Fostering, celebrating and advancing
women’s business ownership in Vermont.

Featured Member Profiles

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Over the next several months we’ll be profiling some of the women behind WBON. Learn more about them and pick up some inspiration and resources for your own business too!


February: Heather Wright, WrightJones PLC


1.      Tell us a little bit about yourself and your business.

I am the Managing Partner of WrightJones, a law firm focusing our practice on labor, employment, and education law.  We practice primarily in Vermont, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire.  We represent exclusively employers, so we work with HR people, business owners, and school boards to frame employment policy, prevent and defend litigation, and negotiate collective bargaining agreements. 

Before becoming a lawyer, I spent over a decade in the HR field.  I am originally from California, and now live in South Burlington.  I enjoy knitting, reading, and hiking.

2.      What is your involvement with WBON, and what does the organization mean to you?

I have been a member for several years, and serve on the Public Policy Committee.  WBON is a fantastic resource for women to network, learn from each other, and support each other in their personal and professional growth. 

3.      What do you wish you had known before you got into business?

I wish I had known that I already possessed enough smarts, skills, and insight to be successful, and, by extension, I wish I had known to be confident in my own judgment.  I assumed other professionals had access to some sort of secret formula necessary to create a successful business; the truth is that we all had it inside us all along.  I just needed to get over my self-doubt and gain the self-confidence to just get out there and give my vision some life.  

4.      What resources (seminars, books, web sites, etc.) have been important to you in your development as a business owner?

Listening to a presentation by Miki Agrawal, the author of Do Cool Sh*t: Quit Your Day Job, Start Your Own Business, and Live Happily Ever After inspired me to branch out of the traditional lawyer career path and start a law firm that provided services in a way that aligned with my values. 

Chris Brogan’s book The Freaks Shall Inherit the Earth: Entrepreneurship for Weirdos, Misfits, and World Dominators was a good source of inspiration to keep going in my own weird way when things got tough. 

Memberships in Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility and Vermont Human Resource Association serve as sustaining resources for development in leadership in the business community. 

5.      What physical or mental surroundings help you do your best work?

I get made fun of a lot for this, but I can’t think clearly if my physical space is not clear, clean, and free of clutter.  So, at the end of each day, I create a prioritized to-do list for the next day, and then put everything away – all papers in the proper files, legal files put away in file cabinets, and the office tidied up.  When I get to work in the morning, it allows me to focus immediately on the task list I already set up for myself. 

6.      Who inspires you?

My boss during my first job out of college was a woman named Nona.  She was a strong, strategic thinker who balanced operational initiatives with an eye on the bigger picture.  She was a great example of the benefits of how authentic leadership is both compassionate and disciplined.  She was probably only 27 or 28 years old when I worked for her, and in hindsight I am truly impressed by the level of maturity in her leadership at such a young age. 

7.      What are you most proud of in your business?

The legal profession is a very traditional one.  In starting our firm, we sought to reevaluate every assumption about how a law firm “should” operate.  We thoroughly rethought processes and approaches to just about every aspect of the legal profession – from paper storage to client communication methods to website content to office culture.  Almost nothing that we do resembles the way it is done in traditional law firms, and our clients love it.  Ultimately, I am proud that our success is so closely tied to our choices to remain true to our vision and ideals.   


October: Gerette Buglion, Dream Haven Vermont


1.       Tell us a little bit about yourself and your business.
My business is Dream Haven of Vermont (http://www.dreamhavenvt.com/). My business has two different branches. One service is providing a retreat and vacation space in a rustic, simple setting. People can self-lead their retreat, or I can help individuals sculpt their experience by incorporating some of my other services: dream mentoring, reiki, and using nature as a place of grounding and immersion. Dream mentoring is helping people use their subconscious dreaming experience to harness the power of dreams to help themselves. I am a certified reiki practitioner and have a collaborative with two other reiki practitioners, Central Vermont Reiki (http://www.centralvtreiki.com/).
The other part of my business is providing education, outreach, and community awareness about destructive leaders. This is based on my experience with a life and business mentor who was manipulative, and I want to help others avoid that kind of experience.
I have been an entrepreneur for a long time—before Dream Haven I operated a cleaning business with up to 20 employees, so I have learned a lot from my experiences but I am also always learning more!

