#GirlBoss

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LA CROSSE, Wis. (WEAU) -- About one in three businesses in Wisconsin is owned by a woman, and that number is growing.

Now, the hashtag "#GirlBoss" is used on social media to describe a woman who takes charge of her own business.

There’s no typical day at work for Kelly Castady, founder and co-owner of Willow Boutique in downtown La Crosse.

“There's always emails to check, invoices to pay,” she said.

She and a business partner from Los Angeles opened the clothing store last November.

“We sat down and we wrote a business plan,” Castady said. “It was months and months of research and feasibility studies and sourcing the lines we were going to carry, and talking to the product reps and looking for the location.”

Things are a little more predictable, but just as busy a few blocks over at Addiecakes, a gourmet cupcake shop.

Owner Addie Tourville gets in to work before most people get out of bed in order to make hundreds of cupcakes each day.

“It's always busy and there's always something going on,” she said.

Tourville started her business about a year ago, at the age of 22.

“And as soon as I made the decision I quit all my other jobs and started moving forward with opening a storefront,” she said.

Both Castady and Tourville are part of a growing trend of female business owners in Wisconsin.

From 2007 to 2016, the number of women-owned firms in the state grew by nearly 27 percent, according to the Wisconsin Women’s Council.

In 2016, 31% of all Wisconsin businesses were owned by women – about 142,000.

They have an annual economic impact of $27 billion, and state officials expect that number to keep growing.

It’s a trend that makes sense to Chynna Haas, an entrepreneurship coach in La Crosse and founder of 29Rebel.

“I've seen a lot of women actually thrive in entrepreneurship who really struggled more so than in the corporate world,” Haas said.

She says entrepreneurship can help some women leave behind sexism they may have experienced in the workforce.

“The way corporations are now is we're in kind of these like 'cubicle farms' and people are living very uninspired lives and then when they step into entrepreneurship people who never really thought they were creative are like, ‘wow I'm a really creative person, I'm out there, I built a brand, and I'm making the product or doing a service that their business is actually about,’” explained Haas.

But female entrepreneurs can face some challenges that their male counterparts might not.

For Castady, it’s finding a guilt-free balance between work and family.

“Making sure that as a mom I'm giving my kids everything they need, as a wife I'm giving my husband everything he needs, and as a person I'm giving myself everything that I need while also maintaining a business,” she said.

For Tourville, it’s her age.

“There's a lot of instances where I will be somewhere with my staff who is all older than me and someone will think that whoever else is Addie and I'm not Addie,” she said.

But they both agree that those challenges are worth it.

“It's very constant, but my kids are a constant reminder of why I did this,” Castady said.

“I think that it doesn't matter if you're male or female,” Tourville said. “If you've got a solid business plan and a support system behind you, that it doesn't matter, you can be successful.”



 
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