League of Ladies

Contact: Ashley Jennings, 775-230-3355 (mobile) or


WHO: Girlmade

WHAT: Girlmade’s “League of Ladies” event is an inaugural networking party for high school, college and rad women. Nearly 90 people have reserved tickets for this free (and sold out) event. Gift bags will be given to the first 40 attendees, and raffle tickets will be sold for $1. Gift bag items and raffle prizes have been donated by female-led businesses, such as certificates to BootRoxx in Reno and a snowboard from Coalition Snow, a sporting goods company based in Truckee, Calif. Free desserts and beverages will be served.

WHERE: The Reno Collective, 100 N. Arlington Ave #100, Reno, NV 89501. Metered parking can be found around the building and is free after 6:30 p.m. Free non-metered parking is available in the Imperial Lounge parking Lot on the corner of 2nd Street and Arlington Avenue.

WHEN: Thursday, April 17, 2014, from 6-8 p.m.

WHY:  Networking has become a dirty word. It’s not about selling yourself to another person. It’s about connecting and finding common ground. This event strives to gather high school, college and business women in the same room and encourage them to utilize the three keys to networking: Know your value, give without expectation and follow up. Every girl needs her own league of ladies.

- Ashley Jennings, founder of Girlmade
- Alex Ellison, founder of Dunce College Planning
- League of Ladies attendees (Kerrie Garcia of Microsoft, Elisa Cafferata, Leilani Schweitzer of Stanford, Sharon Spangler, Jennifer Gurecki of Coalition Snow, Krystal Tingle of Abbi Agency, and more)

Girlmade helps female entrepreneurs launch their businesses. For more information, visit


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These BootRoxx are Made for Walking

These BootRoxx are Made for Walking

Posted By on Apr 15, 2014

Then and now: Blinged-out BootRoxx evolved from its hand-painted prototype. (Photo by Christine Seiber)

Then and now: Blinged-out BootRoxx evolved from its hand-painted prototype. (Photo by Christine Seiber)

These BootRoxx are Made for Walking
(Or running a business, errands, etc.)

Like most startups finding their footing in Reno, Annette Markin and Heather Sallan took their fashion accessory business one step at a time.

They now take those steps around Reno in BootRoxx, a cover they created to infuse new life to a favorite, classic, worn-in pair of cowboy boots. After scrapping a separate shoe idea because of production hangups in 2012, the women behind Taylor Rose Designs are now primed to trot out a BootRoxx marketing campaign.

Longtime best friends and business partners, Markin and Sallan attended a fashion expo in Las Vegas to research shoe accessories. After admiring the exquisitely hand-tooled cowboy boots on display but cringing at their $300-$600 price tags, the idea for developing an item to jazz up an existing pair of shoes came as fast as you can say “upcycling.”

“We both looked at each other –” Sallan began.

“It was literally that fast,” Markin finished.

“We both looked at each other –” Sallan began.

“It was literally that fast,” Markin finished.

BootRoxx evolved since its 2012 inception from a hand-painted Union Jack to sparkly, look-at-me rhinestone designs, more affectionately called “bling” by Markin and Sallan. The product doesn’t offer bling-less options — its point is to let women step out and make a style statement. The product slips off whenever a tamer look is needed.

“I love that I can just have a black pair of boots and then I can put any kind of look I want,” Sallan said. “Then I can go back to my basic boots.”

So far, covers come in black, chocolate brown and indigo. Markin and Sallan are currently developing covers for equestrian boots.

Steppin’ out
At the Dallas expo, Markin and Sallan’s main challenge was grabbing buyers’ attention in a room packed with fashion designers. Their product got passing glances and compliments, but customers only took notice when the duo said they were boot covers, not blinged-out shoes.

“People commented on the quality big time — about how well we’ve done with the way that they look,” Sallan said.

Markin and Sallan left Dallas with orders from two boutiques and sparked interest from a major department store as well as a national Western wear retailer.

From left, Heather Sallan and Annette Markin relax at BootRoxx headquarters in Reno. (Photo by Christine Seiber)

From left, Heather Sallan and Annette Markin relax at BootRoxx headquarters in Reno. (Photo by Christine Seiber)

Back in Reno, the women use their feet to do the talking when advertising around town. They laugh as they recalled being mobbed in Starbucks by women admiring their boot-bling. BootRoxx will also be sold at the Reno Rodeo and at the Night in the Country music festival.

