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Women Entrepreneurs Who Crashed Through the Glass Ceiling Share Strategies at the 8th Annual Shepherd’s Door Luncheon
By Marie Lemelle,MBA
Published March 30, 2017

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Assemblymember Chris Holden, 41st Assembly District, presented certificates of recognition to the participants at the Shepherd’s Door 8th Annual Women, Wealth, Warriors Entrepreneur Luncheon. On the red carpet, Grammy-nominee Angie Fisher, Publicist Marie Lemelle, Founder Tunisia Offray, Executive Director Linda Offray, and Toccara Jones, America’s Next Top Model Alumna.  (Photo Courtesy: M.C. Harris)

America’s Next Top Model Alumna Toccara Jones Delivered the Keynote Speech, Grammy Nominee Angie Fisher Performed, Comic Sunda Croonquist Hosted, and KABC7 Anchor Coleen Sullivan Moderated

Every day is Women’s Entrepreneurial Day. Women are one of the reasons for the rise of small business activity for nearly all 50 states and the top 40 metropolitan areas, including Los Angeles, California.

Coming off the heels of International Women’s Day and to encourage women to take a leap as an entrepreneur, Shepherd’s Door invited more than 200 women to network and hear from local women entrepreneurs at the 8th Annual Women, Wealth, Warrior, Entrepreneur Luncheon held at the Lake Avenue Church in Pasadena, California.

“I want to be able to encourage, inspire, educate, and motivate woman who share the same passion to be your own boss and create your own destiny,” said Tunisia Offray, a single mom of four and Founder of the Shepherd’s Door Luncheon. “That is one of the reasons the luncheon is free to women who want to join the entrepreneur community.”

KABC 7 Eyewitness News Anchor Coleen Sullivan served as the moderator of a panel of women entrepreneurs who shared their inspirational stories of challenges and successes. America’s Next Top Model Alumna Toccara Jones, owner of Toccara Jones Intimate Apparel delivered an engaging keynote speech about her rise to fame and passion to start her own business. Entertainment was provided by Grammy Nominee Angie Fisher whose performance brought joyful tears to the audience’s eyes, Comedian/Author of Kosher Soul Cook Book Sunda Croonquist had the crowd rolling over in laughter, and DJ Ms. Provocativ kept the festival mood going with great songs.

“I am proud to provide a platform for women to hear from a collective voice of women entrepreneurs and to encourage them to give your passion five years to be fruitful,” said Offray, owner of Prestige Insurance & Financial Services Inc. Offray understands the importance of balancing work and family. “Entrepreneurship allowed me to be a full time mother, and create a wonderful life for my family,” she said.

“It did not take me long to realize that corporate America did not support working mothers. After losing several jobs because the kids were ill, or I needed time off to attend school functions, parent teacher conferences, and other family obligations, I knew I had to find a way to create balance between being a present parent and provide for my family.”

Nicole Myles-Owner of Lailah’s Loft Boutique/Real Estate Investor; Temene Hardaway-Owner of Mor Essentials/Licensed Mortgage Officer; Sachi Lee-Owner of Au Courant Jewelry Boutique/Disc Jockey; Neferteri Plessy-Founder of Single Moms Planet Organization/Philanthropist;  Marie Lemelle-Film Producer/Casting Director/Owner of Platinum Star Public Relations; Tunisia Offray-Owner of Prestige Insurance & Financial Services Inc.; Dr. Azy Nasiry-Owner of L.A. Dental Clinic; and Kerri Zane-Executive Producer/Author/Single Mom Expert with Assemblymember Chris Holden who presented the certificates.  (Photo: M.C. Harris)

Nicole Myles-Owner of Lailah’s Loft Boutique/Real Estate Investor; Temene Hardaway-Owner of Mor Essentials/Licensed Mortgage Officer; Sachi Lee-Owner of Au Courant Jewelry Boutique/Disc Jockey; Neferteri Plessy-Founder of Single Moms Planet Organization/Philanthropist; Marie Lemelle-Film Producer/Casting Director/Owner of Platinum Star Public Relations; Tunisia Offray-Owner of Prestige Insurance & Financial Services Inc.; Dr. Azy Nasiry-Owner of L.A. Dental Clinic; and Kerri Zane-Executive Producer/Author/Single Mom Expert with Assemblymember Chris Holden who presented the certificates. (Photo: M.C. Harris)

Why support women-owned businesses? It makes good sense and helps women, many are the head of the household, maintain a strong, positive family dynamic. According to Women’s Business Enterprise National Council, a vast majority – 79% – of women will try a brand that supports women-owned businesses.

“My passion is to encourage, inspire, educate, and motivate woman who share the same dream to be your own boss and create your own destiny,” said Offray. “I want to provide women with the support, resources, and encouragement needed to step out and create the life they envision for themselves.”

The women entrepreneur panelists are: Nicole Myles-Owner of Lailah’s Loft Boutique/Real Estate Investor; Temene Hardaway-Owner of Mor Essentials/Licensed Mortgage Officer; Sachi Lee-Owner of Au Courant Jewelry Boutique/Disc Jockey; Neferteri Plessy-Founder of Single Moms Planet Organization/Philanthropist;  Marie Lemelle-Film Producer/Casting Director/Owner of Platinum Star Public Relations; Tunisia Offray-Owner of Prestige Insurance & Financial Services Inc.; Dr. Azy Nasiry-Owner of L.A. Dental Clinic; and Kerri Zane-Executive Producer/Author/Single Mom Expert with Assemblymember Chris Holden who presented the certificates.  Photo: M.C. Harris

Los Angeles County Supervisor Kathryn Barger, Senator Anthony J. Portantino, Assemblymember Laura Friedman, City of Pasadena Councilmember Victor Gordo presented each panelists with certificates of recognition for “their contribution by empowering women and the community through entrepreneurship and paving the way toward a brighter future for countless women to follow,” from their respective districts.

Support and mentorship are important to success in any business. However, without financial support businesses that are resilient and vibrant contributors to their communities cannot thrive. According to research by Access to Capital by High-Growth Women-Owned Businesses, women entrepreneurs start companies with 50% less capital than male entrepreneurs. Additionally, women who are in domestic violence situations stay in the relationship because they are financially able to exit.

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From the beginning, KABC 7 Eyewitness News Anchor Coleen Sullivan and Comedian/Author of Kosher Soul Cook Book Sunda Croonquist have supported the Shepherd’s Door Annual Women, Wealth, Warriors Entrepreneur Luncheon with their wit, humor and words of wisdom.  (Photo Courtesy: M.C. Harris)

“Financial abuse is rapidly growing within domestic violence, to address this issue Shepherd’s Door has partnered with Allstate Foundation to provide financial literacy to victims of domestic violence,” said Offray. “We continue to support and nourish the many talents and aspirations of our clients therefore, giving them the tools and knowledge needed to live their best life.”

Vendors: Denise Estelle for Estelle for Humanity; Aishia Deal for House of Nior; Kerri Zane, Author; Neferteri Plessy for Single Moms Planet; Dahari Kroneberg for Body & Brain Yoga; Pamela Jones Simson for Mary Kay; Everett Courtney Enterprises Women’s Lingerie; Akouavi Slater for Akouavi Fashions; Maisha Hart Women’s Clothing; Temne Hardaway for Mor Essentials; Sunda Croonquist for Kosher Soul Food Cook Book; Sachi Lee for Au Courant Jewelry Boutique; Barbara Mcalpine for Quilts & Things; and Gweneth Jackson for Simply Charming Vintage Jewelry.

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