From coders to country singers, we have been EXTREMELY fortunate to have the opportunity to grow our networking community and to be inspired by five amazing women! Our #WomenWednesdays campaign began back in March, as a way to celebrate Women’s History month. We sought to listen to women in various fields who have successfully overcome adversity in the workplace, which has enabled them to strive as business leaders and owners. We are proud to have had the opportunity to work with each of these women and their businesses. Please be sure to click their links and support each of their businesses!
Cindy Cameron | President & Software Developer at COBRA Contractors Software | Excelsior, MN
Facebook: Cobra Contractors Software
Cindy has been a part of the USWHPRO team from the very beginning! We have been using COBRA software to manage our inventory and dispatch system thanks to the hard work and adaptive coding done by Cindy! She has also provided us with a multitude of resources and training sessions to help ensure our successes, alongside Mr. Dan Roth who worked with Cindy and our company to develop and effective mobile version of COBRA. We had the opportunity to learn about the amazing woman behind our powerful code:
USWHPRO: Is there a woman who inspires you?
Cindy: My maternal grandmother, Ethel Cameron, was a world-renowned China Painter and teacher of China Painting. Her work was well-known across the globe. She taught me to be true to myself. Grandma (and Grandpa) would say “find out what you’re really good at and work to become the best at it.” This has been the motto by which I live my life! It has helped me through some very tough times in the early years of building COBRA!
USWHPRO: What is your favorite thing about working for COBRA?
Cindy: My favorite things about working for COBRA are really two-fold. I LOVE helping our customers become better business owners by using our solutions. I also LOVE building NEW solutions that have never been done before— like the Mobile Solutions we built for USWH! Our customers drive me and my software/mobile development. I love to teach receptive people on how to “see” their businesses differently. Sometimes, when I get overwhelmed, I remember that I want to be the best at what I do and that customers value our work! That’s extremely important to me (and Jim).
USWHPRO: Do you feel that you have faced adversity as a woman in business and becoming President?
Cindy: Yes, I have often felt adversity in being a woman in business, starting at the beginnings of COBRA! Immediately, I was not given equal status as the 3 men. But, I persevered, knowing that when I showed my true capabilities, things would change for me and they did. I have been President for almost 30 years! The joke around here is that no one else wants my job! That shows how much my work and talents are valued by my team members!
USWHPRO: Do you have any advice for other women in coding/STEM?
Cindy: I truly believe that, as far as software development, women bring a unique perspective to it. I see so much “ugly” software out there and I wonder “Who thunk of that?” or “Why would some design it that way?”. At least for me, I see my job as a software developer to create solutions that match the processes they are designed to emulate. In other words, I really think about how a person will interact with the software to complete the essential processes within their businesses. Too many software programs are designed without this critical consideration in mind. And, in my years of being a business woman, it has been my privilege to teach women and see their confidence grow! I really thrive on this! Helping the wives, daughters, and female staff of contractors to understand the contracting industry and become confident in their roles has truly been inspiring! It’s been an integral part of my personal growth to listen to the perspectives of women and apply them to my own interactions with other women.
Laurel Wright | Singer/Songwriter of The Young Fables | Nashville, Tennessee
Website: The Young Fables
In our February 2019 recap article, we told you all about how our President and Vice President of Operations met Laurel & Wes in the airport, which led to Laurel recording voiceovers for our phone system (and possibly future voiceover projects!). However, we didn’t have the opportunity to share their amazing story, so we had a moment to catch up with Laurel who shared her journey to becoming an empowered female musician:
USWHPRO: What inspired you to start singing and to turn your talents into The Young Fables?
Laurel: I grew up singing in church and music is all I’ve wanted to do for as long as I can remember. To be honest, I never imagined myself as anything but a solo artist until I met Wes. He brought something incredibly unique to what I do and it only made sense to start The Young Fables.
USWHPRO: Do you feel you faced adversity as a woman in the music industry?
Laurel: I have definitely been in situations where I felt less than just because I am a female in the music industry but I feel like scenarios such as these happen in many other areas in peoples’ lives. Knowing that I am in control of my own career and knowing my limitations on what I am willing to do has allowed me to get through those circumstances and come out even stronger.
USWHPRO: What advice do you have for women who aspire to be in the music industry?
