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Caroline J. Fox (from left), Ciera Pope, Bethany Silva, Christine Haines Greenberg and Shannon Siriano Greenwood are members of Boss Babes, an online women’s entrepreneurial community that has grown to more than 2,500 members.

Starting a business is terrifying for just about anyone.

The startup market is predominantly male, leaving women business owners making up roughly 30 percent of the workforce.

But women in Richmond are defying the numbers and have created a network to empower and collaborate with one another.

Founded by Christine Haines Greenberg in 2014, Boss Babes was her way of identifying a community of entrepreneurial businesswomen as a resource for herself and others.

“I had no idea what I was doing when I opened my second business,” said Haines Greenberg, owner of Urban Set Bride and Wood Grain and Lace Events. “I opened it with my mom who also didn’t know what she was doing. I was excited to just dive in and figure it out, but I wanted to find a collective of other (business) women” — a collective of other women who wanted to know about health care options for self-employment, how to save in a 401(k) without a business providing it, and how to balance work and family.

Haines Greenberg created her own network of about 15 women who would meet regularly at women-owned businesses.

In 2016, Shannon Siriano Greenwood joined the group and helped expand the Boss Babes collective.

The Facebook group now has more than 2,500 members. Women from all over the Richmond region are posting on the Boss Babes page seeking advice, wanting to hire and scheduling online discussions or meetings. Within minutes, they have responses from other businesswomen.

Real post examples: “Hi Boss Babes! Do you know anyone that provides consultation regarding blog/website monetization?” “Any nonprofit Babes out there??” “Hello wonderful #bossbabes! Who works in PR? Looking to hire someone to write a press release.”

These women-owned businesses will often post information about collaborative business projects and events of interest to or involving Boss Babe members.

The 2017 Rebelle Con Convention, Nov. 9-11, is an example. Focused on lifestyle design for entrepreneurial women, this event is “a collective of local entrepreneurs coming together to contribute their skillsets and passions.”

“We want women to walk away with an action plan to create real change in their own communities for themselves and others.”

Convention speakers include Jessamyn Stanley of Every Body Yoga and Claire Wasserman of Ladies Get Paid.

Members are not required to be business owners to be Boss Babes.

The group is open to any woman in the business world looking for support and collaboration. The group requires that members identify as a woman, live in the Richmond area and must provide a statement on what defines them as a businesswoman.

“The Boss Babe mindset — taking control of your own destiny and creating your own success — is not necessarily reserved for people who own their own thing,” Haines Greenberg said.

The group meets at least once a month to network and share experiences. Siriano Greenwood, Boss Babes president and owner of Lemon Umbrella, hopes nonentrepreneurial women will take some of the Boss Babes values back to their workplaces.

“Entrepreneurship is not for everyone, but that doesn’t mean the entrepreneurial spirit shouldn’t live in both places,” Siriano Greenwood said. “The stuff that is important to us here is just as important for people who are working for big companies.”

Ciera Pope, a member of the Boss Babes community, said the group inspired her to quit her job and start her own business, Champagne and Cabanas Travel, a travel agency that began in August specializing in Caribbean destinations.

Pope said Boss Babes has given her the tools and resources she needs to tackle problems as a new business as well as providing a community to mentor her along the way.

“What I had been missing when I opened my first business were role models. The really successful women business owners in Richmond just kind of have their heads down,” Greenwood said. “They’re not out there the same way a lot of successful male business owners are.”

To learn more about Boss Babes and to join the conversation, visit www.bossbabesrva.com.

For more information about Rebelle Con, visit www.rebellecon.com.

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