Chamber of Commerce supports women in business

The Winkler & District Chamber of Commerce will be hosting their annual Women in Business event on September 13 at Winkler Library. NATEE MEEPIAN / Natee Meepian -

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The Winkler & District Chamber of Commerce is once again providing women a chance to network and gain inspiration at their Women in Business event.

Winkler Chamber executive director Tanya Chateauneuf said the event has evolved in her time at the Chamber. “It used to take place quarterly in the year for about an hour before the workday, and I found it was quite rushed and I felt like there were opportunities for us to have more of a connection in our time together,” she said. “What we’ve done is evolved it to an annual event that really gives the opportunity for women to connect and hopefully get some inspiration.”

Chateauneuf said the event provides important learning opportunities for women. “There is opportunity to make great friends and connections in our community,” she said. “Whether it be other entrepreneurs or women who work in our community, that’s really important.”

Chateauneuf noted the event lets women have a fun time while also having a productive morning.

Feedback has been positive from past events. “The women are excited to have an opportunity to connect with women they’ve never met before or women in the same field,” Chateauneuf said. “What I really like is that this event grows in the type of people that come out. This is drawing out new members for sure.”

Chateauneuf said now is the time to be a woman in business. “There are so many great supports out there, for women and in general” she said. “Entrepreneurs are really supported and there are really great resources to help people starting up.”

Resources like local Chambers can help businesses grow, Chateauneuf said. “[Chambers] provide learning opportunities so you can stay on top of all the things that are going on in the business community that affect businesspeople.”

The event runs in conjunction with Community Futures Heartland, an economic renewal initiative that helps those starting new businesses and supports communities and their local economies.

Penny Schoonbaert, Community Economic Development Coordinator at Community Futures Heartland, said creating a list of potential speakers for this year’s event was an easy task.

“Opening a business or running a business as a woman by yourself is hard enough to do anywhere,” Schoonbaert said. “I think it’s really important for women in smaller communities to see that they too can be huge successes. It’s reinforcement that yes, you can. With hard work and perseverance we can.”

This year’s speakers will be Chelsea Lewis, Kennedy Guy and Rhonda Lodwick.

Lewis is the owner and operator of The Cellar Door, a hair and spa boutique in Portage la Prairie. She will be speaking about conflict in the workplace and striking a work/life balance.

“I go there, I use their services, [the staff] are so happy,” Schoonbaert said. “They are one big happy team. Not only does [Lewis] operate this business, she also runs the household and family. There’s that seven day a week business and seven day a week family, how do you balance that?”

Guy runs Kenny’s K9, a dog grooming business that she opened in MacGregor when she was 21 years old. Very soon her business was so busy she opened a second location in Portage and now has 5 staff working for her, and her business has expanded to kenneling and day care services and is looking into training dogs to be therapy animals. In her spare time, Guy takes her own dog to the personal care home in MacGregor to visit residents.

Guy will be talking about multitasking and having fun in the workplace. “She has so much fun, but she also gets so much done,” Schoonbaert said. “The other thing she’s speaking on is supporting other businesses and how important that is in rural communities.”

Lodwick owns and runs Century 21 Foxx Realty and has opened an ice cream store called What’s the Scoop? in Portage la Prairie. She will be speaking about being a good leader and inspiring employees to reach their potential.

“She is [a good leader] not only in her businesses but as a community member as well,” Schoonbaert said. “To see the way she has climbed the ladder, and she’s married with two kids, it’s incredible. She encourages and really inspires her employees.”

The event runs 9 a.m. to noon on September 13 at Winkler Library. To register, call (204) 325-9758 or email