Laurel: Hard work trumps talent & success is whatever YOU decide is success.
USWHPRO: Is there a female who has inspired you?
Laurel: I can’t think of just one woman who inspired me but I could also name so many like Patsy Cline, Dolly Parton, a recently Kacey Musgraves— everything that girl does is HER way and I admire that.
USWHPRO: What is your favorite song to sing?
Laurel: My favorite songs to sing usually change throughout my life, but right now, my favorite is a song we wrote my Daddy. We are almost finished with a documentary inspired by the songwriting process of our tune, “Daddy’s Girl” and my own personal journey. I am ready to share my story.
Maria Moreno | Owner & Chef at Restaurante Cuetzala Gro | Rogers Park, Chicago, IL
Facebook: Restaurante Cuetzala Gro
I first met Maria’s daughter in high school; she would mention her family’s restaurant, but I had never had the opportunity to stop by and try the AMAZING food until this last month. From pozole to tacos to caldos (and more!), Maria’s food is delicious and made with so much love, as she explained to us in early May:
USWHPRO: What is your favorite thing about working at Restaurant Cuetzala?
Maria: My favorite thing about working at Restaurant Cuetzala is preparing all of my famous dishes such as Mole Rojo, Mole Verde, tamales, pozole, and many of my other stews that are on the menu. I am not going to lie, being a restaurant owner and a cook is a lot of work. It requires a lot of commitment and dedication but it is all worth it when I see how satisfied my customers are when they taste my dishes. I have had customers from different parts of the world visit my restaurant and they continuously tell me that my food is the best Mexican food that they have ever tasted. That is what motivates me to keep working hard towards my business.
USWHPRO: Is there a woman who inspires you?
Maria: The woman that inspires me the most is my mother, Celestina. When I was a young girl, I would stand next to her in the kitchen in Mexico and watch her as she cooked. Cooking came so natural to her, she didn’t even need measurements. I eventually learned ho to cook just like her. Unfortunately, she is no longer with us, but I will always try to keep her memory alive through my cooking.
USWHPRO: In your opinion, have you experienced adversity as a woman in the food service industry? How were you able to overcome it?
Maria: I personally have not faced adversity as a woman in the food service industry. The restaurant industry is a male dominated industry and it can be hard for women to set up her business if she does not receive support from her peers. The advice that I would give other women is to not feel intimidated by the industry. A woman is equally as capable of opening her own business with much success.
USWHPRO: What advice do you have for other women in the business world/restaurant industry?
Maria: The advice that I would give other women in the business/restaurant industry is that they should not give up on their business and goals. There are days where it will feel hard to keep the business up and running but you just have to have faith that everything will work out and that your business will eventually strive towards success.
Dr. Nicole Bajic Ophthalmologist at Koziok-Thoms Eye Associates | Arlington Heights, IL
Facebook: Koziol-Thomas Eye Associates
Website: Koziol-Thoms Eye Associates
Nicole: Vision is one of our five basic senses and many people are suffering with one of those senses significantly impaired. To be able to give those people their vision back is so rewarding. Often times, all that is needed is a 10 minute surgery.
USWHPRO: What led you to become an ophthalmologist?
Nicole: In medical school, I knew I wanted to be a surgeon. I was also advised to find a specialty related to what I liked to read about the most—and for me, that was the eye and visual system. Ophthalmology was also a field that required a lot of attention to detail and impeccable precision. Vision problems can profoundly impact quality of life, but fortunately, in our era, we have excellent solutions for many of these problems.
USWHPRO: Is there a woman who inspires you?
Nicole: My mother—she came to America with nothing at age 16. She quickly learned English and soon after received a full scholarship to nursing school. She had spent her entire career working as an operating room nurse, and she was my biggest inspiration to become a surgeon.
USWHPRO: Do you feel that you have experienced adversity as a woman in medicine? How were you able to overcome it?
Nicole: Medicine has historically been a male-dominated field, but more and more women are entering medicine every day. I have been very grateful to have several strong female mentors who have helped guide me through my training and establishing my practice. I very much look forward to helping mentor others through the same in the future.
USWHPRO: What advice do you have for other women who aspire to be in the medical profession?
