Speakers share messages of inspiration at Women Business Owners of North Florida’s G.R.I.T conference.
By Caren Burmeister
With the backdrop of an image of Rosie the Riveter, business owner Pixie Larizza recognized women for keeping the country going while men went off to fight in WWII.
But the women’s movement actually started decades earlier, in 1848.
“One hundred and seventy years later, we’re still demanding and fighting for equal rights,” Larizza, the founder of Pixie Glass and Pixie Wearables, said at Thursday’s G.R.I.T conference sponsored by Women Business Owners of North Florida.
G.R.I.T. stands for growth, resilience, integrity and tenacity.
“We are making strides. Let’s keep it moving forward,” Larizza said.
WBO honored Larizza with the Distinguished Member Award and recognized Pat Blanchard, former director of the Jacksonville Women’s Business Center, with the True Grit Award.
WBO promotes women business owners and their success and encourages them to grow through networking, education and support.
About 150 WBO members and guests attended the conference at the University of North Florida Adam W. Herbert University Center.
The event took place on International Women’s Day, a day designed to celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievement of women.
The WBO event began with a four-member panel discussion.
Panelist Suzi Lemen, CEO of Dynamic Corporate Solutions Inc., a human resources consulting and recruitment firm, stressed that it’s important to hire a diverse group of employees.
She praised millennials who gave her good advice at a time when the company was going through a slow period.
“That has made a difference in my company,” Lemen said. “Your (own) ideas aren’t always the best ideas.
Panelist Kelly Straub, senior vice president of global accounts at sgsco, a design, packaging and marketing solutions company, cautioned business owners about getting too hung up on perfecting their products and services.
“Perfection is the enemy of good,” Straub said.
Keynote speaker Amy Pope-Wells told members that hard work is expected, but it’s not enough.
“There is no giant leap to success,” said Pope-Wells, president of Tire Diva and BACE Consulting and owner of LINK Staffing.
Business success usually builds over time with toughness and tenacity, she said.
Pope-Wells made her presentation despite facing flu-like symptoms that she said should have kept her in bed.
She gulped down medicine, showered and dressed, got her kids off to school and headed to the engagement.
Pope-Wells said her weak legs burned and shook as she worked the stage. But she put on a brave face and stayed until the end.
She thanked her husband for supporting her as she faced adversity.
“You dig deep and you deliver,” she said.