Articles Tagged with: women in business

Kamonwan Wipulakorn: A Leader’s Profile

A well-respected figure in the hospitality industry, Kamonwan Wipulakorn started her career in finance and is now a prominent leader in the Southeast Asian hotel and tourism industry. Notably, she is also one of the few female executives in this male-dominated field.

Although she has a long list of accomplishments under her belt, she is most well-known for her former position as the president and director of Erawan Group. Erawan is Thailand’s leading hotel investment company with a diversified hotel portfolio across Southeast Asia. Kamonwan was also included in Prospects Top 10 Women in Entrepreneurs in Southeast Asia.

Kamonwan’s educational background and professional start

In October 2021, she was appointed Managing Director of Bound and Beyond Public Company Limited (BEYOND). She is also Vision CEO of business investor One Origin and an independent director of Star Petroleum Refining Public Limited, a leading producer of petroleum products in Thailand.

She graduated with a bachelor’s degree from Chulalongkorn University in Thailand and obtained her MBA from Western Illinois University in the USA. Even after these accomplishments, she didn’t stop learning and continued to pursue self-development. She also attended the Certificate Harvard Executive Program in Harvard Business School and the Certificate Stanford Executive Program at Stanford University. Her impressive educational background is a testament to her dedication to continuous learning and improvement.

Kamonwan started her professional career as an associate at a brokerage firm more than thirty years ago and has worked her way up ever since. “I’ve worked in the financial field for 15 years, mainly in investment advisory,” Kamonwan said in an interview with the Bangkok Post. “I left the banks in 2002 to become the chief financial officer of my client’s petrochemical company for five years. But I always had an interest in the hotel business.”

Joining and leading Erawan

Kamonwan joined Erawan in 2008 when she heard about the vacant position of Chief Financial Officer in the hospitality company. After she entered, she continued climbing the corporate ladder. In 2011, she became president and director of the group and joined senior management in 2013.

Kamonwan calls her management style adaptable and always tailored to the situation she faces. She left Erawan in 2018 and continued to hold director-level positions in other companies. Her current positions are Director of Origin Property PLC, Board Member of Padaeng Industry PCL, and Managing Director of BEYOND.

While she was with Erawan, she was essential in driving the group forward and spearheading its expansion in Southeast Asia. She oversaw more than 7,000 hotel rooms and 6,000 workers in Thailand and the Philippines during her time as president of Erawan.

She expounded on how she works with people around and under her management. “My style is very flexible. It’s my job is lead my team to achieve the result we want, so I can be direct and diplomatic at the same time. My other important responsibility is to build my team to succeed me, so coaching and empathy are essential in my routine,” Kamonwan shared.

A goal of learning every day

Her life philosophy of learning and re-learning for self-improvement is reflected in both her personal and professional life. She lives with the goal of learning every day because the hotel industry and the world around her are constantly changing. The only way to keep up is to be open to learning. She believes that the best way to work with uncertainty is to keep learning. Kamonwan also wants others to have this mindset, and she focused much of her attention on staff development.

Another one of her key goals with Erawan was to create and implement sustainable practices throughout its operations. She wanted to develop a sustainable platform for the group to carry it well into the future. The group also gives back to local communities and is mindful that each property should benefit the local community. From hotel construction to operations, the group made sure that locals would gain income from the project. Locals were employed from the hotels’ building phase, and some were employed by the hotels when they were operational.

A product of Thailand’s openness to female leadership

Kamonwan has also shared her experience being a top Thai executive and if being a woman affected her career path in any way. “I’ve never felt that there were barriers for women getting into leadership roles in Thailand, but I do see it is an issue elsewhere. In Thailand in general, you see more and more women given the opportunity to run organizations. We have a very open work culture and are probably in the top 10 countries in the world for the number of women in leadership roles,” she said.

It’s important to note that Thailand is one of the leaders globally that accepts and supports women in leadership roles. According to studies, women hold 37% percent of leadership roles in the country, compared to 24% globally. In terms of education, it ranks first in the world of enrollment of women in higher education. For every man enrolled in university, 1.41 women are enrolled as well.

