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Celebrating Women-Owned Businesses in Hendricks County

Writer / Christy Heitger-Ewing
Photographer / Amy Payne

women businessMuch has happened through the last 50 years. According to the National Association of Women Business Owners, in 1972 there were 402,000 women-owned businesses in the U.S. Today that number has grown to a whopping 12.3 million. This means that 45% of U.S. businesses are owned by women. These are numbers worth celebrating, which is why we dedicate this month’s issue to women-owned businesses in and around Hendricks County. We recently talked with a number of Hendricks County women business owners to ask them about their accomplishments, collaborations, challenges and favorite memories, as well as advice they would share with others. We are grateful to have so many intelligent, talented, driven women at the helm of these businesses. 

Wendy Gehman, Mathnasium

Q: Share something you and/or your business team celebrated in the past year. 

A: Watching our students at first struggle but then succeed and grow is one of our greatest rewards as business owners. Many times our students enter with low confidence, but as they improve in their math abilities, we see their confidence begin to grow. When students light up and get that aha moment, it makes everything we do worthwhile. At Mathnasium we get to celebrate those moments on a regular basis, and the confidence they grow at Mathnasium will help them in all aspects of life.

We are also celebrating our newest center, recently opened in Avon. The new location on Dan Jones Road is conveniently located to serve Avon, Plainfield and Danville. We are excited to have the opportunity to share the Mathnasium program with more Hendricks County families by now offering two locations.

Marie Kirkeiner, Children’s Art Classes

Q: In your profession, what is something that excites you the most?

A: I get a great deal of fulfillment out of seeing young people discover their inner artist and develop their self-esteem. I love seeing that spark that comes from accomplishment. I have been teaching fine arts for more than 34 years, and whether it’s music, dance or visual art, the creative arts are engaging and leave students mentally and physically motivated to move forward in their lives. Color, tone and movement cannot be substituted by any other activity. With each creation or performance, the artist can stand back and be grateful for a sense of accomplishment and have the motivation to create the next project. 

Additionally, fine art doesn’t just benefit the creator. It benefits our communities. It’s meant to be shared and appreciated. Art brings people together. It’s a positive thing. We live in a time when young people are coming out of a COVID world and are under a lot of stress. They need the organic, hands-on arts more than ever to be healthy individuals. Knowing that I’m helping young people develop self-esteem by learning the craft of studio art or music excites me every day. It’s the heart of my business. 

women businessJennifer Wharton, Avon Mental Health 

Q: How has your industry evolved throughout the past decade or two?

A: Mental health had become stifled until recent years, but due to the pandemic, mental health took on a historical transformation. The barriers that once surrounded mental health are being dismantled at an accelerated rate. Stigma and misconceptions are now replaced with more understanding and acceptance. Whether in the workplace, school, church or the community, mental health has seen increased awareness through all sorts of digital and social media platforms. Even the government has prioritized mental health with expanded mental-health coverage and awareness campaigns. Through restructuring the way care is provided, we have witnessed how mental health, once hospital-based care, transformed into a community-based care system. Expanded services through online formats and community-based programs have improved access to care for anyone struggling with mental-health concerns.

Dr. Rachel Goad, All Star Dental

Q: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

A: In the first few months of dental school, we had a required ethics lecture to attend, and the best piece of advice I’ve ever been given came from that day. They said the difference between good and great usually isn’t very much. Honestly, I don’t think any description I can give will successfully detail how frequently these words cross my mind. While it is often tempting to stop at “good enough,” sometimes it is just an extra two minutes, or a little bit of hard work or ingenuity, that will result in great work, of which you can be very proud. Not only does it make you proud, but in many cases, that extra effort benefits those around you – in my case, my patients. As I work to polish a filling or to adjust a person’s bite, it is easy to say, “This is acceptable,” and so much more satisfying to give that little bit extra. This advice pushes me to be better every day, encourages me not to be stagnant in my learning, and has helped grow my empathy for those I meet.

Brynn Cochran, Shelter Insurance

Q: What has been the biggest hurdle or challenge you have faced in your career?

A: I’d have to say – myself. Whether it’s feeling inadequate or struggling with comparison, I am always trying to train myself to not allow such things to hold me back. I’ve come to realize that I am my own worst enemy. Realizing this years ago has allowed me to jump over some high hurdles and face challenges with grace and strength. 

Stephanie Yant, Cabin Coffee Co.

Q: What is the secret sauce that you use to work collaboratively and effectively with others?

A: The secret sauce is intentionality. As leaders, we may think to ourselves that an employee is not meeting our expectations and we are frustrated, but the employee is unaware. We all want to be liked and we don’t want to offend others, so it is easier to keep our frustrations to ourselves and not voice them. My mindset is that it is actually unfair to not tell them if I am unhappy with their work. It is selfishly easier to not address wrong behavior, but every person deserves the chance to know what they can do to be better and choose if they want to make the changes necessary. They also need to know what they are doing right, and for me that all takes intentionality. 

