More and more women in Colorado are saying “no” to traditional jobs, and saying “yes” to being their own bosses.
The number of women-owned businesses in our state has grown more than 54.2 percent since 1997, according to a report released by American Express OPEN.
The report is based on periodic U.S. Census Bureau surveys of businesses.
The number of businesses owned by women here stands at about 177,000—up from 114,807 16 years ago.
These numbers lag about five percent behind our nation as a whole at 59.1 percent.
But with several other factors, including revenue and employment, Colorado stands 20th overall in female power.
"I call myself a recovering corporate executive," says Wy Livingston, owner of Wystone World Teas in Belmar.
She’s one reason why Colorado ranks 23rd in the country for growth of women-owned businesses.
She started her business in 2008 while working as a Fortune 500 executive.
"Tea. How do I make money at that? So, I did a lot of research, traveled to Europe, Asia. Spent a year, year-and-a-half researching tea and everything about it," she says.
But then the economy crashed, forcing her to make a tough decision.
"The most important decision I made after I opened the cafe was deciding I needed to leave my job, because I couldn’t do both," she says.
The recession also forced her to open other channels of business to include: wholesaling at hotels and grocery stores, opening a concession at the Denver Convention Center, a kiosk on the 16th Street Mall, and soon she’ll franchise internationally. She’s also got a bid in for a contract at DIA.
"Three of them to go?"
Church of Cupcakes is also part of the growing number of female-owned companies in Colorado—which employ 140,900 people.
Experts say entrepreneurship is the next frontier for women.
"Increased education on the part of women, increased managerial experience and increased frustration about doing for others what they can do for themselves," says Julie Weeks, research advisor for American Express OPEN.
“I can own my own business or go back to the cubicle," says bakery owner, Porchee Lovely.
She opened her cupcake company after getting laid off from a tech company in 2004.
"I feel like I've gotten an MBA in 'Real Life University,'" she says.
They are two women representing a new future of women calling the shots.
Altogether, these women-led businesses will pull in an expected $25,929,500 this year, ranking Colorado 16th nationally.