The world can learn from Thailand’s attitude towards women leading companies and in other leadership positions. Kamonwan explained how the decision-making process works in Thai corporations. “We see diversity at all levels. But in other aspects, we welcome comments from everyone. We don’t do top-down decision-making. Everyone in the company drives the business. Every decision or project, it comes from a team, not from one person. The way we make decisions comes from the different opinions in the team, and it is always cross-functional, and everyone has the same chance to get their views across,” she said in an interview in 2019.

“This approach is quite common, especially among the big corporations in Thailand. That’s why they become so big; I believe that if the organization does not embrace diversity, it is difficult to grow. For family businesses that haven’t yet transformed into that corporate environment, it may be different. There is perhaps not so much diversity there,” Kamonwan explained.

Valuing inclusiveness

Aside from gender diversity, Thai companies value inclusiveness as well. Kamonwan emphasized that it’s more about respecting everyone’s opinion than seeing decision-making as solely coming from management. She has also imbibed this in her own management style and empowers the people around her. For example, when she was working in Erawan, they conducted town hall meetings to encourage employees to give their feedback and comments to management.

Kamonwan is a woman everyone can look up to and should admire. From finance to hospitality, and from an entry-level position to CEO, she made her way to the top through hard work and an open leadership style. Even if she’s leading top corporations, she also makes time for her family. She enjoys traveling with them around Thailand and other countries.

Openness, continuous learning, self-improvement, and flexibility are recurring themes in Kamonwan’s life. Because of these admirable traits, she has led teams of thousands of people to success and continues to be a prominent figure in the hospitality industry. She has made it to the top through the combination of all these traits. “All people make mistakes, but we should not repeat our mistakes. Life should be a process of improvement,” Kamonwan mused. Indeed, these are wonderful words of wisdom from a great leader showing the world how life should be done.

Sources:

Bangkok Times

Grant Thornton

Business Times


Value in the Valley: Empowering Women to Reach Their Highest Potential

On September 27, 2021, the Oregon Chapter of the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO Oregon) will hold a virtual event entitled “Value in the Valley.” It is a message to encourage every professional woman to climb their highest mountain and become who they are capable of becoming. The guest speaker for this event is Tammy Butler Robinson.

We invite you to join us at this event. You can register here: https://bit.ly/33FVY7g

About the event

“You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, and how you can still come out of it.” – Maya Angelou

Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu once wrote that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. You may know which destination you’re headed to, you may know how to get there, and you may even have that strong desire to arrive there. But you will never reach that destination if you don’t make that first, small, single step.

Our journey to greatness begins this way. We may have the passion, the drive, and the plan to make our dreams a reality. But without taking that first step, our dreams will be just that—dreams. And there’s no assurance that the journey itself will be easy. More likely than not, we’ll be called upon to make sacrifices, as well as to face setbacks and heartaches. Nonetheless, if you truly believe that your dreams are worth pursuing, that you’re willing to persevere against all challenges, that you stay true to your values, and that you exercise self-care no matter how hard it gets, you will see the value in the valley and finally reach your destination.

About NAWBO

The National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) is the unified voice of over 10 million women-owned businesses in the United States representing the fastest-growing segment of the economy.

Founded in 1975, NAWBO propels women entrepreneurs into economic, social, and political spheres of power worldwide by:

  • Strengthening the wealth-creating capacity of our members and promoting economic development within the entrepreneurial community
  • Creating innovative and effective change in the business culture
  • Building strategic alliances, coalitions, and affiliations
  • Transforming public policy and influencing opinion-makers

About Tammy Butler Robinson

Tammy Butler is a proven leader with a strong background in housing and community development, expertise in public finance and management, and a deep commitment to improving communities and the lives of women in Indiana. As a Managing Principal with Engaging Solutions, she has successfully led and managed the company’s call center business and co-managed the firm’s planning and community outreach sector. Prior to that, Tammy spent over a decade in State government as a fiscal analyst for the Indiana House of Representatives Ways and Means Committee; Assistant Director of the Indiana State Budget Agency; Director of Claims Management for the Family and Social Services Agency; and Data Director for the Office of Medicaid Policy and Planning.

Tammy’s passion for improving the lives of women and families in Indiana extends beyond her corporate life. She is pastor of The House of God Church in Indianapolis, leading a congregation whose members are among the most underserved and underrepresented populations in the state. Her problem-solving skills, knowledge, and experience engaging stakeholders in the community planning process have led to the creation of multiple programs that have changed lives.