The product could someday carry the University of Nevada, Reno, logo. Markin and Sallan recently cleared the first hurdle for collegiate licensing rights, and BootRoxx has garnered interest from UNR as well as the University of Montana.

Markin and Sallan were one of two teams with a physical product rather than a tech or science business focus in Girlmade’s fall startup accelerator program. But the takeaway is universal across all industries.

“Girlmade really forced us to do our research,” Markin said. “In a pitch, you gotta have your facts straight … Especially if you’re asking for money.”

Having a community of female entrepreneurs to seek advice from was a plus, Sallan added.

“We all believe that we’re all going to make it,” she said.

Christine Seiber is a grad student at the University of Nevada, Reno. She can be reached at and on Twitter @seibersays.
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League of Ladies Lookbook

League of Ladies Lookbook

Posted By on Apr 1, 2014

League of Ladies Lookbook

Our April 17 League of Ladies networking extravaganza is *que marching band and dancing elephants*… sold out! Thank you so much for making us even more pumped for this inaugural (yep, we said “inaugural” — because we’re that good) event.

Let’s get down to business before we party. There’s only one important question. It’s a question we will  face at some point, so might as well address it now …

What should you wear to it?

Honestly, we don’t care as long as you’re accessorizing with a smile. But if you need a style tip, The Girlmade team will rock these blazers and T-shirts (except Jonas, because we couldn’t find the pink one he wanted in a 39 regular):

Cute, right?

Cute, right?

Blazers are cardigans’ polished older sister. She has a firmer handshake and drinks pinot noir. You can wear a blazer with a T-shirt for casual weekends or pair it with a button-down oxford or lightweight blouse for work. Either way, you’re going to look like you put some effort into your appearance (even if the reality is you slept in and ate a sad, cold, stale bagel during your commute).

Look 1: I Woke Up Like This

I Woke Up Like ThisBlazer, shirt, shoes, earrings

This outfit may seem basic, but think of it as a clean slate that can be jazzed up with accessories, like these sweet Nevada earrings from Etsy, bright shoes or a bold printed scarf. Of course, the oxfords can be swapped out for heels, depending on your comfort level.

Look 2: Change of A-dress

Change of A-dressBlazer, dress, shoes, bag

This dress is a literal translation of the 2014 Pantone Color of the Year, Radiant Orchid. The blazer makes for a great cover-up for the spring, because the wind in Nevada is no joke. Let’s not forget the importance of a well-made structured work bag — think of all the business cards you’re going to get during League of Ladies, you networker you.

We’re (half) kidding about the only important thing being what you wear, although it does help. What really counts is what you have to say and how you say it. See you on April 17.

Christine Seiber is a grad student at the University of Nevada, Reno. She can be reached at and on Twitter @seibersays.
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Home on the World Wide Range

Home on the World Wide Range

Posted By on Mar 25, 2014

Jean Harrison-kid

Jean Harrison, age 13, poses with Patches at her first livestock show at the San Mateo County Fair in California. (Courtesy of Jean Harrison)

Home on the World Wide Range
Maker Musings: Jean Harrison

Jean Harrison is the founder of, a web-based goat herd management system that connects farmers across the country. No ‘kid’ding.

You can’t manage what you don’t measure.

That’s the phrase Jean Harrison uses to sign her emails.

She took her first foray into management at 13, when a friend convinced her to join 4-H, a youth program tied to the U.S. Department of Agriculture that fosters livestock interests, among other topics. Harrison wanted to raise a llama, but when discouraged by the lofty cost to purchase and raise the then-exotic animal, she settled for a secondhand goat.

“I think in my 13-year-old brain, a goat was as close to a llama as I could get,” she said.

She rescued Ivy Leaf from a farm where the animal had been reduced to being a guinea pig for local boys’ roping techniques. Ivy Leaf descended from a line of successful show animals, but the misshapen brown-and-black dairy goat placed second at a livestock show where she had no competition.

“She needed a friend,” Harrison said.

