Date ArticleType
8/8/2019 General
Eastern Iowa Women Collaborate to Bring Women's Conference

Women’s business conferences are big business across the country with ticket prices at hundreds or
even thousands of dollars to see top rated keynote speakers and get inspiration from some of the nation’s leading business gurus. They are worth every penny, according to attendees, but one Eastern Iowa woman saw a need that wasn’t being met by these larger than life experiences.

In recent years, Iowa has gone from the bottom of the list to one the top 10 states with women business owners. Iowa women are innovative, creative, and smart and while running a business is challenging, Iowa women are up for it. With so many Iowans getting a start on their entrepreneurial dreams in recent years, affording those big-ticket conferences isn’t in the start-up budget.

Local business owner and volunteer mentor for SCORE East Central Iowa, Kendra Aarhus, has been attending and speaking at women’s conferences for the past four years. “It’s an incredible experience to go to one of these events and give back and tap into a community of like-minded entrepreneurs. The experience breaths energy and focus into your business and gives you a sense of belonging.”

That sense of belonging and community was missing among local business owners, Aarhus discovered. “During my networking and while mentoring new business owners, I noticed they all have one thing in common. They feel alone in the struggle of business ownership ,and can’t afford the big conference ticket.”

Not one to sit on the sidelines and watch people struggle, Aarhus collaborated with other local leaders and started her own conference for women in business. It started small with an event they called Authentically You on a horrible blizzardy morning in March of 2018 with over 30 women in attendance.

“We started the conference to help women learn about networking and marketing themselves in our local community. What we ended up with was a local community of women that needed each other and what happened next was astounding.”

Aarhus says the connection between these women has grown over the past two years, and with three You Conference events under their belt, the next conference being held on October 9th and 10th called Courageously You is projected to have 150 attendees.

“The growth of the conference is further proof that this type of event is needed in our community,” Aarhus says.

Attendee Crystal Hird has been raving about her conference experience, “I gained a sense of community. Seeing women gathered together to support each other in all avenues was powerful and inspiring.”

Attendees are women (and a few courageous men) that are business owners, work with entrepreneurs, or aspire to be business owners in the future. With that said, Aarhus has expanded the reach of You Conferences this year to appeal to women everywhere, from stay-at-home moms to corporate employees that could use a community to help balance it all. “It’s become apparent that we are all working hard to make life work, and we could all use the benefits of stronger relationships,” Aarhus says.

The You Conferences not only gives a space for women in business to connect and grow together, but it also gives emerging leaders in the community a place to share their knowledge and expertise. You Conferences brings in local leadership advice from people right here in the Corridor as the speakers for the workshops.

“It started because I didn’t have the budget for a big-name speaker, but I’ve learned that we have some absolutely incredible leaders in Cedar Rapids and they need the platform to share their stories and lessons as much as we all need to hear them.” Aarhus said.

Speakers include Meegan Hoffmeister (the Dostal House), Leah Recor (the Abundant Parent), Rina Jensen (Resilency Coach), Alyx Coble-Fanks (The Agenda.), Erin Soukup (Erin Soukup Photography), Jess Denton (the Nest & Monroe + Co), Courtney Meisner (House of Hope), Jess High (Empowerment Coach), and will be emceed hosted by Riley Mullane of Premium DJ. Other speakers will be announced in the coming weeks.

In addition to the empowering speakers and workshops that will inspire, attendees leave with a headshot, an art project, and a tribe of other women that have their back. Coffee, lunch, and snacks are included in the ticket price. You Conferences is partnered with SCORE East Central Iowa and sponsored by Allegra Printing.

You can get more information and register for Courageously You by visiting Tickets are $109 through the end of August, and gradually increase as the event nears.