Tammy lives in McCordsville, Indiana with her two children, Myles and Brian Jr.


Diversity and Inclusion in Business: A Look at the Wedding Industry—A Recap

On March 8, 2021, Sacred Fire Creative explored another avenue in the conversation on diversity, equality, inclusion, and belonging with the forum “Diversity and Inclusion in Business: A Look at the Wedding Industry.” Writer-turned-wedding planner Elisabeth Kramer led this particular discussion.

About Elisabeth Kramer

Elisabeth Kramer is an award-winning journalist and former magazine editor. She stumbled into a career in wedding planning after helping a friend with her own. But beyond coordinating these dream events for couples, she has made it her mission to, in her own words, “tear down the wedding industrial complex.”

Elisabeth came up with this mission after talking to clients about their weddings and her own interactions with other wedding vendors. As a feminist, she often hears issues that to her seem like total red flags. These red flags often indicate that something is going on and is usually part of a larger issue—that couples are being actively harmed or attacked by the wedding industry.

Thus, she has made it her goal to change the wedding industry, and she does it in two ways with her business. One is through her work with couples as she plans their weddings. The other is by actively collaborating with other vendors.

Elisabeth has a podcast called “The Teardown,” where she interviews couples and vendors about their experiences within the wedding industry. In this podcast, she tackles how diversity, inclusion, Black Lives Matter, and other similar issues affect the industry.

Moreover, she is the co-founder of Altared, a Portland-based event for wedding vendors. Altared holds classes where wedding vendors can learn and share ideas on making the wedding industry a more inclusive, sustainable, and mindful place to work in.

Questions Raised during the Forum

What does “changing the wedding industry” actually mean?

Elisabeth explained that the term “wedding industrial complex” is a shorthand she uses. Still, it’s not a term that she invented. The phrase has been around for a while now. It refers to the many nasty “isms” we encounter in our lives as human beings, but specific to the wedding industry. These “isms” include racism and ageism, as well as non-isms like homophobia and fat-phobia. In other words, it pertains to the toxic things we deal with in society.

She feels that these isms manifest strongly in the wedding industry. However, in some ways, they are all wrapped up in tulle. That’s because weddings are supposed to be happy spaces—about the joy of the couple to be married and about making people feel good.

Elisabeth used race conversations as an example. The word “race” is loaded right now because it’s political. She said she really tries in her work to talk about it. That’s because she thinks the issue manifests a lot of stress, anger, and pain, not just for couples getting married but also vendors in the wedding industry.

She points out two resources that help address this issue. One is Vendors of Color, a Pacific Northwest-based community of exclusively BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and/or People of Color) wedding vendors. The other is Rad Wedding, a Slack group born out of Altared. The group has 150 members; they share leads and support fellow members who are part of the LGBTQ and BIPOC communities or attend classes on inclusivity.

Can the wedding industry change without the service industry changing first?

During the forum, a participant pointed out that the service industry, which covers hotels and restaurants, is not a very inclusive one. Given that the wedding industry is interdependent with the service industry, can the wedding industry change without the service industry change first?

Elisabeth thinks the wedding and service industries have to change together. She believes that changes in the wedding industry can affect the service industry. However, she stated that this is part of a much broader discussion. It’s part of a deeper systemic issue that needs to be addressed, not just in the service industry or the wedding industry but also in other elements of our society.

What steps has Elisabeth herself taken to make her business more inclusive?

Maricella Ehmann, a Vermont-based wedding planner, as well as Elisabeth’s friend and collaborator, shared that Elisabeth has done quite a bit to help small businesses over the years. She asked her to enumerate some of these steps.

Elisabeth replied that, because of capitalism, the first place to start helping others is with money. Thus, she:

  • Donates 5% of every booking to one of six non-profits, a model that she borrowed with permission from Portland-based photographer Marissa Solini.
  • During the pandemic crisis, put up a donation form on her website for wedding vendors in need. This project, however, was short-lived, and Elisabeth shifted back to donating part of her proceeds to non-profits.

Additionally, she put up an anti-racism action plan on her website that she constantly updates. She also takes classes outside of Altared and recommends the LGBTQ+ inclusivity course developed by Kirsten and Maria Palladino of Equally Wed.

