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caitlin stone 560Caitlin Stone, creator and moderator of the twice-monthly Saugeen Shores Women’s Advisory Board meetings.

“You can always tell who the strong women are. They're the ones building each other up instead of tearing each other down.” - Author unknown

Hub Staff

Women of Saugeen Shores, from newcomers to entrepreneurs, have the opportunity to come together and use each other for guidance, as soundboards, and to offer support at the Saugeen Shores Women’s Advisory Board, created and moderated by Port Elgin entrepreneur Caitlin Stone.

Advisory Board meetings work as a place for authentic networking opportunities where members can introduce themselves, their line of work, build leadership skills, ask questions, get ideas and speak organically in a confidential setting.

Stone said the meetings, which went through a few trial runs in 2017, have given her the opportunity to meet women of all ages, and have proven valuable to those who attend, even for organizer Stone. “I’ve learned about businesses and opportunities that I previously had no idea existed,” said Stone ahead of January 23 meeting at the Plex. “From new business resources to ideas for self growth and development, I have learned so much from the women who are attending and it has opened my eyes further to what the community of Saugeen Shores has to offer,” she said.

Stone admitted that for her the biggest benefit is the motivation she gets from the women who attend. ”It’s so nice to come together with a group of strong, capable women, and feel like we’re in this together and we’re collaborative and we’re allies. Sometimes when you are in business for yourself or working in a one person department, we can feel a little isolated. Having a group of women to lean on and go to for support can make all the difference.”

Stone went on to say that larger firms and organizations have multiple departments of expertise to rely upon such as marketing, human resources, legal, and tech. “I thought it would be beneficial if we, as entrepreneurs and professional women, came together to offer those areas of expertise to one another and create our own board of advisors through this group,” she said.

Stone said that her number one goal of the Saugeen Shores Women’s Advisory Board meetings is to break down the stigma of woman versus woman.

“I think women often see one another as competition, and that we have a tendency to judge ourselves based upon what other women are doing. We are most powerful when we drop that mindset and see each other as allies and come together for growth and development,” said Stone, going on to say that she wanted to create a culture of support. “I want to create a culture where women are supportive of one another, and if one of us experiences success, we don’t see it as less success to go around for the rest of us. There is plenty of success to go around, and our opportunity to reach our own goals does not decrease just because someone else is also reaching theirs.”

Each month there is a morning meeting as well as an evening meeting, both held in the Meeting Room at the Plex in Port Elgin. The morning meeting begins at 8:30 a.m. and occurs the first Wednesday of each month (the next morning meeting takes place February 7) and the evening meeting takes place every third Tuesday and begins at 7:30 p.m. Both meetings cost $5 to attend.

The evening meeting held January 23 saw almost 20 women come together and included women who grew up in Saugeen Shores as well as women who had recently moved to the area to start their business. For Saugeen Shores Family Eye Care’s office manager, Steph Carr, the Women’s Advisory Board meetings gave her the chance to give others suggestions and ideas on how to create a thriving business. “[Saugeen Shores Family Eye Care has] grown a lot over the past seven years and we’ve gone through a lot of trials and tribulations of a new business. Now that we’re more in our growth stage and expanding I think that I can add a lot of best practices and things that we went through for some of the businesses starting out,” said Carr, adding, “I think that there’s something to learn from everyone whether they've only been in business for six months or 20 years so I’m just here to see what kind of things there are out there to enhance our business.” The office manager said there is more to the meetings than just help for entrepreneurs and admitted that it is a place to meet people and a place to possibly find a job opportunity or connect with people who know about jobs.

First time attendee Jami Smith, a contract administrator for Bruce Power, said the Advisory Board meeting was an opportunity to network with different people throughout the community, many of whom she had never met before. “I found a lot of the dialogue really engaging and the ability to have those conversations,” said Smith following the January 23 meeting. Smith admitted that someone doesn’t need to come from an entrepreneur role to get something out of the meetings. “I think there will be a space for that, where those of us that are in the corporate space will have that ability to talk about non-marketing things, but ultimately there was great conversation, great ability to meet people new to the community and not. And it was very friendly environment,” said Smith.

For more information about the Saugeen Shores Women’s Advisory Board call or text 519-572-9338 or email at caitlin@southpawcanada.com.

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