2.       What is your involvement with WBON, and what does the organization mean to you?
I love networking and have been part of many other organizations that connect me with other professionals.  What I like most about WBON is that it offers that networking piece but also provides an educational component that builds the relationships so much more. I feel a richness and a depth to my evolving relationships in WBON. I really enjoy collaborating with other professionals that I have met through WBON. For example, in October I am collaborating on a writing workshop with Paula Diaco, and I collaborate with Nancy Mosher with reiki and dream mentoring.  I feel like I have a tribe of people in WBON, which is such a gift. It is also incredibly refreshing to have the perspective of a diverse group of women within our male-dominated business culture.

3.       What do you wish you had known before you got into business?
For this question I hark back to my first business – the cleaning company. I developed a dependency on outside resources that became a detriment to the business financially, and also led me to believe my coach more than I believed myself. If I could go back and undo something, I would be very cautious to make sure that I was working with someone empowering me to make decisions on my own. I also wish that I had a firmer grasp of business finances in the beginning. I learned by seat of my pants and I now know that I could have benefitted from a few classes or workshops on the topic.
In the cleaning business I had a few key employees that I really trusted, but in retrospect I did not give them enough room to make some tough decisions on their own and become true leaders in the process. I really would encourage business owners with employees to step back more and let the team leaders figure things out on their own.
 
4.       What resources (seminars, books, web sites, etc.) have been important to you in your development as a business owner?
WBON has provided a lot of the resources I have needed, and I’m looking forward to the fall conference!  The comradery within the women’s business community has been tremendously important in building my business and my development as a business owner. The Vermont Small Business Development Center and Lamoille Economic Development Corporation www.vtsbdc.org  have also been a great resource.  About every 3-4 months I’ll do a half-day seminar of theirs at the Green Mountain Career and Tech Center in Hyde Park, and they are very helpful.

5.       What physical or mental surroundings help you do your best work?
Being able to get outside is very important to me—having easy access to have my feet on the earth. I need some fresh air year-round, and being able to look out the window and see the landscape as it changes with the seasons. Having that connection with nature is a helpful part of filling my place in the world. It grounds me in the work that I do.

6.       Who inspires you?
I am inspired by Mikau Usui, the man who developed Reiki in the 1920s. What most inspires me about him is that he relied on a lot of ancient knowledge, and created something new out of reverence and respect for the ancient traditions. His work was developed during a difficult time in our modern era, which is inspiring in light of the challenges we face in the world today. Also, I am inspired by my 21-year old daughter who is tremendously engaged in the world around her and committed to making a difference in these times of global strife. She is part of a group of young women who have a savviness about them that is so far beyond where I was in my 20s. Women of my daughter’s ilk are inspiring to me and give me hope for the future.

7.       What are you most proud of in your business?
I took a very difficult situation where I was dependent on a coach in an unhealthy way, and I was able to turn it around and make the lessons from this experience a branch of my business. I am very passionate about educating others about the unhealthy dynamic s of dependency so others can be aware of the red flags and don’t fall into the trap I did.  

September: Robin Singer, Juice Plus +


1.       Tell us a little bit about yourself and your business.

I grew up in Connecticut and as a young child my family always came to Vermont for ski vacations. In 1989, I graduated from Syracuse University with a BS in retail management and a minor in art history. I spent the first part of my career working with large retailers to open new stores. The long hours of retail didn’t mesh with having a young family, so I was a stay-at-home mom when I first moved to Vermont from Canada. Eating healthy has always been important to me, but I first became familiar with Juice Plus + in 2001. I tried the products and noticed my son with asthma no longer had a chronic bronchial cough and colds.  I wanted to share the benefits of whole food nutrition with other families so I became a representative for the Juice Plus + Company in 2008. They are the makers of Juice Plus + products and Tower Garden. I also represent the Tower Garden to encourage people to know where their food comes from.

