When Rebecca Vassilakakis moved to the West Kootenay in October, she wanted to join a women’s networking group.
The problem was there weren’t any.
Arriving from the Okanagan, where Vassilakakis had no problem connecting with other women in business, she found it was more difficult in her new home of Castlegar.
She began working at Krueckl Financial Services in December, but was still having trouble meeting other business women.
So she decided there was nothing left to do but organize a group herself.
Approaching Pam McLeod, the executive director of the Castlegar and District Chamber of Commerce, Vassilakakis learned of other women in the area who were looking for the same thing.
Willow Enewold of Pinnacle Projects, Nancy Tropman of Centum Mortgage and property manager Barb MacKay teamed up with Vassilakakis and McLeod to launch the first West Kootenay Women in Business networking and luncheon event.
“There’s a very strong network across the province and across Canada for events like this,” McLeod said after emailing other chambers of commerce to get ideas.
“The group already had some specific ideas,” McLeod explained, including having a social networking component and an economic development component.
“To start we’re focusing more on the networking,” Vassilakakis said.
The main idea behind the group, she said, is women supporting women in business.
“But we are looking for people that want to be involved with business,” she added.
Women invited are those who work in business, own a business or want to start a business.
The first event is set to take place at the Fireside Inn in Castlegar on May 12. Lunch is $15 which includes tax and tip. There is no pre-registration required.
Moving forward, the group plans to hold the networking luncheons on the second Tuesday of the month from 11:30 a.m. until 1:30 p.m.
“If people want to take off or go back to work, that’s fine but we’ll have the facility,” Vassilakakis said.
The topics will change each month, she added. The first theme is the “elevator pitch,” which Vassilakakis said is a way of describing yourself and your business in one minute or less.
Though the first luncheon was only advertised by email circulation, it has generated quite a buzz in the community.
“From a chamber side of things, in the last few year it’s been hard to pull off events that are well attended,” McLeod said. “These types of events have faded in to the shadows, so to speak.”
McLeod said often timing is an issue as well as time of day, but many women have expressed interest in attending the luncheons.
“I think maybe women supporting women is less threatening [than other networking groups],” she said.
“We’re open to suggestions too,” Vassilakakis said. “This is a new group so we want to get the most people involved as we can.
“There’s a lot of potential for this to grow.”
For more information, email Vassilakakis at Rebecca@kfsinc.ca.