What steps can wedding vendors take to make their businesses inclusive right now?

One of the forum participants asked Elisabeth for examples of steps wedding vendors can take to make their businesses more inclusive that they can do right after the forum. Elisabeth responded by demonstrating representation, which can be done by:

  • Being sensitive about language and pronouns. Not every couple who is getting married is a bride and a groom.
  • Making the vendor’s website less bride-centric. Many wedding vendor websites feature couples where one person is white, cis-hetero, and a woman.
  • Including more photos of POC and LGBTQ+ couples on the website.
  • Including the vendor’s own pronouns in their email signature.

Elisabeth reiterated taking classes on inclusivity, as well as mentioned making friends with other wedding vendors. She stated that businesses in the wedding industry run a lot on referrals—vendors referring other vendors, couples referring vendors. Having a referral list is common in the industry.

She shared that she has her own referral list on her website. But she actively makes sure that her list isn’t just a bunch of white people referring white people, with a few Asian-Americans she found off Google thrown into the mix. Instead, she tries to have conversations with them to find out their goals and how she can support these goals with her own business.

Elisabeth remarked that venues are potentially powerful when it comes to referring vendors. That’s because couples often have venues as their first touchpoint in the wedding industry. She thinks that there is a lot of power in venues being really thoughtful about directing people to places like vendors of color.

Elisabeth added that couples themselves have a lot of buying power. Thus, they should think about who they’re employing for their wedding. On average, couples spend $34,000 on their wedding, which is a huge amount of buying power.

What are things in the wedding industry that are considered or accepted as traditional but are actually discriminating?

Elisabeth mentioned walking a bride down the aisle is one that comes up a lot as traditional. However, rather than cherry-pick examples, she said she encourages couples and vendors to talk about prioritization. Prioritization answers the “why” of the wedding—why have a wedding, what parts of the wedding are meaningful to the couple. Those things have meaning, and they come from a place of inclusivity to begin with.

Elisabeth said she could have a whole list of all the “traditions” in a wedding, and all of them are kind of horrible in a way. But that’s because the way we think of weddings and marriages in the US is rooted in a very patriarchal system. She notes that it can seem a little funny when she talks about these topics because they sound so anti-wedding industrial complex.

Can wedding vendors reflect their inclusivity through their pricing?

One of the forum participants shared that, as a new wedding vendor, they’d like to make their decisions about pricing more inclusive. She asked Elisabeth how she would potentially see that happening.

Elisabeth responded that the question about money in the wedding industry is a totally loaded one. She shared that when she started her business, she made less than minimum wage. She does not recommend doing this today. But that’s what she offered because she had a full-time job and was only testing out wedding planning as a career. These days, however, she charges between $1,800 to $2,300 for her services. That’s about $50 an hour, an amount that can be entirely cost-prohibitive for many couples.

What can be done for couples in such a situation? Elisabeth shared the following suggestions:

  • Offering a discounted or free rate for fiscal for, like, every fourth couple booked. Elisabeth said she knows some vendors who do this.
  • Providing free wedding planner resources for couples who want to do it themselves or have a friend who can do it.
  • Making themselves accessible. Elisabeth says she tries not to put her information in an ivory tower that people can only get to if they pay her.
  • Offering straight-up discounts for couples in vulnerable communities.

Sacred Fire Creative continues the conversation on diversity, equality, inclusion, and belonging in its series of free online forums. Check out the schedule of these events here: https://bit.ly/3bC6fV7.


Maria Ressa, Journalist and Activist

Journalism wasn’t always a life-threatening field of study. Times have changed, however, and some journalists have become activists who risk life and limb—even their freedom—to publish the truth. According to a New York Times article, 2018 was the most dangerous year on record for journalists; this trend has not shown any sign of waning.

No one knows this better than Filipino-American journalist Maria Ressa. She was Time Magazine’s Person of the Year 2018, part of this year’s Bloomberg 50 List, former bureau chief of CNN Philippines and Indonesia, and founder of Manila-based news outlet Rappler. In June of this year, in the middle of a global pandemic, she was convicted of cyber-libel.

Who is Maria Ressa?

