Charleston County rates highest in SC for women-owned businesses

Published: Feb. 17, 2011 at 9:35 PM EST|Updated: Feb. 18, 2011 at 12:01 AM EST
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By Nicole Johnson  bio | email | Twitter

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Women-owned businesses are a fast-growing trend across the nation and right here in the Lowcountry. Experts say women-owned businesses are growing at twice the rate than those owned by men.

The Center For Women and Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce are hosting an event to help women succeed.

Fashion has long been the passion of Cose Belle shop owner Ashley Swider. The young woman business owner partnered with her mother to start the furniture and clothing boutique in Charleston in 2006, but the path to success hasn't been easy.

"It was fun, exciting, and scary all at the same time. I would get huge deliveries of furniture and I was here by myself and I would have to figure out how to move a gigantic couch by myself, which involved a lot of manual labor," Swider said. "I tried to have a sense of humor through it, but I definitely had my times where I just cried."

Years later her investment paid off and she was able to branch out into another venture, trading her designer duds for these delectable delights.

"It's a challenge at times, but it's a lot of fun, and I think when you're pursuing your passions and you're seeing joy spread throughout the world with those passions, at the end of the day that becomes so rewarding you forget about the stress," Swider said.

Swider opened a second business, yesUmay Cookies, five months ago in Mt. Pleasant.

According to the Center for Women, Charleston County has the highest number of women-owned businesses statewide, and women are starting up businesses at twice the rate of men.

"There are a lot of reasons women start businesses, but I personally think the main reason is to have more control over their lives, greater flexibility, and the potential to earn more than they can in the traditional workplace," said C4W Executive Director Jennet Robinson Alterman.

Swider says while it hasn't always been an easy path to success in either of her business ventures, her passion for fashion and drive to make some dough keep her going.

"I think it's an amazing opportunity to just go ahead and take a leap of faith and pursue your dreams," Swider said.

Friday is the sixth annual Women in Business Conference hosted by the Chamber of Commerce and Center for Women. It will include lots of networking opportunities and seminars to help women advance in their careers. It goes from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at Charleston Marriott. Registration will be open Friday morning and the cost is $100.

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