Dr. Vicki Crum, Community Chiropractic

Q: Tell me about the role that integration plays in your career.

A: For me, chiropractic has never just been about working on the back. There are plenty of other adjunctive modalities to help maintain a pain-free life, which is a focus in my practice. This is one big reason I added acupuncture to my practice years ago. More recently I’ve seen a need to go back to school and study functional medicine. Finding the root cause of symptoms integrates perfectly with both chiropractic and acupuncture. 

women businessDr. Shannon L. Austin, Au.D., SLA Audiology

Q: What’s your favorite thing about living and working in Hendricks County?

A: I’m originally from Sullivan, Indiana, but in 2002 my family and I made Brownsburg our home. In June of 2021, after an 18-year career in multiple areas of audiology, I opened SLA Audiology, an independently owned private practice and hearing health-care clinic in Brownsburg. 

Hearing loss can lead to frustration and isolation. Navigating the right options for treatment can be overwhelming and this can cause considerable delays in getting help. Because of that, professional and individualized hearing care have always been my passion in audiology. Establishing SLA Audiology’s reputation as a trusted resource to our patients and the community we share is my favorite thing about living and working in Hendricks County. Caring for the whole patient with the highest standard of care is SLA Audiology’s differentiator, and we enjoy changing the expectation of what hearing health care should be.

Debbie Moore, Diamond Collision Services Inc.

Q: Share some ways you give back to the community.

A: We love being able to give back to the community that has blessed our business over the past 24 years. We love sponsoring kid events like sport teams, Avon schools, and programs at our church, along with various projects put on by the Washington Township Avon Fire Department, Kiwanis and Rotary Club, to name a few. One of our favorites was fixing up a vehicle in partnership with Recycled Rides to give to Family Promise for a family in need. God’s been so good, and we feel privileged to be able to share that blessing with those around us.

Dr. Elizabeth Allspaw, Bright View Family Vision

Q: Name one of your best memories working in your profession.

A: One of my favorite memories was helping a traumatic brain injury patient. She had been suffering with severe light sensitivity, migraines, dizziness, double vision, and was unable to drive for approximately one year after being in a car accident. It was really limiting her everyday functioning, and she wouldn’t even really go outdoors because the sun bothered her too much. I researched how best to help her with special rose-tinted lenses and prisms in her glasses. She had the largest smile on her face when she picked up her new glasses. I saw her a couple weeks later, and she told me that she had been out shopping with her sister and was already starting to slowly reacclimate to driving. New specialty glasses were life-changing for her.

Jill Martin, F.C. Tucker Company 

Q: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

A: The best piece of advice I have ever been given is from a mentor that said, “Your name is all you have in this business. Make it a good one.” Every day I think about this and try to make the best choices to uphold my name, values and reputation.

Melissa Sheets, F.C. Tucker Company 

Q: How has your industry evolved throughout the past decade or two?

A: In the real-estate industry we have evolved over the last several years drastically in technology. It wasn’t that long ago we had listing books, driving keys around, handwritten contracts and minimal printed advertising. Today we are very fortunate to have access to most everything because of the internet at our fingertips. Mobile apps, digital signing, electronic lockboxes and social media marketing allow us to do things at a much faster pace than ever before. Time frames that used to be several days now have been shortened to just a few hours. 

Dr. Lisa Youngblood, AilmMD

Q: Achieving a good balance in one’s professional life and personal life can feel like a never-ending struggle. Do you have any advice for how best to hit that sweet spot?

A: Achieving a good work and personal-life balance is very difficult, but it is important to help maintain one’s own health. I incorporate lifestyle questions into all of my visits with patients at AilmMD in Brownsburg. This helps to get patients thinking about how to modify their daily routines in a positive way. Improved personal-life balance is achieved through measures such as healthy diet, daily exercise, alcohol reduction, improved sleep hygiene, and prioritizing family and friend time. In addition, allowing yourself some personal time is important to use however you want, such as gardening, crafting or meditating. For those who struggle with implementing these changes, there are lifestyle coaches and wellness coaches available in the community for a fee. For those who want to make changes on their own, here are some simple suggestions:

1) Eat two fruits and two vegetables daily.

2) Drink six to eight glasses of water daily.

3) Exercise for 20 to 30 minutes daily. Walking and housework do count.

4) Get seven to eight hours of sleep each night.

5) Don’t smoke or vape, and limit alcohol.

6) Spend time with friends and family, and schedule some alone time as well.

Work can be quite demanding, and it never hurts to keep an updated resume on file just in case a better job does come along. Set boundaries in the workplace and report any violations. Finally, remember that very few of us have a perfect work-life balance. What’s important is that you continue to strive to make it more balanced, which will be more beneficial in the end. If you are in need of a new primary-care doctor, consider joining AilmMD, where visits are relaxed, unrushed and unlimited. Contact us at 317-779-1466 to find out more.

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