Party to launch women’s business support group

FORT COLLINS — A nonprofit organization aiming to support entrepreneurial women in Northern Colorado will hold a launch party Wednesday in Fort Collins.

Allied Women Entrepreneurs will host the party beginning at 6:30 p.m. at Fort Collins Brewery, 1020 E Lincoln Ave. Amber Hinds, who owns Au Coeur Design and chairs AWE’s board, said the event – funded with help from a $350 gift from the nonprofit OtterCares foundation – will introduce the organization to the community and offer memberships.

The idea for AWE was formed in December by Hinds and four other women who knew each other both through the businesses they owned and through parenting groups. “We realized that, of all the business support groups, nothing quite met what we were looking for,” Hinds said. “We were looking for more of an educational and support focus.” They officially founded AWE in January.

The group’s other founding members are vice chair and secretary Melinda Walker, who markets her art through heartMelinda.com; treasurer Danielle Stringer, owner and operator of the motherhood blog Dani Sue Dreams and marketing manager for her husband’s retail store, Colorado Vapors; director Carolyn Spranger, a Cheyenne-based photographer and videographer; and director Darcy Peters, community relations and business development manager of FIT4MOM Front Range.

The group has some ambitions plans, Hinds said, including a monthly meeting every fourth Wednesday. The first one is to feature Vallene Kailburn, owner and founder of Fort Collins-based Old Town Media Inc. A book club will study business-related books and those concerned with balancing work and family. From 9 a.m. to noon two Mondays a month, Hinds said, AWE will offer “co-working play dates” at the nonprofit Matthews House in Fort Collins, where women entrepreneurs can work while their children play together.

AWE will offer workshops similar to those conducted by the Small Business Development Center, Hinds said, as well as an annual conference starting next year – “You don’t have to be a woman to attend, but that’s our focus and mission,” she said – and “AWE-Inspiring Mentors,” a program she hopes will be “equally beneficial for the mentors and mentees, not just top down.”

Wednesday’s event is open to the public. Tickets can be purchased for $10 at the door or $5 online at www.alliedwomenentrepreneurs.org. Admission is free for those who already have paid to join AWE.