Ithaca female entrepreneurs find growth and support through close TIES

Rachel Hogancamp is a woman entrepreneur in a male-dominated landscape.

She speaks with a determined quietness so as not to disrupt the meditative atmosphere that she has created at Rasa Spa, which she co-owns in Ithaca, N.Y. Hogancamp says that in seven years, her business has found solid footing in the city through its partnership with Cayuga Medical Center, and Island Health and Fitness. However, she still encounters numerous daily hurdles as a woman running her own business.

“Just in general, being a woman in business — I think just in general being a woman in this society — you have to know that you’re going to have to do things that might be a little bit harder, maybe work a little bit different angle,” she says.

Female entrepreneurship is still a fairly new concept. The Equal Credit Opportunity Act ,which gives women the right to get credit in their own name, was enacted in 1974. However, women now run more than half of all small business in the United States, according to American City Business Journals. There more than 10 million business owned by women in the country, which generate $1.9 trillion in sales, according to the National Association of Women Business Owners. Despite this statistic, women business owners were still 15 to 20 percent less likely than men to receive approval on their small business loan applications, according to findings from Biz2Credit, an online credit marketplace.

While Hogancamp owns half of Rasa, the other half is owned by Island Health and Fitness, which is run mostly by men. She says she has found support in an upper-New York organization called Women TIES, which helps women entrepreneurs promote their regional marketplace. Sorry, either Adobe flash is not installed or you do not have it enabled

Women TIES, founded in 2005 by current president Tracy Higginbottham, focuses on six regions in northern N.Y., including Syracuse, Greater Ithaca, Greater Rochester, Northern, Mohawk Valley and Greater Albany. The organization exists to counteract gender inequality in the financial world by encouraging women to support female-driven businesses, Higginbottham said.

“I ask women to buy from as many women-owned businesses as possible whenever they can,” she said. “It’s up to the current generation of women to make women financially stronger today.”

In order to bolster women’s presence in the financial market, many female business consultants encourage women to seek out female networks and refrain from isolating themselves and their social groups. Vicki Donlan, business coach and columnist for Huffington Post, says women often place themselves at a disadvantage.

“Men are not the obstacles,” Donlan said. “Quite honestly I think if women were to support other women the way men have done really throughout their existence, we are the majority. We do have the talent.”

Women in general, not just business owners, need to explore the value of female connections, said Kerry Flannery, an active TIES member and local small business assistant for Hot Mess Consulting.

“I think people should ask for help,” she says. “Ask for help; ask for opinions. People should get their hands on everything they can and start with a footing that makes sense for them. There is so much possibility and so many things you can be doing.”

Presently, Women TIES has over 300 members throughout northern New York, and holds networking events in Ithaca four times a year. The next Ithaca program will be held in January 2014.