Businesses are one of the backbones of any community.
While many businesses have traditionally been owned by men, women-owned businesses are on the rise as long-established gender norms have been thrown to the side in favor of a more progressive society.
In Aiken, it’s impossible to know how many women-owned businesses exist, as the Aiken Chamber of Commerce doesn’t categorize businesses in that fashion.
However, local small-business owner Vikky Woody thinks it’s important to support women-owned businesses when residents see them. Woody owns Vikki’s Boutique on Whiskey Road, which she opened in June 2017.
“I don’t really know why you wouldn’t want to (support women-owned businesses) because women need jobs just like men do,” Woody said. “In certain businesses, women are better, especially in a boutique like we have.”
For women who may be interested in starting their own business, Woody suggested they do their research beforehand to find all the available potential resources.
“I think there’s a bunch of loans out there that women really don’t even know about,” she said, referring to loans that are specifically available for women-owned businesses.
“It’s taken us four years, and we’re actually still learning,” Woody continued. “In four years, we’re still finding out, ‘Oh my goodness, we could’ve done this, we could’ve done that,’ (and) that would’ve helped us so much at first that we didn’t know about.'”
Aiken Chamber of Commerce President and CEO J. David Jameson noted another potential resource for residents, citing the chamber’s Women in Business group that he said holds two luncheons a year.
Jameson said the Women in Business luncheons are a good initiative because they aren’t just limited to women who own businesses, but also women who are involved in business.
“The reason we continue with the Women in Business programming is that there are (topics) that women like that help motivate them and help them with business issues that they don’t necessarily face everyday,” Jameson said. “Some of it’s training and education, some of it’s motivation, and that’s why we continue to do that, and our members respond to that very well.”
Jameson also spoke broadly about women-owned businesses, saying he thinks it’s important to support them.
“Sometimes, women-owned businesses have more obstacles to overcome; and I think it’s good when a community can support women-owned businesses,” Jameson said.
Woody said it’s important for women who own businesses to support each other.
“I think, especially downtown, there’s several small businesses, successful businesses, that are owned by women; and I’m glad to see support,” Woody said. “We lead people there; and, hopefully, they lead people here.”