Maria Ressa was born in the Philippines and moved to the United States with her family as a young child. She spent her early years living in New Jersey and studied English and Theater at Princeton University. In the 1980s, after the regime of dictator Ferdinand Marcos came to an end, Ressa decided to return to the Philippines. Back to her roots, she discovered journalism and spent the next 30 years as a television and broadcast journalist working around Southeast Asia. While working as a journalist, she had her first interview with Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, who would later become president of the Philippines in 2016.

She is the Chief Executive Officer of Rappler, which she founded in January 2012 along with three other female founders and 12 journalists. With the ultimate goal of building communities while using social media to do good, Rappler has grown into a well-respected independent news outlet known for its investigative journalism.

Before founding Rappler, Maria Ressa spent six years as the news division leader of ABS-CBN, formerly the Philippines’ largest TV network. Earlier this year, ABS-CBN was shut down due to legal issues, although many believe President Duterte had a direct hand in closing the networking giant down. This closure is just another example of the kind of political climate Ressa and other Filipino journalists face.

Covering Duterte’s “War on Drugs”

In 2016, under Ressa’s guidance, Rappler first started to cover President Duterte’s “army of trolls” who were seeding and spreading fake news to millions of his followers online during the Philippine presidential campaign. When he eventually won the election and became President, Rappler began to write stories on the administration’s “War on Drugs,” which killed over 7,000 people between July 2016 and July 2017.

During this dark time, President Duterte ordered the Philippine police to kill anyone they suspected of drug connections. Unsurprisingly, only small-time and usually lower-class drug users and street-side pushers were caught and killed in this brutal war. It left international syndicates and influential drug dealers who control the drug trade unscathed. Reporting on this is what put Rappler and Ressa in the spotlight and right in front of President Duterte’s line of fire. That would be the beginning of Ressa’s legal battles.

Her Legal Battles

Maria Ressa’s current legal battles stem from an 8-year old story that Rappler published alleging a Filipino business person had links to illegal drugs and human trafficking. The story was published in 2012, four months after the “cyber-libel law” was passed. In 2014, the story was re-published due to a typo, and the courts declared that it fell under the jurisdiction of the said law.

During the proceedings, the judge stated that Rappler did not offer proof of their allegations and convicted Maria Ressa with cyber-libel. She now faces the possibility of serving six years in jail. According to Ressa and Rappler, the case was politically motivated. Since 2018, there have been 11 cases filed against Rappler, including tax evasion and foreign ownership violations.

As her legal battles grew, so did her profile, both locally and internationally. She has become known worldwide as a symbol of standing up for the truth and battling an authoritarian president and would-be dictator. As Maria Ressa has said in an interview, “In a battle for facts, in a battle for truth, journalism is activism.”

An Inspiring Voice

The 2020 documentary “A Thousand Cuts,” produced by fellow Filipino-American Ramona S. Diaz, features Ressa. The film covers Maria Ressa and Rappler as they put up a fight against President Duterte’s attack on them and, inevitably, on freedom of the press. Throughout the film, Maria Ressa is a beacon of hope and strength-showing her humanity by voicing out her fears, yet never giving up on what she believes is right.

She has become an inspiring voice around the world. When Ressa talks about the attacks on freedom of speech, the truth, and facts, she is not just talking about the state of the Philippine press and politics but the state of the world. In this day and age, where people can get the news with a click of the button, they can also get fake news and lies at just the same speed. It has become Maria’s advocacy to stand up for facts and not give in to political pressure.

Currently, Maria Ressa is out on bail and still publishing. Rappler continues to cover the Philippines’ daily news, together with fearless views on the current Philippine administration. Ressa continues to stand for what she believes in and to fight the legal cases piling up against her and Rappler. It is interesting to note that in “A Thousand Cuts,” she asks the lawyer what the worst case can be filed against her. Her lawyer answered that it didn’t matter because the government would find the opportunity to file any claim against her, even child abuse, in their attempt to silence her.

From journalist to activist, Maria Ressa inspires journalists and women around the world with her strength and poise. She is an excellent example of the power of an individual who refuses to give up on facts and continues to fight for the truth.