 
2.       What is your involvement with WBON, and what does the organization mean to you?

I joined WBON in 2010 as a new business owner. Back then I did not feel I had very many business skills, but I was able to learn through coming to workshops and networking with other owners. At first I went to meetings just in the Stowe area but as my kids got older I started expanding to attend more events. Now I rarely miss a conference, and I’ve been able to introduce a few other women to WBON. The new Waterbury chapter is great for me because it’s close to my home.  In October, I will be doing a salad in a jar workshop at the Williston chapter meeting to help people learn to “eat the rainbow.”

3.       What do you wish you had known before you got into business?

Because I did not have anything to compare my business to, I didn’t really know what to expect. I came into my business being very passionate about the product, and in retrospect I could have done more to build the business behind the scenes. I remember one piece of advice to have a separate bank account for the business when you are first starting out—that’s something I learned at a WBON seminar. I did not always envision being an entrepreneur, but WBON has provided me with the confidence to succeed. I’ve really thrived on the camaraderie of other owners and learning from those who came before with similar business.
 
4.       What resources (seminars, books, web sites, etc.) have been important to you in your development as a business owner?

I think women naturally want to support each other and tap into relationships, so I get a lot out of going to monthly WBON meetings, watching webinars, and learning to network with others. BNI (www.bnivermont.com) was great in helping me to learn to network and have one-on-one relationships. I think not everyone views network marketing as a real profession, but Eric Worre has a book called “Go Pro” (http://networkmarketingpro.com/) that has really helped to raise the profile for the profession in the last five years. It is a great resource for anyone looking for a network marketing opportunity.
 
5.       What physical or mental surroundings help you do your best work?

Being around positive women. I work from home so I enjoy getting into the field to meet new people. I always try to connect with people at a later date.

6.       Who inspires you?

Cynthia Gompers & Cheryl Cortese are both very successful Juice Plus + distributors who make millions of dollars per year as distributors. Cheryl was a kindergarten teacher who had to raise two kids, and it’s inspirational to see her story of growing her distributorship into a full career. My business started as a way to earn a little extra money for me, but now it’s a full time career that provides a decent income that allows me to reinvest into my business and travel.
 
7.       What are you most proud of in your business?

I am very passionate about the products I represent. People are starved for nutrition because processed foods do not provide the nutrients our bodies crave. There are so many toxins and pesticides in conventional food we eat. I have seen the benefits of how Juice Plus + has impacted my own family’s health and I would like to help others reach their optimum health as well. 

August: Merryn Rutledge, ReVisions, LLC

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself and your business.

    I have had a lifelong interest in human relations and leadership development, although I might not have always known what to call it! I have owned my coaching and leadership development business, ReVisions LLC, for 22 years. While I used to do more organizational development work, I’ve come to find that leadership coaching is my true passion and so my primary focus is on helping leaders of all levels reach their potential.

    2.     What is your involvement with WBON, and what does the organization mean to you?

    Back in 1995 I joined WBON because my business was just getting started and I needed some help establishing myself and learning the ropes of being a business owner. I was previously a teacher and I am the daughter of a teacher and a government employee, so being in business was all new to me. WBON was a great help when I started out, and I eventually became a chapter coordinator. A few years ago I rejoined WBON to connect with women business leaders, who are a core client for me.

    3.     What do you wish you had known before you got into business?

    Well, I have been a coach for over 20 years but I sure could have used my own services back then! I am a very relational person and the coaching relationship is a great way for me to learn and grow. I could have saved a lot of time by partnering with a coach who could hone in on my individual needs and questions.
      Also, at the beginning I had a tendency to see my colleagues as competitors. After a few years, I had a real epiphany about competitors-- reframing these relationships as friends and helpmates. Other consultants are one of my sources of referrals.
       

        4.     What resources (seminars, books, web sites, etc.) have been important to you in your development as a business owner?

        Because I am so relationship oriented, I get my best insights from other consultants, coaches, and clients.  Partially thanks to WBON, my network is larger than ever before and there’s always something new to learn from somebody.

