Women Helping Women to Fuel Hoosier Economy

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Homespun bills itself as a seller of contemporary handmade and locally-crafted goods. Homespun bills itself as a seller of contemporary handmade and locally-crafted goods.

Indiana's women business owners continue to flex their muscle as International Women's Day shines a spotlight on their economic impact. Amanda Mauer Taflinger, owner of Homespun: Modern Handmade, a locally-crafted gift shop in Indianapolis's Mass Ave district, says camaraderie among the women running businesses in the state fuels their success. The U.S. Census Bureau's most recent Survey of Small Business Owners shows more than a quarter of privately-held businesses in Indiana are owned by women, employing more than 175,000 people.

Homespun is a seller of contemporary handmade and locally-crafted goods. Taflinger says she makes a point to work directly with other woman-owned businesses. She says, when other women meet her, they often ask for advice about starting their own businesses.

"We talk to a lot of women who see this business and they're like, 'I want to do something similar, I want to have this other idea, can you give me ideas about how you got started or where I need to go for advice or help or what were the first steps I need to take to get off the ground?'" says Taflinger. "So I like that, I like that people are willing to come to me and ask me those questions and they express the desire to get their own thing off the ground."

Lauren Dale, who founded Wagglebottoms Kennels & Cattery in LLC in Muncie in 2014, says some people are still adjusting to the idea of women's growing presence in the small business field.

"It happens all the time," Dale tells Inside INdiana Business. "Someone will say, 'I need to see the owner.' And I have to tell them, 'I am the owner.'"

Dale says the Muncie chapter of Business Network International has been a huge help. Without a traditional business background, she says BNI has helped her connect with people and companies to answer questions and fill business needs in areas ranging from landscaping to legal services.

Jennifer Shirk, owner of Queen Bee Vintage, says she feels women are "continually underestimated" in the business world, but says "I like people being surprised" when they find out a business they use is owned by a woman. She seconds Taflinger's thoughts on camaraderie among women business owners, saying, in addition to providing support, it allows them to bring inspiration to the next generation of women entrepreneurs.

Yelp Indy has compiled a list of woman-owned businesses that you can find here.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau's 2012 Survey of Small Business Owners (which is updated every five years, making the 2012 edition the most recent), there are more than 162,000 woman-owned businesses in Indiana, making up 26.8 percent of the state's privately-held companies. At the time, Indiana ranked 31st in the nation.

The vast majority of those businesses, nearly 90 percent, have no employees other than the owner. In 2012, those firms generated sales of about $3 billion. The remaining companies generated $25 billion in sales and paid their employees more than $5 billion in 2012.

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