NAWBO Oregon Past President Chosen for Exclusive Accelerated Growth Training

NAWBO Oregon past president and Sacred Fire Creative founder Malee Ojua joins a select group of 25 women business owners undergoing the NAWBO Accelerated Growth Program, a 10-month business leadership training created by NAWBO and sponsored by Wells-Fargo. 

Portland, OR, March 2021—Sacred Fire Creative (SFC) announced the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) selected SFC CEO Malee Ojua as part of its new learning program. Open to only 25 participants, the NAWBO Accelerated Growth Program helps women business owners scale up their enterprises.

The NAWBO Accelerated Growth Program aims to increase its participants’ market competitiveness.

The NAWBO Accelerated Growth Program is an offering of the organization’s Institute for Entrepreneurial Development. The program, launched in 2021, is a top-tier educational plan designed to help women business owners increase their competitiveness in their respective markets. It’s also meant to set them up for higher levels of growth and expansion. Wells-Fargo sponsors the program.

Participants are to attend eight one-hour online learning sessions for four months. Topics covered in these sessions include developing a leadership mindset, building successful teams, strategic planning, and brand messaging. After completing the program, they will take part in mentorship/mastermind groups for six months. They will also receive other benefits that will help them grow their business.

According to NAWBO, women own 40% of all privately held companies in the country today. Still, the size of their revenues remains significantly below other types of businesses. Educating women business owners enables them to progress to the same or greater levels.

NAWBO is a network of women business owners in the US formed in 1975. Its purpose is to share resources and to provide mutual support among its members. It also lobbies economic and public policies benefiting women entrepreneurs.

Sacred Fire Creative is named one of the top digital marketing agencies in Portland.

SFC is a Portland-based digital marketing agency specializing in helping its clients build a legacy through solid branding. With a unique and robust brand, SFC clients can forge deep connections with its customers, thus creating a loyal community. Among the companies that SFC has worked with are ArisGlobal Software, RiverWest Acupuncture, Johnson & Johnson, and NYU Langone Medical Center. Expertise.com named SFC one of the top digital marketing agencies in the city.

Aside from her role as SFC head, Malee Ojua is also involved with NAWBO’s Oregon chapter. She is the chapter’s current program director and served as its president in 2020. Additionally, she hosts bimonthly virtual forums on Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB). Ojua participated in the Goldman Sachs 10KSB program in 2019. A former aeronautics engineer, she founded SFC in 2014.


10 Questions with Abby Tarsches

In her own words, Abby Tarsches loves photographing people. A fine art photographer whose work has been published in the likes of Vogue and Bazaar, Abby strives to capture her subjects in their most beautiful and authentic. Every photo is a moment of memory and should, therefore, be timeless and enduring.

With these ten questions, Abby shares her insights on her work and life.

If you could go back in time, what would you tell your 11-year-old self?

Nothing stays the same. Go with the change.

What advice do you wish you had been given when you first started your business?

Get educated regarding running the business side of things.

What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned the hard way (in life or business)?

You cannot control everything. Live and let live.

What do people always get wrong about you or what you do?

That my work is glamorous and sexy all the time.

What shifts did you make in life or business as a result of the pandemic?

Focusing on shop local. Using all my skills as a photographer to help others keep their memories alive.

What do you love about what you do?

I love how a camera can freeze a moment in time. That people’s portraits and special occasions will have a history that will be remembered. I love that every time I photograph, I learn and see something new. That hopefully, I can make someone’s life better through the art of photography.

What is the best thing about doing business in Portland?

People are very friendly here. I like the connections I have made.

What is one of your favorite things to do where you live?

I love to hike with my dog at Mt Tabor!

Who has been the most important influence in your life and why?

My two children, Iris and Cara. They have expanded my heart and soul and give me new perspectives on life every day!

Who do you help in your business?

Women with body positivity and empowerment, business owners, families, and individuals.

Sacred Fire Creative features the members of Portland Connect Online in this series. Our goal here is to help womxn realize that they are extraordinary, that they can make a difference in their own lives, as well as in others’.

For Abby Tarsches, making a difference means capturing her subjects’ inner beauty with her photographs and helping them keep cherished memories alive.


10 Questions with Winslett Carr

Winslett Carr is an acupuncturist specializing in treating a range of women’s health issues, including sexual and reproductive health. It gives her great satisfaction in seeing her patients find relief from stress, chronic pain, and other conditions.

