Little Rock-based law firm Wright Lindsey Jennings (WLJ) has partnered with a number of organizations in Northwest Arkansas to form a group called Woman-Run, a statewide initiative with a goal of supporting woman-run businesses and women inventors.
The program is the idea of Meredith Lowry, a patent attorney who practices in WLJ’s Northwest Arkansas office in Rogers.
“We have represented and supported a number of woman-run businesses and female inventors over the years to help those businesses and inventors prosper,” Lowry said. “Unfortunately, these entrepreneurs still comprise only a small percentage — less than 10% for each — of businesses and inventors nationally and in the state of Arkansas. We want to further contribute to this community to help facilitate connections and opportunities.”
Lowry has been a passionate advocate about mentoring other women in business and was chairwoman of the Women in Tech and MedTech events that supplemented the Northwest Arkansas Technology Summit in Rogers this past October.
She is also an occasional contributor to the Northwest Arkansas Business Journal. She said a commentary she wrote in the fall for the magazine entitled “Parity or a disparity: Assessing women in tech” accelerated her effort to form a group that supports women business owners and inventors.
“The response I got from that [column] was overwhelming,” she said. “It’s been a problem I thought needed to be addressed. The more I thought about it, the more I thought, ‘Why aren’t we [the law firm] doing this?’ And their [the law firm] response to me was, ‘Why aren’t you doing this?’ The firm has been very supportive.”
WLJ and its affiliates — the Greater Bentonville Area Chamber of Commerce, the University of Arkansas Small Business Technology Development Center and Arvest Bank — plan to host events that promote networking, mentorship and peer-to-peer learning among woman-run businesses and female inventors.
The Conductor, a public-private partnership with the University of Central Arkansas in Conway and Fayetteville consulting firm Startup Junkie, are also Woman-Run affiliates, Lowry said.
The group’s first meeting is Feb. 28 at the WLJ offices in Rogers and features Helen Lampkin, founder, and Ashley Pointer, CEO, of Bentonville-based My Brother’s Salsa. After sharing what she called “my brother’s salsa” with family and friends for a number of years, Lampkin launched My Brother’s Salsa in 2003. The first jar hit store shelves in 2004, and today, the family-owned and -operated company produces 10 varieties of all-natural salsas.
My Brother’s Salsa is available in about 2,000 Walmart stores across the country and about 1,000 other grocery stores and outlets.
More events across the state are planned in the coming months. Lowry said the goal will be to meet every other month.
She said a Facebook page has been set up for the group. Anyone interested can search “Woman-Run” for more information.