Big Sandy Women’s Business Symposium Celebrates ‘Women Holding Women’


PAINTSVILLE, Ky. (WYMT) – The Big Sandy Women’s Business Symposium kicked off Tuesday, celebrating women entrepreneurs in the region.

East Kentucky Small Business Development Center director Michelle Spriggs said the annual event, which has just completed its 22nd year, aims to bring businesswomen together under one roof – to break glass ceilings together.

“Going back hundreds of years ago, you know, there wasn’t a lot that women could do. Now we have women doing everything in the business world, ”Spriggs said. “It’s so wonderful to have all these women in one room who are so successful and who are so brilliant.”

The symposium, sponsored by Kentucky’s Appalachian Regional Healthcare and Women’s Business Center, included keynote speakers Jessica Lawrence, director of Cairn Guidance, and Jessi Robinson, founder and CEO of P&P Creative. Participants were invited to look at other projects and businesses in the region and discuss the models and missions that shaped them.

“It’s just inspiring to see other women who are a bit in the trenches with you and persevering, despite COVID,” Robinson said.

The women spoke to other small business owners and business leaders about being a woman in the business world, sharing their stories and networking.

“You really can’t run a business or start something without building relationships. And women who support women, that’s all I am, ”Lawrence said.

She shared the story of her solo cycling trip across the United States and how that experience helped shape her vision for leadership in business.

“How to create a marriage between your personal goals and your professional goals? And how sometimes a life experience like that, or a really big goal like that, can really keep you going and doing something amazing in business, ”she said.

According to those involved, the annual event is about support that only comes from people who understand where you are and how you got there.

“I love that it gives women all over Eastern Kentucky a chance to come together and network, to talk business, to learn new things,” said Robinson.

Robinson hosts a podcast called “Pursuing Fearless,” dedicated to sharing stories of regional women who are struggling to move forward and forge their own path. So she said events like this made her feel right at home.

“I work with so many amazing women, both as clients and as part of my team, it’s just another day at the office for me,” she said with a laugh.

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