Women-Owned Business Market Features Local Entrepreneurs

The Women’s Center partnered with the Wake Forest School of Business to host the first Women-Owned Business Market on Mar. 20. Wake Forest students and faculty gathered in the Founders Living Room of Farrell Hall to showcase the work of local female entrepreneurs in celebration of Women’s History Month. 

“This event is part of a larger focus on pay equity and gender equality in the workplace,” Director of the Women’s Center Shelley Sizemore said. 

The Women’s Center has hosted several events in March to raise awareness of the multifaceted challenges that women face in the workplace and beyond. This women-owned business market was an inaugural event, taking inspiration from the Women’s Center Craft Market in the fall and the Black-Owned Business Market hosted by the Intercultural Center in February. The market featured vendors in a diverse range of industries, from craft making to tax preparation. 

The event served as a platform for community leaders to share their businesses and success stories, inspiring attendees to pursue entrepreneurial endeavors. Owner of Glass Moxie, Sarah Gurstelle, shared her journey and the importance of community support for a relatively new business owner. 

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“I started making stained glass pieces about a year ago, and I just fell in love with it,” Gurstelle said. “I decided to go into business for myself with the encouragement of other artists from the community.” 

A number of businesses had products available for purchase at the market. (Dhruv Patel)

Gurstelle conveyed that art serves as an outlet to pursue social justice, creating pieces that advocate for reproductive rights during the overturn of Roe v. Wade in June of 2022, which ended the constitutional right to an abortion. For Gurstelle, using her craftsmanship as a form of protest inspires her to amplify the voices of those impacted by systemic injustices by making powerful pieces. 

“I don’t shy away from subjects that I feel passionate about like this image of the reproductive system I made when Roe V. Wade was overturned,” Gurstelle said. “I was sick and could not attend the protests; therefore, I channeled that energy into my art.” 

The event also featured LaToya Moore who started her firm “A Tax Koore” after years of navigating the complex tax system on her own as a young adult. 

“I was working two jobs after graduating high school, and my parents could no longer claim me as a dependent on their taxes, so I started doing them for myself,” Moore said.

Moore expressed that helping other entrepreneurs achieve their financial goals is deeply fulfilling, and it serves as a reminder of her desire to enter the business. 

“It’s been a lifelong dream to have my own firm in preparing taxes and help small businesses navigate their payroll, bookkeeping and LLCs,” Moore said. 

Attendees had the opportunity to browse tables and purchase items from busineses. (Dhruv Patel)

According to Sizemore, the goal of the Women’s Center is to promote gender equity across campus; however, Women’s History Month took on new significance this year.  With the national theme of “Women who advocate for diversity, equity and inclusion,” the goal of the Women’s Center programming is to foster inclusivity surrounding the idea of womanhood. 

“One of the most important things for us at the Women’s Center is showcasing different ways to conceptualize what it means to be a woman,” Sizemore said. 

The Women’s Center, The Intercultural Center and the LQBTQ+ Center work closely to promote inclusivity and belonging on campus. Representatives from across these three centers showed support by attending the event, emphasizing a commitment to collaborate regularly on various initiatives that foster diversity, equity and inclusion at Wake Forest.

“I thought it was important to support my fellow colleagues and create opportunities for students who are interested in entrepreneurship,” Director of the Intercultural Center Monique Gore said.

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