The three women come from different backgrounds and have followed different career paths but they have one thing in common: they want to create better conditions for women who run businesses and live on Bowen Island. Carmen Dives, Tina Overbury and Angelyn Toth shared their views about Bowen Women in Business, an initiative that began in the spring of 2012.
"We started with a group of 25 people," Dives said, explaining that the group has been meeting on the last Wednesday of every month for networking, coffee, treats and a presentation. "The number of women who attend varies," Dives said. "But the group has been growing steadily and includes women in many different professions." Their fields range from cosmetics, website design, writing, social media, network marketing, health products, animal care, real estate and art, according to Dives, who is a realtor. "The women on Bowen Island have so much to offer but often they haven't had a lot of support," she said, adding that "the island is so vibrant but the economy needs a boost."
Tina Overbury's background is in the network marketing industry where she is a vice president and business owner with Arbonne International. She is also a filmmaker and writer/director with five short films under her belt. "I have always been a networker and a team builder," Overbury said. "I've created and been a part of numerous women's support groups." Overbury explains that she has a passion for community and learning and lives by the idea that group knowledge is always bigger and brighter than that of the individual. Overbury is relatively new to Bowen (she's been here three years) and wanted to be more involved in the business community as well as make like-minded friends who could support one another. "I'd like to be exposed to new ways of doing, thinking and generating business ideas," she says about her hopes for the group. "I live for my next aha moment. My wish for this group is that we can see ourselves as business owners who grow as individuals and businesses way beyond the construct of 'living on an island.' We may live on an island, but we needn't feel like we are one."
Angelyn Toth owns the Xenia Retreat Centre on Bowen Island and has made the facility available as a meeting place for Bowen Women in Business. "I also have a thriving home-based business," Toth said. "I was introduced to this group by a friend who thought I would enjoy connecting to other women entrepreneurs on Bowen." Toth found the meetings very helpful. "To my surprise, I gained a lot of insight and many ideas from this group of very inspiring women," she said. "Feeling the camaraderie and sharing authentically with each other provides vast support and a skill base that we can apply to our own businesses. Even though some of the women are in what would be considered competitive companies, I do not feel the competition only support and caring." Toth believes that the meetings are a way for women who would otherwise be working at home alone to receive feedback and ideas for their work. "The encouragement and the network of people this opens up is powerful," she said.
Dives said that she is looking for community partners, for example the Bowen Island Chamber of Commerce, and will consider joint meetings in an effort to bring in high-profile speakers. The next meeting of Bowen Women in Business will be on Wednesday, September 26, from 9 to 11 a.m. at Xenia Retreat Centre. There is a $10 charge toward covering the cost for the speakers and to provide coffee and treats. Dives wants to extend the invitation not only to women who run their own businesses but also to those who are looking for opportunities: "They can come out and join us to get ideas or be motivated and inspired." She added that the group offers a sense of belonging and a lot of shared enthusiasm. "Between all of us, there is a lot of business expertise and our motto is to help each other grow," she said.