Nicole: Go for it! If you put in the hard work (there will be more of it than you could imagine), you can do it. I would also recommend taking some time to figure out how you best learn and stay organized. These two skills are the most valuable in medical school or graduate school in general.
Erica Agrinsoni founder of Twentysevenlane | Chicago, IL
Online Shop: Twentysevenlane on Etsy
Erica describes herself as “a mom, a woman, a wife — like any other who set her heart out to conquer her passions wherever they may lead me to and however long it takes to get there. I was born here in Chicago and both my parents are from Puerto Rico. I’ve always excelled in the arts, from art class in elementary school to fashion and interior design which are other passions of mine. Twentysevenlane has opened up my love and newfound interest in party planning, too! I hope to return to college and study interior design someday in the near future. I can and I will. ♥️” • I first learned of her business from her younger sister and asked her to participate in the #WomenWednesdays campaign to share her wisdom and inspiration as she takes Twentysevenlane to the next level!
Erica: I started Twentysevenlane as an outlet to express my creativity and what better time to do than after baby boy number 2! I was fortunate enough to be a stay-at-home mom, and with support from my husband, I was able to get the ball rolling on something. Truthfully, I didn’t have a clear vision for it at the time.
USWHPRO: Where did the name Twentysevenlane come from?
Erica: Twentysevenlane literally comes from the number 27 which is my mother’s favorite number and somehow always plays part in our lives in one form or another. It was meaningful and unique. I did not want to make a focus specific name as I was still finding my focus and really learning all that I could to help me find it. The lane was my fancy spin off of the number. I thought one day, if I take this far, I don’t want to be known as “Erica’s Customs” or custom designs, etc. I wanted something with flare; something, who knows, maybe one day would turn into something bigger than I could ever imagine.
USWHPRO: Is there a woman who inspires you?
Erica: A woman who inspires me? This is tough! All women inspire me. We are all unique in our own ways. We carry out different strengths and we inspire the women around us more than we know. But, if I had to choose, I would say my grandmother. She is a woman who taught me so much, having so little. She came to Illinois at 14 with little education and hardly any communication skills (i.e. reading and writing). She came here never letting an obstacle overcome her. She showed me love, strength, and compassion. She taught me humor and how to cook. But honestly, the most basic thing she’s every taught me was that nothing worth fighting for ever came easy. That is something I live out daily, even on my worst days. It’s helped ground me.
USWHPRO: Do you feel you have faced adversity as a woman in the workforce?
Erica: As strange as this may sound, given that I’m just starting off, I could say yes and no. As far as Twentysevenlane, I would say no, or better suited, not thus far. But, I’ve been in dentistry for many years and in those environments (and not every but most) I have experienced adversity. Sadly, it’s tough to decide how and when or where you set boundaries and hold standards. As a woman you have to assert yourself earlier rather than later, as scary as that may be for some, as I know job security seems like something you would keep secure by any means. But, ladies, know that it’s okay to set the standard out the gate, to respectfully request or expect respect daily. These standards don’t take from your job and will help set the tone in your work environment. The biggest lesson and still a daily struggle for me is that I often forget I am responsible for how I feel or interpret thing, and I am responsible for the environment around me. If that make any sense without spiraling. So, tolerating something you dislike will not create the best environment and can result in other outcomes as a result of this tendency.
USWHPRO: What advice do you have for other women who are considering starting an online business?
Erica: After all is said and done, the biggest thing I’ve learned is that truthfully, social media is your biggest platform. Learn it and use it consistently. Secondly, do any and all research you can, once you have a goal or vision in mind. I’ve watched hundreds of YouTube videos, researched trends and for other online businesses are run. I take note of what appeals to me as a customer and what doesn’t. I’ve also consulted with many fellow business owners, bloggers, planners, and even people I know or see frequently. You’ll learn with time that people are more willing to share and communicate with you than your mind will allow you to think. Be confident. And lastly, be genuine in what you do and always stay true to yourself and whatever you put out. (Nothing worth fighting for comes easily!) Support your fellow small business owners; it’s small business, but it speaks volumes and truly helps your success in a feel good way! No success is too small.
We have been so fortunate to work with these amazing women! Are you interested in collaborating with us or our friends featured in #WomenWednesdays!
For Collaborations: firstname.lastname@example.org
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