          I am also a writer, and my latest book is Strategic Planning Guidebook, how to plan, stay nimble, and keep momentum.  Available at http://www.northshire.com/book/9781605713007, or from any of the other online retailers.

          In addition, six times a year I write a blog at http://blog.revisions.org  with practical information and tools for managing and leading. Anyone can subscribe from my site or receive the blog by RS feed.  

          5.     What physical or mental surroundings help you do your best work?

            When working with my clients, I like to create a mental space where clients can identify their goals and work on a path to meet them. I find when I am fully in tune with my clients needs, we create a kind of sacred space together, and that is tremendously rewarding to me.  

            Otherwise, I like a quiet, organized environment. It’s important that I take some time for quiet reflection by journaling. The stillness helps rejuvenate me for when I work with clients.

            6.     Who inspires you?

              My clients inspire me through their willingness to explore their goals. They are brave people with an infectious curiosity and humility. I’m so fortunate to have met so many wonderful people through my business.

              7.     What are you most proud of in your business?

                I’m most proud to see the results of my work: helping people to perform well and supporting their courage in finding their ideal personal professional paths. Because of my experience as a consultant to all kinds of businesses, I also take pride in being able to give my clients a set of management tools and know-how that will help them. I’m currently working with a few clients to help them start a new business and that’s incredibly energizing for me.  


                July: Amelia Gulkis, EnSave

                1. Tell us a little bit about yourself and your business.
                I am an owner of EnSave, Inc. a diversified energy and environmental services company focused largely on the agricultural sector. We consult with a variety of clients across the United States to help farms and businesses reduce costs and reduce their environmental impact. We have 25 employees. I have been with the company since 2004 and have been an owner since 2010, and I have three business partners.

                2. What is your involvement with WBON, and what does the organization mean to you?
                I have been involved with WBON for a fairly short time. I had been looking for an organization where I could meet other business owners and I found out about WBON through a friend. I attended a conference and was hooked- everyone was so welcoming and it was great to connect with other business owners. I was honored to be elected to the board and am six months into my term. I feel that WBON is a well-kept secret in Vermont, and in my role on the board I’m trying to change that- I’d like to get more women involved in the organization so that more women business owners can benefit from the professional development and policy advocacy that WBON provides.

                3. What do you wish you had known before you got into business?
                Hmm, that’s a tough one to answer because there are so many things that I’m still learning and fine-tuning. Part of the challenge of being a business owner is having to keep your eye on so many things and really focusing on which elements of the business are working well and being the most profitable. It would be great to have a step-by-step guide to make sure you’re not missing anything!

                4. What resources (seminars, books, web sites, etc.) have been important to you in your development as a business owner?
                I always enjoy reading the Business People Vermont magazine because they focus on profiles of business owners and it’s always interesting to see the various paths people take to end up in their businesses. I recently enjoyed the book  Discover  Your True North (https://www.amazon.com/Discover-Your-True-North-George/dp/1119082943) . The book makes the case about the importance of authenticity in business. I think there are a lot of stereotypes about what a successful business owner looks like, lots of articles like “the ten things every good business person does before breakfast” and that kind of thing, and this book speaks about finding your own path. There’s a blog on the New York Times web site called “You’re the boss” that has guest bloggers post about real-world experiences they are having in their business, and I’ve found that to be interesting as well.

                5. What physical or mental surroundings help you do your best work?
                I am not super-particular about my physical surroundings for work, although I’m itching to redecorate my office! To do my best work I need to be surrounded by people who I can trust, and who I can bounce ideas off, complain to, and ask for help. Fortunately I have that in my partners. I need a mix of quiet time and engagement with other people—too much of one type of activity gets me antsy.

                6. Who inspires you?
                My two daughters are an inspiration to me and a constant reminder to do the best I can. I want them to be proud of the values I exhibit in my life, and I want my business to be a reflection of those values.

