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Local women share ideas, wine

In Chamber-sponsored group, entrepreneurs meet every 2 weeks to share challenges, strategies

Posted: March 16, 2012 1:55 a.m.
Updated: March 16, 2012 1:55 a.m.

The Women’s Professional Network meets at boutique wine retailer Vino 100 in Valencia on Tuesday.

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Eight women gathered Tuesday night at a local business for the Women’s Professional Network group, the second of two such groups for women entrepreneurs sponsored by the Santa Clarita Valley Chamber of Commerce.

Started as forums for businesswomen in which peer mentoring can take place, the groups meet every two weeks to discuss challenges and share information about companies they own or represent. While similar to the Business Leaders group, in which business owners share strategies, the women’s groups focus on networking opportunities, as well.

One of the two forums recently chose Vino 100, an artisan, boutique wine retailer in Valencia, as the site for its meetings, supporting a local business owned by two women.

“The goal of meeting at Vino 100 is to get us out of our businesses, out of the house and out of the chamber office to build relationships that can change our business,” said Stephanie Graziano, owner of EmbroidMe and chairperson of the group, jokingly dubbing the group “women on wine.”

Vino 100 co-owner Lil Lepore shared that the retailer is coming up on its sixth anniversary this coming August and that the most valuable commodity the retailer has is “customer service.”

“It’s all about customer service,” Lepore said. “If you don’t have good customer service, you have nothing. It doesn’t matter what you’re selling. It’s about making relationships”

Janet Kachorsky, co-owner of Southwest Eco-Lawns of Santa Clarita, an artificial-grass sales and installation company, also felt finding the right product was important.

“I called every single manufacturer in the United States and asked for samples,” Kachorsky said. “I got 100 of them, all made in the U.S., before making a decision.”

There was also discussion about the uniqueness of doing business in the SCV region. The geographic isolation forces many small-business owners to build support for their companies primarily from within the local community.

“You have to take a freeway to get in and out of the SCV, and that impacts your business a lot,” Graziano said.

But Graziano also noted how much pride the community takes in providing services to the local community and nonprofits. To do business in this community, a business has to network and have a high level of involvement with the local nonprofits, because it’s more like doing business with friends and family, she said.

“We take care of ourselves out here; you don’t find that to this degree in other communities, Graziano said.”



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