In turn, Ivy Leaf became Harrison’s closest companion when the teen moved from Pacifica, Calif., to northern California before starting high school. Raising Ivy Leaf became as normal as homework. Harrison even wrote about the easy keeper—a farm term used to describe a low-maintenance animal—for a school writing assignment. (The paper’s topic? Write about your best friend.)

Farming 2.0
Harrison is an easy keeper. More gaga-for-goats than girly-girl, she described her outfit—blue jeans, tan knit shirt and brown clogs—as dressed up as she gets.

Jean Harrison

Jean Harrison works at the Reno Collective. (Photo by Christine Seiber)

Lunch was a microwave meal from Trader Joe’s—the result of a 70-hour workweek filled with meetings and plugging away at her desk at the Reno Collective.

“Part of being an easy keeper is you don’t need a lot of food,” Harrison said, laughing.

Her husband, Dave Benjamin, describes Harrison with another word—tenacious. Her dairy goat herd prospered through the 1980s and early 90s. After a decade of working as a software project engineer for various startups, Harrison carved a career out of a hobby by launching in 2009 without seeking investor funding.

Noting the lack of management software for goat farmers, Harrison market-tested her idea with contacts forged at livestock shows as to what the web-based service needed to include. EasyKeeper allows goat farmers to maintain health, breeding and birth records and track the animal’s dairy, meat or fiber production. The service, which rolled out a paid subscription package in October 2012, also allows customers to add data to the site for other farmers to use.

Jan Fleming, a 23-year veteran goat farmer in Franklin, Pa., heard about EasyKeeper through friends in California. She offered to beta test the website in 2012.

“It’s just wonderful to have somebody that knows what producers want and need,” Fleming said. “It’s a much better program than keeping index cards or notebooks or sticky notes.”

Harrison wants to expand EasyKeeper to all livestock—potentially tapping into Nevada’s booming cattle market—but she urges entrepreneurs to delve into market research. She cited goat farming’s shift from dairy to meat production.

“What I didn’t do is look at what the industry is doing,” she said. “I missed a huge opportunity because I started out creating a program for dairy goats. I stayed in my safe zone.”

“What I didn’t do is look at what the industry is doing,” she said. “I missed a huge opportunity because I started out creating a program for dairy goats. I stayed in my safe zone.”

New ‘kid’ on the block
When Dave Benjamin shared a kindergarten kiss with Harrison in Pacifica, Calif., he had no idea he would eventually reconnect with and marry the girl with the goats . The pair relocated their online businesses—Benjamin’s site manufactures and distributes sailboat sails—to Reno from the Bay Area in 2013.

“We jokingly refer to the companies as ‘Boats and Goats,’” said Benjamin, who also handles business development for EasyKeeper.

The decision to move to Reno was sealed after attending the city’s 1 Million Cups event, where local entrepreneurs present their startups to their peers, advisors and potential stakeholders. At that particular session, Harrison heard the pitch for GirlMade (ahem, us).

“I’m like, ‘This is where I want to be because here is a community that’s really encouraging female entrepreneurs,’” she said.

“I’m like, ‘This is where I want to be because here is a community that’s really encouraging female entrepreneurs,’” she said.

Harrison and Benjamin live in what Harrison calls a “transitional home,” as the couple settles into Reno. For now, the only goats in her life are the ones on the calendar hanging next to her desk and the stuffed animal her sister gave her when Harrison had a daughter in 1985. As she delves into a marketing campaign for EasyKeeper, there’s no time for a sprawling homestead with grazing goats.

“I know me well enough to know that I would go hog-wild,” Harrison said. “… I don’t want to have any distractions—as much as I would love to be able to sit and have baby goats jump on me, because it’s so good for the soul.”

Christine Seiber is a grad student at the University of Nevada, Reno. She can be reached at and on Twitter @seibersays.
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Founder: Jennifer Gurecki

Founder: Jennifer Gurecki

Posted By on Mar 19, 2014

Founder Profile: Jen Gurecki

Jen Gurecki spoke to Girlmade about juggling two jobs, snowboarding in and around Truckee, Calif., and unwinding after a 12-hour workday. (Hint: It involves pasta.)

