On May 10th, I attended a networking event for event-related professionals. The evening was sponsored by the Women’s Business Development Center. The WBDC, as mentioned on their website, “has helped prospective and established women business owners achieve economic independence through entrepreneurship. From workshops and seminars to business coaching and financial assistance, we’re here to guide you to business and economic success.”
The event was hosted at Vosges Haut-Chocolat and its owner and founder Katrina Markoff treated us to amazing chocolates and wine. Not being a wine drinker, I definitely enjoyed the chocolates more. We experienced a new truffle and wine pairing each time a guest speaker was finished presenting.
Katrina Markoff was the first speaker and shared her story of the creation of Vosges. Her story was very inspiring. She basically took an idea and turned it into a $4.5 million in annual sales business. Unbelievable! After she spoke, we had an ‘ambrosia’ truffle, macadamia nuts, cointreau, and white chocolate. Couldn’t even tell you the name of the wine. Though I remember it being white.
The next speaker was Diane Joy Hennington, president of Grand Events. After working in the corporate world for 12 years, Diane left to start her own event planning business. She left a very comfortable job to pursue her dream, not knowing if she would find success. However, through her hard work she has created a profitable business.
After Diane spoke, we were given a ‘naga’ truffle, sweet indian curry powder, coconut, and milk chocolate. The combination sounds quite bizarre, but tasted incredible. It was paired with yet another white wine. My second glass of wine in about 15 minutes, my sorry self needed to slow down.
The next speaker was Dot Ward, photographer and president of Dot Ward, Inc. She shared with us the struggles she experienced in the beginning years of her business. She spoke of being a single parent and bringing her two small children on assignments with her. They became her assistants. She went from photographing family and friends with a polaroid to photographing celebrities, being employed by large corporations and getting paid the big bucks for the “Money Shot”. Her story made me realize that there are no excuses. If you really want it, no matter what it is, all you have to do is go out and get it. It won’t be easy, but it is possible.
After Dot was done, we had ‘Mo’s Dark Bacon Candy Bar’. Yep, chocolate and bacon. If someone would have told me I would be willing to try such a concoction and on top of it, actually like it, I would have said, “You’re crazy!” However, it’s true and now I will probably find myself back at Vosges (951 W. Armitage) purchasing a bacon bar. I only took a sip of the red wine that accompanied the chocolate. I wanted to make sure I got home safely.
The last speaker was Jayme Joyce, cinematographer and co-founder of Joone Studios. As mentioned on her website, Jayme states, “I am a storyteller and filmmaker with a passion for being a part of exceptional productions as well as developing the independent film community in Chicago.” She shared her experience of starting a business and the difficulty you may face in the first few years of start-up. When asked to give the group one piece of advice, she stated that you need to persevere, even if things may look bleak. The success of her business shows that there is truth to that statement.
As the evening came to an end, I was highly motivated by these women and their stories of success. It made me think about what steps I will need to take to achieve my goals. I realize it won’t be an easy road, but I am ready for the bumps and potholes that might come my way.
Overall, the people and chocolate were amazing and I made it home safe and sound.