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More women are starting their own businesses

women who started their own business

Published: September 11, 2011

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After spending nearly 20 years crunching numbers as an accountant, Cathy Reppert took a risk.

She started her own business doing what she loves: baking specialty cakes and other desserts.

The risk paid off.

She began Truly Scrumptious in her Kingston home in 2003 after she was laid off and couldn't get another accounting job. Since then, her business has grown and she moved to a new location at 271 Wyoming Ave. in Kingston last year. She now has a full-time employee and two part-time employees. Her husband, a mechanical engineer at Intermetro in Wilkes-Barre, and her 16-year-old daughter also help her.

"I liked the option of having my own business because it gave me a lot more control over my hours," said Mrs. Reppert, adding she originally wanted to work part time so she could attend her daughter's functions. "I've been very fortunate. I have loyal customers. I gave away a lot of free cakes, which I don't mind doing."

The number of women starting their own businesses has been growing, according to findings recently presented by U.S. Census Bureau Director Robert M. Groves. Women-owned businesses now form a third of all businesses. Businesses owned by women tend to be smaller than those owned by men, with fewer employees and lower sales on average. Yet, the growth in numbers of women-owned firms appeared to have exceeded that of men in the 1997-2007 period.

As a business owner, Mrs. Reppert works 60 to 80 hours a week. She often gets up very early and works very late finishing cakes, meeting deadlines and filling orders.

"There are challenges balancing family versus needing to stay here extra hours in the evenings and weekends when I know my family needs me. That's a tough thing," Mrs. Reppert said. "Now that my daughter is older, she can work here and be here with me. She can do her homework here. It shows my daughter you have options. You can get an education and work for someone or you can start your own business."

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, women also are pursuing post-secondary education at higher rates than men. Industries that are women-owned are often service-oriented, such as health care and educational services.

After spending more than three decades working in health care, JoAnn Finnerty decided to start her own business doing what she loved to do as a hobby: printing photos, logos and messages on gourmet chocolate.

For 35 years, she worked in Community Medical Center's laboratory department, a job she still does on per diem basis in addition to teaching laboratory and phlebotomy courses in Forty Fort. She switched to part-time supervisor 10 years ago after having two children and later switched to a medical assistant paid on a

per diem basis.

She began printing on gourmet chocolate at her home in Old Forge as a hobby four years ago. She started her business by doing benefits and expos. In March this year, she opened Bella Faccias at 516 Lackawanna Ave. in Scranton after the business grew too big for her home.

Ms. Finnerty, who lost her parents to cancer and spent years working with patients with cancer, said she he is now able to see joyous aspects of life in her new business, such as people celebrating birthdays and anniversaries.

"It's so nice to celebrate life," Ms. Finnerty said. "It was a good move."

Danielle Fleming, owner of Danielle and Company in Scranton, started her business by experimenting with lavender oil and soap and making products in her kitchen in 2002. Now, she has her own factory with 11 employees who manufacture organic products for the bath, body and home for more than 200 locations across the country.

Both her parents are part of her company. Her father Bill is president and her mother Donna is vice president. Typically, Ms. Fleming works about 60 hours a week. When she is not working, she is always thinking about developing new products and marketing, she said.

Ms. Fleming finds there are a high percentage of women business owners in the beauty industry. Women lead differently than their male counterparts, she said.

"We are relationship-based leaders," Ms. Fleming said. "I have also seen a high level of mentorship amongst us. We have tight support networks both professionally and personally that empower us to thrive."

More people across the board are starting businesses amid the high unemployment rate with a decrease in opportunities in the workforce, said Anthony Liuzzo, Ph.D. a professor of business and economics at Wilkes University.

"Many women feel they can show their stuff in a smaller setting by opening their own business," Dr. Liuzzo said.

His wife, Trudy Liuzzo, is an example. She owns Travel Junction in Forty Fort. She sees many advantages to owning her own business.

"I love making my own decisions. I love not having anyone second guess me. I love not having anyone look over shoulder," she said. "I like not having an agenda. I like having full control over everything from cleaning the office to washing windows to emptying trash to doing travel-related functions as well."

Contact the writer: dallabaugh@citizensvoice.comSweet Success

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