Inspire, Motivate and Support: Women’s Entrepreneurship Week Event


Lisa Ascolese, “The Inventress”

Women entrepreneurs gathered in The Duncan Family Sky Room on October 18 for a networking event hosted by the Ignite Institute as part of Women Entrepreneurship Week (WEW). The event was co-sponsored by the Department of Women’s Studies, the School of Business, community partners Rising Tide Capital and Greater Newark Enterprises Corporation (GNEC) and made possible by The Provident Bank Foundation. WEW is an initiative started by Montclair State University in 2014. Last week, various institutions around the world, including Saint Peter’s, held events to increase the visibility of female entrepreneurship and to inspire, motivate and support women in business.

The event included networking, a panel discussion, question and answer session and a workshop led by “The Inventress,” Lisa Ascolese on how to launch and market new products. On the panel were local entrepreneurs Lorna McManus, vice president of Green Pea Investments; Tina Tang, CEO of Iron Strong Jewelry and Kris Ohleth, founder of Garden State Kitchen. Vanessa Quijano, small business coordinator for the Jersey City Economic Development Corporation, moderated. The majority of the audience was women, most of whom were small business owners themselves—they represented a vast array of industries including kitchen start-ups, education, career coaching, candy, health and wellness, and even a funeral home director.

The panel started with a discussion on what inspired each of the women to start their own company.
Tang responded that she was unhappy in her career and knew she wanted to do something with her life that made her excited. She said she quit her day job before she knew what she wanted to do. “People said that was really courageous, but I thought of it more about survival,” she said. “Now, I make other people feel good through jewelry and personal training.”


Panelists from left: Lorna McManus, Tina Tang and Kris Ohleth

Ohleth was also unhappy at her job. She had many ideas, and needed time and guidance to develop a business plan. At first, she wanted to open a restaurant. She went to Rising Tide Capital and they coached her to look to the environment in the community and see where there was a need, and then figure out how to fill that need. It has been two years since she had that “light bulb” moment.

The women agreed that they had faced adversity in the work place, but that their own thoughts were more detrimental than the thoughts or actions of others.

“What is most important is not to succumb to your own insecurities and not be limited by your own beliefs and your own self-doubts,” said Ohleth, who suggested reading the book Playing Big: Finding your Voice, Your Mission, Your Message by Tara Mohr, which gives practical advice for women in business.


Entrepreneur participants from left: Jamie Wilson Murray, Erin Kumpf, Beatrice Johnston, Daniela Galvez and Dawn McLaughlin

When asked if the women thought there was a time when they might fail, they all agreed that they have learned from their failures.

“I have failed,” said Ohleth, “That is what has made me strong on this journey.”

McManus made a suggestion to keep a journal, and record at least one success every day. That way, when thoughts of failure start to come up or a person feels as though they have hit a “failure patch,” they can look at the journal and remind themselves that they are on a path to success.

McManus also suggested that fear was part of being an entrepreneur, “Embrace the fear and allow yourself to feel, and then realize that is just an emotion, not reality,” she said.

The panel discussion was followed by a dynamic workshop lead by Ascolese “The Inventress” and CEO of Inventing A to Z. She is also the president of the Association of Women Inventors and Entrepreneurs. She has been inventing since she was nine years old. She led a workshop on inventing and encouraged participants to create products that would solve problems, arguing that solution oriented products sell.

Continue the conversation on Twitter with the hashtags #WomenEntrepreneurshipWeek, #WEW2016 and #LearnInventTalk. Follow @IgniteStPeters for more information about upcoming events to follow the conversation from WEW.