                7. What are you most proud of in your business?
                First, I’m proud of the nature of the work we do because I’m passionate about reducing energy and waste.  I am also very proud to have many excellent employees who have decided to spend a portion of their career with us. I am always trying to create opportunities for people to grow  within the company, just as I was given that opportunity. 


                June: Vickie Wacek, BNI Vermont 

                Catch up on your summer business reading with some recommendations from this opera singer and master marketer! Find out what inspires her and how she creates an environment which leads to success.


                1. Tell us a little bit about yourself and your business.

                I run a membership organization called BNI Vermont, which oversees the Vermont region of Business Network International (BNI) (www.BNIVermont.com), a “referral marketing” organization.  I have a B.A. in Mathematics and another B.A. and M.M. in Opera Performance, and no formal business training whatsoever except for real life experience!  Despite that, BNI Vermont is one of the most successful BNI regions in the world!

                2. What is your involvement with WBON, and what does the organization mean to you?

                WBON has been alongside me for my entire business career, starting when I was working as an insurance agent a just out of college.  I have been a member for 9 years, and I’m currently in the third year of my three-year board term. I’ve also been a co-coordinator the Burlington WBON chapter in the past.I’ve always enjoyed the relationship building and educational aspects of WBON.  I also greatly appreciate the female-centric perspective of WBON and its perspective on the business climate in Vermont

                3. What do you wish you had known before you got into business?

                To paraphrase our Spring conference keynote speaker, Melinda Moulton: if I had known what it really took to get to where I am now, and understood all the sacrifices and hard work and risk, I could have easily talked myself out of becoming the Executive Director of BNI Vermont. Therefore I’m grateful for allowing myself to take the plunge into entrepreneurship without knowing all the ways I could possibly fail.

                4. What resources (seminars, books, web sites, etc.) have been important to you in your development as a business owner?

                I have several:

                1. Leadership Champlain. This is a great Professional Development program put on by the Lake Champlain Regional Chamber of Commerce, and it taught me so much about leadership. I highly recommend it.
                2. Early on in my career, I invested in a professional development coach to help me identify my strengths and weaknesses. From this coaching, I learned to hone what people like about me and minimize what they don’t. Fortunately, many of our members are life/professional coaches so check them out!
                3. There are several books that stand out as making an impact on me, both personally and professionally:
                4. Inside the Magic Kingdom: Seven Keys to Disney’s Success, by Tom Connellan Click Here to view it on Amazon
                5. The World’s Best Known Marketing Secret: Building Your Business with Word-of-Mouth Marketing , by Ivan Misner Click Here to view it on Amazon
                6. Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don’t, by Simon Sinek Click Here to view it on Amazon
                7. Art of Happiness, Dalai Lama Click Here to view it on Amazon
                8. Finally, any TED talk I can get my hands on! I travel a lot and they are my constant companion in the car.

                5. What physical or mental surroundings help you do your best work?

                As entrepreneurs (and as women!) I think we have a tendency to say yes to everything, because we never want to miss an opportunity. However, to do my best work for others I need to be able to do my work at the best time for me, so I insist on controlling my own schedule.

                I am also really attuned to scents and I use essential oils to create an atmosphere that puts me in the right frame of mind. A lovely scent can really set the tone for the day.

                Finally, I need to surround myself with feedback- I’m happiest when I can count on constant feedback mechanisms from clients and members.  I am out in the public a lot, but I am also working from home a fair amount and I need to check in with others to make sure I’m doing the best I can.

                6. Who inspires you?

                Number one, my mother is my best friend and my main influence in life!  She is love incarnate and I aspire to be her!  Otherwise, I draw inspiration from many sources in my life and so many people and interactions, no matter how small. It’s what I call my “little blinding flashes of awakening” – bits of inspiration that I draw from the people around me on a daily basis.  

                7. What are you most proud of in your business?

                I am most proud of the trust I have earned from others, and for my integrity.  I have worked so hard to establish my reputation and it’s tremendously gratifying to have others give me their trust.  It really defines who I am as a person as well.  To me, that’s the gift of entrepreneurship—to have an unlimited opportunity to live up to the expectations you set for yourself. 

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