WHO: Gurecki heads Coalition Snow and The Zawadisha Fund. Coalition Snow produces skis and snowboards designed for women by women. Zawadisha is a non-profit organization that offers loans, preventative health care and education opportunities to women in Kenya as a means to help them out of poverty.

So, basically… Jen Gurecki is a total badass. Here’s what she had to say…

Jennifer Gurecki

Jennifer Gurecki founder of Coalition Snow and Zawadisha riding a rail

On being an entrepreneur

“It takes all your time. You have to be willing to live with uncertainty,” Gurecki said. “If you’re the type of person who needs security and needs that paycheck, you should not be an entrepreneur. You need to be flexible, you need to solve problems, you need to solve problems every day.”

Recommend a book. Or two.

The Four Hour Workweek by Timothy Ferriss: “It brings it down to just be smarter about what you do,” Gurecki said, who doesn’t make herself feel guilty by making the decision to take a day off. She tends to work more during the non-winter months and dedicates cold weather to snowboarding.

Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg: “When I read this, I thought, ‘I’m fired up. I’m fired up,’” Gurecki said.

On teamwork

“The faces we have on ( are the faces of the women we work with,” Gurecki said. Think about how you can highlight the people who are making what you do successful — and then it’s not about you, it’s about this collective group of people who are all coming together.”


Name someone you admire.

Eve Ensler (best known for The Vagina Monologues).

“She’s one of those women who’s basically said to the entire world, ‘I don’t care what you think. We’re going to change this,’” Gurecki said. “She goes out on a limb for women all over the world.”

How do you unwind?

“I will spend hours cooking. I can work a 12-hour day, and I’ll be like, ‘Homemade pasta night!’ I love going shopping for food, I like figuring out a recipe … I’ll watch ‘Chopped’ as I’m cooking.”

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Affordable Everyday Jewelry on Etsy

Affordable Everyday Jewelry on Etsy

Posted By on Mar 12, 2014

Screen Shot 2014-03-12 at 3.05.05 PM


Working  at a startup doesn’t mean that you have to wear a flannel and Adidas track shoes. It also doesn’t mean that you have to wear a pencil skirt. You can wear whatever you want. I like to wear jewelry that is subtle and elegant to set off my casual wardrobe of skinny jeans and loafers. I am also currently boostrapping and fundraising, so I rarely splurge on clothes these days. When I do, I like to buy things that match with most of my wardrobe and that are functional. Lo came up with a perfect list of the most affordable everyday jewelry options. Check ‘em out. And guess what? You also get to support maker goodness. Huzzah! If you have any others you think that Lo missed, please hollah at us in the comments.

“This by no means an end-all list, but since I’ve been spending a lot of time browsing Etsy lately, I figured I’d put together a little list of some of my favorite cheap everyday jewelry shops.  Can you tell I’m into geometric stuff?” -Lo

AAANOUK for natural gem pendants. // ADAMRABBIT for ombre necklaces and raw stone earrings. // AMERRYMISHAP for clean, modern geo stuff. // BOUTIQUEMINIMALISTE for cute studs and statement bracelets. // BYSIUKWAN for sweet tiny shapes. // CUTIECOTTAGE for dipped color-block earrings. // CYCLICALIND for bold lines and a little neon. // ELEPHANTINE for understated feminine pieces. // GRAMERCYEIGHT for textured stones with a cool vibe. // JEWELOFAGIRL for simple, chic everyday. // LEPUN for fresh colors on geo pieces. // PARAGRAPHLOOP for painted wooden jewelry. // PETITOR for minimalist delicate pretties. // SHOPASTA for vintage and upcycled goodness. // VIRGINIAWYNNE for sleek simple metals. // VOZCOLLECTIVE for vibrant wooden charm.

Note: This post can originally be found on Lauren’s site Lo Concepts 

Lo AKA Lauren. She spends her time 9-to-5 as an Associate Producer at a post-production house, and write, produce, and occasionally production design independent projects by night and weekend. She has a BA in Screenwriting from Chapman University, and still cover and develop scripts. Lo grew up mostly in the Bay Area, and now live in a 60s-era apartment in a pocket of West Hollywood most accurately and affectionately described as “elderly Russian.” She’s a dog person.
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Has it Really Gotten Better for Women?

Has it Really Gotten Better for Women?

