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Cornelius News

LKN Women’s Conference focuses on breaking the mold

Jessica Bronzert of The Sparks Group speaking on “Be Resilient, Be Bold”

Jessica Bronzert of The Sparks Group speaking on “Be Resilient, Be Bold”

By Erica Batten. Imagine eating dinner at your favorite Chinese restaurant, opening the fortune cookie in hopes of a kernel of wisdom, and instead reading, “About time I got out of that cookie!”

“Don’t wait for the fortune cookie” for guidance, said executive coach Amy Clement at the annual Lake Norman Women’s Conference held at The Peninsula Club March 22.

Hosted by the Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce’s Diversity Council, the event featured inspiration from women in business throughout the region, a wine and cheese networking reception sponsored by Executive Women of Lake Norman, swag bags, door prizes and a fashion show.

Keynote speaker Cindi Basenspiler, managing director of Upshot Inc., presented “Breaking the Mold: A Non-Traditional Path to Enlightened Success.”

“Even if you’re in the corporate world, it’s good to frequent women’s businesses and get to know women who run those businesses”

— Jenniffer Pickerill

Dr. Jessie Mullen, owner of Holistic Hands Chiropractic in Cornelius and chair of the Diversity Council, defined the conference’s “Breaking the Mold” theme as doing something unexpected.  While this may mean women entering traditionally male-dominated professions, it could also mean finding creative approaches to customer service, marketing and leadership.

“Their goal is to promote the fact that there are very diverse businesses in the Lake Norman area,” Mullen said of the Diversity Council.  “One of our [female] council members owns The Range at Lake Norman. We are not a women’s group, though; the next chair is going to be a man.”

Chamber CEO Bill Russell welcomed the 117 attendees to the conference.  He said that the Lake Norman Chamber has always had a strong female membership. The chamber is an agent of change, he said, and the Lake Norman area is welcoming to entrepreneurs—men and women—who want to break the mold.

The chamber itself broke from traditional membership paradigms several years ago when it began offering tiers of membership based not on the number of employees in a business, but on packages that members choose based on their goals, said Elizabeth Morgan, the chamber’s membership director.

Trish Furino attended the conference as a representative of both Pet Paradise, an event sponsor, and her business, Lemongrass Spa Products. She routinely asks women to change in an area that’s especially difficult: beauty products. Lemongrass products are natural and animal-cruelty free, but still, Furino said, women are often reluctant to change.

“I ask women to bring their favorite product and compare it to mine,” she said. Offering first-hand experience with the product and facts to support her claims, Furino is often successful in convincing customers to adopt something new.

“If the theme of the conference is breaking the mold, how can you be resilient while you’re doing that?” asked conference speaker Jessica Bronzert, founder of The Sparks Group, a change consulting firm.  Bronzert outlined several keys to resilience in women’s business and personal lives: Remaining positive, organized and flexible.

It’s also important to build relationships in unexpected places.

Jenniffer Pickerill of Wells Fargo in Charlotte attended the conference to learn about women-led local businesses and build a support network.

“Even if you’re in the corporate world, it’s good to frequent women’s businesses and get to know women who run those businesses,” she said.