We had the good fortune of connecting with Ali Everhard and Melissa Rouswell and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Ali Everhard and Melissa Rouswell, what do you attribute your success to?
We strive to be inclusive to all women with no industry seats, affordable so that even those who are just starting out can participate and open to new ideas so that we are always trying new and fun ways to connect with each other. We feel like our group has a different feel than most networking or entrepreneur groups because it is so inclusive. We try to think about our small business owners, their daily struggles and what they might need in their business and create workshops and content to help them be successful. WCE and www.ShopaSmallBusiness are ways for women to combine forces and help each other, promote each other and lift each other up so that we are all more successful. When women collaborate, exciting things get done and we see that so often in our group!
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
Yes! We met while volunteering at our children’s elementary school in 2013. We realized we had a lot in common, not only being moms, but as business owners too. Ali was a solo entrepreneur with a photography & design business and Melissa was in direct sales business at the time. Even though we both owned businesses, they were very different. Melissa was able to receive training and support from her corporate office and Ali was swimming through the waters alone. Together we spent many hours chatting about our businesses and the different experiences we had. Ali was frustrated as a solo entrepreneur for although she was successful, she wasted precious time researching and finding all the information she needed for her business to be successful. We decided that women solo entrepreneurs would benefit from a community like the one that direct sales offered where they had webinars/workshops, support, networking and a place to go for help. We created the Women’s Council of Entrepreneurs (WCE) to do just that and so much more! WCE is a place that focuses on business development and a place to give all women entrepreneurs an opportunity to connect with each other and share experiences good or bad. We wanted to build a community of support in a world that can feel very cut throat and lonely. We also wanted to do something different than most networking groups- we wanted to connect our small businesses with the public- not just with our members. We felt like too many groups just swap the same $250 around and we wanted to be able to help small businesses find new customers outside of the group. So, we launched ShopaSmallBusiness.com to do just that! Shopasmallbusiness.com is a place where customers and shoppers can find over 145 (and growing daily) small, women owned businesses from across the nation and support them. No more struggling to find the right website or having to go to multiple sites to find what you are looking for! It is all here in one place and it is not just for Houston based businesses, but any US business. So you are not limited to just the local businesses near you, you can shop small and shop local all over the US. Nothing about starting a business is ever “easy” as most entrepreneurs can attest to. We are always having to figure out something new whether it is website design, how to grow our business, and the best way to do that, changing technology or just how to pivot when we are thrown a curveball. Luckily, we come from different areas of expertise so our skills complement each other and we usually find a creative and innovative solution that we are both excited about. We would love to invite other female entrepreneurs to join us and become a part of ShopaSmallBusiness.com, attend one of our workshops, join our Facebook group or even better~become a member of WCE and do all of the above. Membership equates to about $10/month when you join for the year. We would love to learn more about your business and have you share your experiences with us! We truly are stronger together! #weareWCE
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
We are in The Woodlands and there are so many spots it’s hard for us to choose just a few, but we will try! For coffee and amazing pastries & breakfast we adore Blue Door Coffee Company. Not only does it have an serene ambience on the inside, it is right on the beautiful Woodlands Waterway. Tumbleweeds and Notions is great place for unique gifts and Thirty One Roots women’s clothing is sold in there as well. We also love going all the farmers markets on the weekends, it a way to shop small businesses easily. The Tamina Farmer’s Market is right outside Victory Pie Co. which is another favorite of ours. One of the things we love about living in The Woodlands are all the outdoor areas so we can usually be found enjoying the many parks, bike paths and hiking trails especially when friends and family visit. And of course we are biased, but there is a Houston Local page on ShopaSmallBusiness.com that has amazing businesses!
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Our husbands have not only been our number one fans through this journey, but the ones that remind us why we are doing what we do and tell us to keep going when we hit our low points. Ultimately though our children are the drive behind our passion. We are constantly motivated and inspired by them and we hope that we have the same affect on them. They are not the only ones though who have inspired and encouraged us though. Our families have been huge role models and we both come from strong entrepreneurial backgrounds and have seen the ups and downs associated with owning a small business. Ali’s family history of business ownership dates back to her Great-Grandfather who owned a Chocolate Shop, to both her grandfathers who owned multiple businesses, including a sausage shop & a tavern. However, the person that most influenced her the most was her mom who opened her restaurant shortly after finishing her cancer treatments. She also looks to her dad for business advice who after retiring from HR opened a successful manufacturing company. We know it isn’t an easy road but it is a fulfilling one! Melissa also has a strong family history of entrepreneurs who taught her you are never too old or too young to start your own business. She was inspired by her grandfather who founded a beauty care wholesale business in his 60’s and her father who launched his commercial real estate business after retiring from a successful career in banking. Her sister started her own marketing firm right out of business school and has been an amazing resource for Melissa in growing the Women’s Council of Entrepreneurs.
Website: www.wearewce.com and www.shopasmallbusiness.com
Instagram: @shopasmallbusiness.com and @wearewce
Other: our Facebook group for women entrepreneurs is facebook.com/groups/wearewce
photos by Ali Everhard, Ian Everhard and Leslie Cervantez