Posted By on Feb 26, 2014

This sketch is fantastic in that it gives a quick overview of the topics that Alicia covers in her book: A Rising Tide: Financing Strategies for Women-Owned Firms

Women-owned firms represent an increasingly important segment of the small business sector. According to the most recent data from the U.S. Census Bureau, there were 7.8 million women-owned firms in the United States in 2007, generating $1.2 trillion in revenues and providing employment for 7.6 million people. A Rising Tide presents the financial strategies that have helped today’s bold and creative women entrepreneurs to succeed.

In spite of the seemingly positive statistics, things are not really any better for women owned firms these days. What does that mean exactly? Well, it means that we still have work to do, ladies! Let’s find ways to change this. One of the simplest ways it create more female funders.

Take Action: Do this!

Create more female funders.

Women tend to have a harder time receiving funding for their ventures from angels and VC’s. In large part this is due to the fact that women are not networked with the “good ole’ boys.” So, it is our job to get more networked and to create more female investors. The Pipeline Fellowship and the wonderful ladies at Golden Seeds are leading the charge!

Check out their investor bootcamps for women who have the funds, but don’t feel like they understand investing enough to make the leap.

Alicia is a Senior Researcher at the Kaufmann Foundation. An entrepreneur herself, Robb founded the Foundation for Sustainable Development in 1995, an international grassroots organization dedicated to supporting sustainable community development initiatives in Latin America, Africa, and India, with 11 offices worldwide. She is currently an Angel Investor with the Unreasonable Institute and enjoys advising and consulting with social entrepreneurs.
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You Can’t Be What You Can’t See

You Can’t Be What You Can’t See

Posted By on Feb 10, 2014

Screen Shot 2014-02-10 at 11.49.06 AM

Monday, Sheryl Sandberg’s non-profit Lean and Getty Images are announcing a partnership that will provide a collection of stock photos that represent women and families in more empowering ways.

“When we see images of women and girls and men, they often fall into the stereotypes that we’re trying to overcome, and you can’t be what you can’t see,’ Ms. Sandberg said in an interview.”

That unrealistically high level of attractiveness has become the standard for beauty and we see it everywhere. In magazines, on billboards, T.V. ads, and reality shows. It’s influence is pervasive, and has gone so far as to seep into the collective consciousness of American society. We don’t even need to talk about it for it to be true. It is like the ever-present layer of fog (the one that has it’s own Twitter account) hovering over the S.F. Bay. It doesn’t go away if we ignore it. It only changes if we change our view. Maybe we move to Santa Fe, or So Cal; somewhere else–anywhere else.

Screen Shot 2014-02-13 at 1.15.06 PM

The same argument can be made for the stereotypical stock photos to shed light not on the attractiveness of women, but on their role and value in society. Most of the photos are very stereotypical,–1980′s and 1990′s roles. You know the ones. The woman in the gray power suit with the the mousy brown, one-length haircut, black pumps (not too high, but not too low either). Or how about the picture of the mom in her kitchen juggling five tasks, making lunches while slathering butter on the toaster waffles? The pictures of the men are just as average. Men wearing khakis with deck shoes and a hint of gray hair, walking along the beach with his wife (who is also dressed like she just stepped out of an Eddie Bauer catalogue) and two teenagers. A picture being worth a thousand words, we all know what that picture says. It says that the couple is white, still married, upper middle class, and that their teenagers are happily enjoying a family vacation, because the mom stayed at home with them and they were in the best schools. We know that this is not how most people are living, but we continue to use those photos, for others to aspire to such standards.

Screen Shot 2014-02-13 at 1.15.40 PM

So how do we avoid just paying lip service to diversity? We parade it around like a badge of pride. The woman in the military returning home to her family, the lesbian couple running an organic farm that serves the families in town by providing their food and teaching the kids to farm, the woman teaching her son to sew, and the man teaching his daughter to hack on Arduino (micro-controllers).

We are grateful for Lean In’s courage and Getty’s willingness to change the status quo, to reflect what is really going on, and to give girls the chance to “see what they can be.” We can only be what we can see is possible. Amen, sisters!

Special thanks to the New York Times article: and Getty Aim to Change Women’s Portrayal in Stock Photos

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