Her patients’ experiences mirror her own. In her 20s, Winslett led a stressful lifestyle working as a researcher for a non-profit in Washington, D.C. The day-to-day stress led her to get diagnosed with Crohn’s disease. It was rather ironic, considering that the non-profit she worked for is in the women’s health niche. Her quest for better health led her to study Chinese medicine and switching careers.

Winslett’s years of experience, both as a patient and as a clinician, have equipped her to help other women find healing. She shares her insights on her work and her life with Sacred Fire Creative by answering these 10 questions:

1. If you could go back in time, what would you tell your 11-year-old self?

Enjoy your time growing up: play softball, have fun with your friends, keep enjoying your favorite subjects, but most importantly, be your most authentic self. This will guide you to where you need to be.

2. What advice do you wish you had been given when you first started your business?

Start now, even if you start small. Find a mentor who can show you the ropes. Connect with colleagues in the field and beyond and stay in touch with your community for support. Send referrals; receive referrals.

3. What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned the hard way (in life or business)?

If you have no expertise in an area (tax planning), do not hammer yourself about it. Find and pay for excellent professional help and re-focus on what you do best.

4. What do people always get wrong about you or what you do?

Acupuncturist is a title, not the act of what I do. Acupuncturists study Chinese medicine and East Asian medicine theory, modalities, herbs, and nutrition. We are not just technicians with needles; we practice the complete art of medicine.

5. What shifts did you make in life or business as a result of the pandemic?

Although I spend as much time in the room with a patient as before, I do it wearing scrubs, masks, protective eyewear. I crinkle my eyes more to show people I’m smiling behind the mask. That, and I spend more time allowing Cavicide to dry on every surface between patients and before resetting the treatment room for the next patient. New normal.

6. What do you love about what you do?

I love hearing each person’s unique story. They’re not just sharing a health history but the way they shape their lives and what their dreams and goals are for the future. If I can help them, in some small way, to continue moving towards their dreams and goals, well, there’s nothing better than helping people in that way.

7. What is the best thing about doing business in Portland?

Portland is still a wonderfully small city with 7 degrees of separation. There are many entrepreneurs here. Everyone understands that if you are an effective and caring professional, your business will steadily grow.

8. What is one of your favorite things to do where you live?

I hike to see everything that the area offers. Portland and the entire Pacific Northwest are filled with world-class vistas—Douglas fir-covered capes with trails to secluded beaches, the snow-covered Cascade Range of still active volcanoes, prehistoric forests with cool mountain streams, and even high desert landscapes with wild horses.

9. Who has been the most important influence in your life and why?

My mother is a force and a force for good for everyone who surrounds her. She returned to graduate school with my then-infant brother in tow. She works smart for sure, but she gets more things done in a day than almost anyone I know. She’s a “Type A” and also very intuitive and caring. I aim high because of her, and I help others where I can because that’s what she always did.

10. Who do you help in your business?

I help women working on goals and really pursuing their dreams of having a family, having health, living authentically and pain-free.

Sacred Fire Creative shines the spotlight on the members of Portland Connect Online in this series. Through this series, we aim to help womxn realize and believe that they can be extraordinary and make a difference in other people’s lives.

For Winslett Carr, making a difference means assisting women in their journey to better health and a family of their own through her acupuncture practice.


10 Questions with Brittani Pomeroy

Brittani Pomeroy is a great believer in autonomy. As an Insurance Advisor with Elliott, Powell, Baden & Baker, she works closely with her customers as their advocate. She believes it’s her job to help her clients feel secure that they have the best options in place in case they meet with unforeseen losses.

Brittani answers ten questions for Sacred Fire Creative. Through these answers, she lets us into her thoughts on the work she does and the life she lives today.

1. If you could go back in time, what would you tell your 11-year-old self?

Change is constant; we must learn to look for the positive in every transition.

2. What advice do you wish you had been given when you first started your business?

Slow down and make sure to build the proper foundation for your business. This is a marathon, not a sprint.

3. What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned the hard way (in life or business)?

The impact of not having the proper foundation. It makes it harder to maintain the same level of success and service.

