Programs focus on women in business

Natalie Baumeister grew up in the business world. The junior finance major said she had worked for the owner of P.S. The Letter since she was young.

The owner of the store is Linda Motley, a TCU graduate and Baumeister’s mother.

“She bought the business when I was in first grade,” Baumeister said. “I’ve seen firsthand that it’s possible for a woman to own and operate a business.”

P.S. The Letter, located off of Camp Bowie Boulevard, specializes in china and crystal, invitations, fine gifts and stationery.

Motley, who earned her bachelor’s and MBA at TCU, said getting involved in the retail world happened as a bit of a fluke. She said she worked in the finance department for American Airlines before deciding to leave to spend more time with her family.

“I decided to stay home and raise my kids and about after three weeks, I knew that wasn’t going to work, either,” Motley said.

Motley said she always wanted to do something in the wedding industry, and when Baumeister’s father brought home a flier about a business for sale, Motley was interested.

“I researched it a little bit,” Motley said. “I had never worked any retail, but in about a month, I had a retail store.”

Motley said she does not see the gender divide as an issue in business.

“There are actually some advantages if you’re a female small business owner,” Motley said. “Some companies have to do business with so many minorities or they have an incentive to do business with minorities. Female-owned businesses are considered a minority.”

Women like Motley formed the basis for Fort Worth for Women (FOWO), a private business network advocating women in business.

According to FOWO’s website, women face gender-specific challenges in retail work. FOWO aimed to generate support for local businesses and to bring contributors together.

Within the Neeley School of Business, an initiative for women in business began with a new club last year. Senior marketing major Natalie Sears is the president of the Neeley Women’s Business Network at TCU.

“This year, we’re really trying to build it up and get the word out about it,” Sears said.
Sears said majors like accounting and finance tend to be heavily male-dominated, so the Neeley Women’s Business Network seeks to help women feel more comfortable working with men.

“Our organization is about learning how to work with men because you always have those gender differences,” Sears said. “They react to problems differently than women react.”

The network’s first meeting welcomed potential new members with Coke floats, popcorn and a brief presentation on upcoming events, including philanthropy work for victims of domestic violence.

“We’re going to do a handbag drive to raise money and give handbags to women who are victims of domestic violence,” Sears said. “They can go on job interviews and have a new handbag and all the different things they would need for the interview.”

The Neeley Women’s Business Network, which is open to any pre-business or business student regardless of gender, will also hold a fashion show. Sears said the fashion show would teach women how to dress in a professional, but still feminine way.

It is important for women hoping to start or own a business someday to take advantage of education, whether in school or in the field, Motley said.

“It was in my best interest to work in the corporate world first because you learn a lot,” Motley said. “Make the most of your education.”