Women across the state got down to business in a virtual conference called Women Entrepreneurs Mean Business on July 17.

This is an annual conference usually in April and in person. This is the first year the conference moved to online, and it won’t be its last, said Kristin Morehead, an organizer from Arrowhead Center at New Mexico State University.

“We got a larger reach across the state than we normally would have,” she said.

Morehead also received positive feedback from new participants and prior participants saying they liked being able to connect with people locally and across the state.

The WE Mean Business conference utilized the Whova app, Zoom and a website.

The app showed a list of all the attendees, where they were from and some information about them. There were about 190 attendees, according to the Whova app.

“While the conference presentations were all useful, what inspired me the most was the app associated with the virtual conference,” said Rio Rancho business owner Chamisa Radford. “I was able to discover other attendees from Rio Rancho, make connections and interact virtually. I also discovered other business owners with similar fishing, hunting and camping interests.”

Radford is the owner of Composite Supplies LLC, a Native American-owned business doing business as 1 Shot Boondocks.

Composite Supplies sells narrow-and wide-woven fabrics, resins, and gel coats, and has expanded to offer ballistic-rated materials in addition to carbon fiber and fiberglass fabrics, she said.

“While conducting research and development on our ballistic offerings and in preparation for government contracting, our needs for testing equipment went unmet,” she said.

Through this unmet need, she was able to manufacture firearms and contribute to sales at 1 Shot Boondocks. Prior to the global pandemic, Radford was preparing to open a brick-and-mortar store in Rio Rancho, she said.

“Due to COVID-19, our grand opening was delayed and we find ourselves needing to pivot our business. Things have changed quickly, and we are seeking as many virtual resources as possible to make it through these difficult times,” she said.

At the beginning of the conference, a link was sent out directing attendees to a webpage where keynote speakers and panels were featured. They called this the main stage.

The conference featured a panel of “solopreneurs” which Radford said she gained much from. This panel contains women entrepreneurs who began their business alone.

On the panel were:

• Debra Hicks, Pettigrew & Associates P.A.;

• Brittney Ingram, Studio One Six;

• Krista Martinez, Krista M Consulting; and

• Jennifer Cervantes, New York Times best-selling author.

“Specifically, the solopreneurship session reminded me that I am not alone in this and that it is important to fortify our support systems,” Radford said. “All these strong women are finding their way through this difficult time as well, and this inspires me to apply this ‘solopreneurial strength’ to my business.”

After the panel, participants were directed to the consulting corner. People would join smaller zoom meetings where they could hear from an expert about:

• Business accounting,

• Business funding,

• Legal questions,

• Expert entrepreneur,

• Social media marketing, and

• Business regulation.

Radford said she learned how to find funding for her business from these sessions.

“With a true entrepreneurial spirit, we are turning change into opportunity,” Radford said.

She is adding firearm training to 1 Shot Boondocks.

“The purpose of this addition is not to offer certified firearm training or concealed-carry training,” she said. “The purpose is to provide a place where a woman can go to be coached on how to handle a firearm in a comfortable environment by another woman.”

For more information, search 1 Shot Boondocks on Facebook.

Shelly Gruenig is the founder of the nonprofit Be Greater Than Average and has been the coach of the R4Robotics team since 2005.

“Running a nonprofit, I try to use the best business principal that I can, and as a woman in a STEM-owned business, we are great,” Gruenig said. “About 70 percent of our staff are women, and it’s really important to not only help grow the business, but to also help in the development of other young women.”

Gruenig said she has utilized Arrowhead Center before to help market her podcast STEM Southwest — to listen, search stemsw.com.

Micaela Brown is a social-media marketing specialist and makeup producer, hosted a Zoom workshop at the conference called “Make a Splash.”

“She is a powerhouse of understanding the statistics and how to best use and engage and market that has been really useful to me,” Gruenig said.

The conference ended with remarks from keynote speaker Rachel Olney, Geosite founder and CEO.

She said having a good business and personal support system that shares the same vision is vital.

“I think that a lot of people tend to conflate the idea of being humble with the idea of ambition,” Olney said. “And I want to start with dispelling that because I think it’s really important to feel very comfortable with what you want to do.”

She said to never be ashamed of your ambition.

On the fourth Thursday of every month, Arrowhead hosts a coffee meet-up available to attend virtually, Morehead said. For more information, connect with the WE Mean Business-Women Entrepreneurs Network on Facebook.