Friday, September 14, 2007

Women For Hope

Pam and Tom Swider run Women For Hope, a web-based business which provides information and resources about various women-related issues such as sexual assault, domestic violence, heart disease, and ovarian cancer.

At the heart of Women For Hope is a shopping boutique that features fun and unique products for women. All the products featured are made by companies that are women owned or run. Pam and Tom also have their own awareness jewelry line in which 10% of the proceeds is donated to the charity connected with that specific cause.

In its quest to combat women-related causes, Women for Hope has partnered with national and local charities that deal with cancer, sexual assault, domestic violence, eating disorders, and AIDS.

Here Pam shares her stories and thoughts on starting Women For Hope:

Pam’s Story
“I am a rape survivor. It was a long road to recovery and the thing that really kept me going was hope. I found that hope in lots of ways, especially from the crisis center I went to and knowing that I wasn’t alone. I also wanted a way to give back to those that helped me and help others every day. My husband, Tom, has a background in counseling, so he really understands where I am coming from. He also taught self-defense classes and knows how important information can be when you are dealing with a trauma. He was right on board with my idea of a company that brought women together to help each other. We work together to make Women For Hope a reality.”

A Balancing Act
“Tom and I both work full time jobs. We have the benefit of working together and both wear a lot of hats. Weekends are pretty packed with working on the site, making jewelry and doing art shows (which we just started) We also work in the evenings, but try to have at least one night during the week when we take a breather.”

“We both have our bachelor’s degrees. I have worked in sales and marketing. Tom has done sales and also [experience in] training and presenting. We also both have started businesses, which didn’t work out, but taught us a lot. Because of our backgrounds, we take things one step at a time. With us both having marketing experience, which has helped us think out of the box and look at things from that point of view, rather than from an artist’s point of view as far as promoting the company.”

Business Challenges
“Finding money to invest into the business is always a hurdle, as well as getting the word out about us to the general public. Time management is always a challenge-reminding ourselves that we need a break every once in a while.” “The most challenging part has been to keep up the slow and steady pace we are on. I think when you start a business, patience is extremely important. It is tempting to try to find that one thing that is going to make you “hit it big” and unfortunately, that just doesn’t happen. The worst thing to do is have big expectations when you are trying to get things off the ground and then getting disappointed. We both learned that from our previous business ventures. We keep each other in check and remind ourselves on a regular basis what our focus is and how we need to take small steps to reach our goals.”

Best of Show
“Our best experience so far was last weekend, we just revamped our display and changing it from kind of basic to a new look. We are using a “woman’s dresser top” as our model. We added big wooden boxes that are like jewelry boxes to display the jewelry. We also added lots of Gerber daisies (our logo and theme of the website) to accent the display. It got lots of ooohs and ahhs and we had a lot of people stop by.”

Marketing Avenues
We market our items mainly through the web. Because of the agreements we have with the non-profits, some of them have put links on their sites to our sites. This has helped both with customers finding us from them and also raising our search engine appearances.” “We also use word of mouth and carry cards with us always. I wear the jewelry as often as I can. I say I am a walking billboard!”

Generating Press
“We have done press releases ourselves, but the biggest press opportunities have come from the cancer charity we work with doing press pushes and including us in this.”

Motivated by…
“The fact our business helps others is a big motivator. It is amazing when we hear from someone how wearing one of our bracelets helps them get through the day. Or getting an email from someone who has been assaulted thanking me for telling my story. It is when I get those that I know I am doing what I am supposed to be doing.”

“We are also motivated about the usual…being our own boss, working for ourselves, financial security, and the pride of owning a business.”

“We are inspired by strong women and men who make a difference. For example, we recently had the opportunity to meet Angela Shelton. She was an actress/writer in Hollywood who decided to do a documentary about women in America. Her hook was to interview all the other Angela Sheltons across the US. Once she started talking to them, she discovered that, like herself, the majority of them had been raped, abused or sexually abused by family members. Her journey leads her to confront her abusive father and in the process find herself. The movie is called “Searching for Angela Shelton.” It was amazing to watch and she was amazing to meet. She has made it her life mission to help those who are survivors of abuse and though she is constantly confronted with stories of trauma, she is uplifting and positive. I hope to be able to touch just a small part of the people she has with her mission.”

Words of Advice-Follow Your Dreams
“ Do what you believe in. Be patient and take each day one day at time. If you have a dream, don’t be afraid to follow it and don’t let someone talk you out of doing what you know is right.”

Pam and Tom Swider
Women for Hope

1 comment:

helen said...

It's great that there are such women sites as Women For Hope!