4. What do people always get wrong about you or what you do?

I am a very direct person. At times I’ll have a coworker tell me that I am not open to their opinion. But that is not correct. Instead, I like to understand their reasonings so I can process and make my own determination.

5. What shifts did you make in life or business as a result of the pandemic?

I now have to make time to help my son with his homework. So at times, my work hours are not the typical work hours.

6. What do you love about what you do?

I truly love partnering with my customers to make sure they have the necessary coverages for unforeseen losses.

7. What is the best thing about doing business in Portland?

Portland is a city with a small-town feel. The individuals I have worked with seem to like to sell based on relationships.

8. What is one of your favorite things to do where you live?

I love that I can walk to my grocery store, bakery, ice cream shop, nails. Plus, I have an amazing view of Mt. Hood.

9. Who has been the most important influence in your life and why?

My grandmother. She always taught me to be true to myself and pay attention to actions over words.

10. Who do you help in your business?

I partner with companies that want to make sure they have the proper insurance for their business today plus future endeavors they have planned.

Sacred Fire Creative showcases the members of Portland Connect Online in this series. Our aim is to let all womxn realize that they are capable of doing extraordinary things. Womxn can make a difference, not just in their own lives but also in others’.

In Brittani Pomeroy’s case, it’s all about helping people put down safeguards that will protect them against uncertainty and unforeseen losses. She encourages her clients to be proactive about their future.


10 Questions with Jennifer Armenta

Jennifer Armenta started many businesses, but it took some trial and error and plenty of effort to succeed and thrive. Like most womxn, she realized the value of enjoying life a little too late. She also learned ideas don’t simply bring success; research and empathy do.

Jennifer is a Highlands Certified Consultant and Certified Career Services Provider. She revels in helping her clients find confidence within themselves to do what they need to do. She believes being true to yourself is great, and having plans for your future is even better.

Here’s an insight into Jennifer’s personal and work thoughts:

1. If you could go back in time, what would you tell your 11-year-old self?

I would tell myself to remember to always have fun. Being an adult is full of responsibilities. It is important to have fun and laugh every day.

2. What advice do you wish you had been given when you first started your business?

Make sure that what you are offering is something your customer needs or wants. Just because you think it is a good idea does not mean that everyone will. Do your due diligence before you launch your business.

3. What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned the hard way (in life or business)?

I have started many businesses in my life. Some have been successful, and some have not. After my last business did not work out, it took me several years to get back up. My current business is thriving, but it is because I learned from the past. I had to look back at what didn’t work and create new strategies that led to success.

4. What do people always get wrong about you or what you do?

Thinking that all coaches are the same. I distinguish myself by taking a very intuitive approach to each client. Each person that I work with has different fears, goals, and expectations. So, I develop a unique plan for each client I work with, providing the most value I can with the time we spend together.

5. What shifts did you make in life or business as a result of the pandemic?

I have been very lucky that I have not had to make significant changes. Although I genuinely miss in-person meetings, I can provide all of my services virtually.

6. What do you love about what you do?

I love helping someone confidently make a big decision about their future. There is nothing better than seeing someone’s face light up when they finally figured out what their next steps are. It feels good to be there for someone through these milestones.

7. What is the best thing about doing business in McMinnville?

The amazing community. McMinnville is a wonderful place to do business. The Chamber of Commerce, McMinnville Economic Development Partnership, and other local groups truly support local business owners.

8. What is one of your favorite things to do where you live?

I love spending time with friends and family in downtown McMinnville. There are fantastic restaurants, coffee shops, and pubs that we frequent regularly.

9. Who has been the most important influence in your life and why?

My parents. They always taught me to be true to myself and follow my intuition. With this solid foundation, I am now able to help my clients do the same.

10. Who do you help in your business?

I help people who are in career transition. I love helping older students clarify their next steps in life. I also work with new and aspiring leaders to identify their strengths and help them confidently develop their leadership style.

We’re trying to let all womxn know that they can make a difference. You don’t need to be special, above average, or anything else but yourself to be significant. Sacred Fire Creative showcases members of Portland Connect Online to show you that ordinary womxn like you and me can do extraordinary things.

In Jennifer Armenta’s case, she encourages people to find themselves and set goals for their future. She enjoys empathetically leading people as well as managing employees and developing organizations. With this, she empowers not only herself but also others.


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