On May 25, the Washington Women’s Business Center (WWBC) at Business Impact NW hosted Celebrating Dreams 2023 event, an annual premier showcase that brought together women entrepreneurs from across the region to honor the accomplishments of women-owned businesses and the spirit of female entrepreneurship. More than 100 guests attended the event which featured behind-the-scenes interviews, an exclusive raffle, and a live showcase featuring 30 inspiring female entrepreneurs, including Urban Belle Designs, Mami Tran, Puddles Barkery, and Amu Nutrition.
Reconnecting with Joy
Following a lower turnout at Celebrating Dreams 2022, this year’s event turned out to be one of the most attended events since its creation 8 years ago. Washington Women’s Business Center Director, Jessica Vidican-Neisus says she was blown away by the reception at the event, sharing, “The lack of opportunities to celebrate with your peers over these pandemic years has been its own special strain on our collective psyche. Having a chance to get together and share our truth, our passions, and our life’s work with our community of businesswomen is an act of radical joy!”
Each year, the WWBC hosts its annual Celebrating Dreams event which brings together seasoned and aspiring women entrepreneurs to celebrate the growth, diversification, and innovation of the small business community in Washington. The event provides a space for established business owners to connect with community leaders, supporters, and resource suppliers. It also raises community awareness and support of locally owned women’s businesses while celebrating Washington women entrepreneurs who are leaders in their communities.
Platforming Culture and Community
Kicking off with a champagne toast and keynote speeches from Business Impact NW leadership, the mood was light, joyful, and full of celebration and meaningful conversation. Both the showcase participants and attendees said Celebrating Dreams was the perfect platform for networking opportunities and created a dynamic environment for collaboration and growth. The 30 small businesses participating in the showcases had the opportunity to share their stories, highlight their businesses, products, and services, connect with the community, and inspire aspiring entrepreneurs. Attendees came from across Washington State and many said they had the chance to discover upcoming and established businesses with unique products they had never encountered while gaining awareness about the importance of small businesses and the lasting impacts they make on the local economy and in their communities.
Celebrating Dreams 2023 also built new bridges and strengthened bonds between the showcase participants. Kausar Ahmed is the owner of Karachi Kitchen and a showcase participant. They specialize in traditional Pakistani chutneys and spice blends made from scratch with high-quality, locally-sourced ingredients. Kausar says they first heard about Celebrating Dreams through marketing outreach. "Authentic Pakistani pantry products aren't available in spice shops anywhere. We're grateful to be able to connect with other women and share our unique products. We look forward to more events where we can share success with other women business owners." Rebekah Lewis is the founder of ONYX + PETAL a luxury, nutrient-dense, all-natural face, body, and hair botanical oils. She says the night was all about uplifting other women. "As women, we have to stick together, lift each other up, make space for one another. We all feel that unity tonight."
The Marvelous Maria Mason
Events like Celebrating Dreams could not be possible without the support of amazing mission-driven volunteers who work tirelessly each year to uplift the event and ensure Celebrating Dreams is a space where all in attendance can connect, learn, and grow. Maria Mason is one of our volunteers and a current member of the Washington Women's Business Center Advisory Board who has gone above and beyond at each Celebrating Dreams event since the beginning. She has been a longtime advocate for Business Impact NW and the WWBC, as well as a leader in her community. Last night, we had the privilege of presenting Maria with the very first "Maria Mason Award" to honor her outstanding achievements. We thank Maria for her years of dedication and inspiration, and we look forward to honoring more of our fantastic volunteers in the future.
Dream It, Do It
Celebrating Dreams is built on the mission of providing visibility, recognition, and support to women-owned businesses, while also inspiring and empowering other women to pursue their own entrepreneurial dreams with confidence. Through unique presentations, engaging discussions, and valuable networking opportunities, the showcase left a lasting impact on attendees and furthered the mission of promoting entrepreneurship and economic growth in the community. Communities, just like people, thrive when they have joy in their lives. When women thrive, communities thrive; and that creates more joyful communities full of opportunities for other women to fulfill their dreams. Thank you to everyone who attended Celebrating Dreams 2023 and if there is one takeaway we want to share, it's if you dream it, you can do it.
About the author
Janelle is a storyteller through and through. She was raised in a family of entrepreneurs who owned and managed a series of small businesses, including a Hawaiian restaurant, a video store, and several real estate properties. Growing up in a low-income community but attending schools as a minority in affluent areas, she struggled with the inequities she faced each day. As a Bay Area native, Janelle has witnessed the rise and fall of countless startups and small businesses. She has worked for a number of nonprofits and has remained steadfast in her commitment to using her craft to support the missions of each organization, and uplift underserved communities throughout the Bay Area.
Janelle graduated with a degree in Creative Writing, specializing in screenwriting and playwriting. She worked as a copywriter for companies such as Coldwell Banker, Callisto Media, a publisher of nonfiction and self-help books, and Artslandia magazine, a premier publisher of performing arts playbills throughout the Portland metro area. In a leap of faith, Janelle moved her family to Seattle in 2021 and worked with Committee for Children, an educational nonprofit committed to supporting the well-being of children through social-emotional learning.