ICYMI— Celebrating Waco Women: A Power-Hour Panel on Female Entrepreneurs

Posted On: October 23, 2019
Bank & Brews Panelists

By: Carina Yebra 

October is National Women’s Small Business Month commemorating the signing of the Women’s Business Ownership Act of 1988. It included several changes that have significantly changed the landscape of business owners in the United States over the last 31 years. Those changes even included eliminating laws that required women to have a male cosigner to be approved for a business loan. The result? There are now around 12 million women-owned businesses in the United States. Extraco Banks’ SVP of Mission & Marketing Strategy, Libby Cain, sat down with three of those women for our October 22nd Bank & Brews workshop.


Panelists Abby Rhodes Head, Jenn Giles-Kemper and Kristl Evans are from different backgrounds and own very different businesses, but their stories overlap in many ways. Here are three takeaways from their conversation on being a woman in business:

You have to get comfortable with being uncomfortable.

  1. Abby Rhodes-Head is the owner of Cheddar Box, a grilled-cheese food truck at the Magnolia Silos, as well as Franklin Avenue Mac House, a gourmet mac and cheese restaurant. Before she was in the cheese business, Abby was a speech therapist for ten years. For her, taking the leap from a secure full-time job as a therapist to purchasing a food truck was definitely uncomfortable. Once she made the jump to full-time business owner, she faced different challenges like learning how to manage and trust her staff. Abby told our attendees that while she can self-identify with the idea that women are more emotional than men in business, that is exactly what makes her a great entrepreneur and boss. For her, getting comfortable with her passion and emotion has led to great decision-making and success.
  2. While women in business have made great strides toward equality, there is still work to be done. Kristl Evans has been a business owner for most of her adult life. Before her latest venture, Southern Roots Brewing Company here in downtown Waco, Kristl owned automotive repair shops as well as a home inspection company with her husband, Keith. For Kristl, owning businesses in male-dominated industries came with some harsh wake-up calls. At her auto shop, it was common for men to think she was the front-desk employee. She told us about a time when giving a male customer advice on his car problems, he refused her suggestions and asked to speak with the male technician. That male technician was actually a brand new employee with little experience. While she can laugh at the story now, Kristl was angry and made it a priority to hire women technicians at her shops. Being intentional about hiring and providing opportunities for women is just one way that Kristl works to break stereotypes and support fellow women in business.
  3. You can find a balance between your personal life and running your business.
    For Jenn Giles-Kemper, balance is necessary. Jenn is the owner of Sacred Ordinary Days, a company that produces liturgical-focused day planners and gifts. Jenn is also the mother of three little boys, all under the age of four. All of our panelists agreed that, while balance is subjective and often elusive, it can be found for female business owners and mothers. For Jenn, working with her husband and recently hiring on full-time employees for Sacred Ordinary Days was the support she needed. 

All three of our panelists spoke about the pressures of being the boss as well as the fear of asking for help. According to Kristl, overcoming that fear, as well as the anxiety of losing control, is necessary for balance. While raising her five children, who now own or operate two of her businesses, she had a key realization— she had to be able to run her business without being in her business. It was impossible to achieve the balance she sought while continuing to be in the day-to-day operations. For Kristl, that realization was the turning point. She came to terms with relinquishing some control, but in return was able to spend more time with her children and even take a vacation for the first time in years.

Thank you to the panelists for sharing their stories, lessons and successes as entrepreneurs.

Information about Bank & Brews

In partnership with Start Up Waco, Bank & Brews is designed for anybody who wants to learn more about starting or growing a business! These monthly events are free and hosted at Hustle Co-working space. Visit Extraco’s Facebook page to learn more about upcoming Bank & Brews!

About Extraco Banks®
Extraco Banks and its affiliate companies are dedicated to building people, businesses and communities. Since the Great Recession, Extraco has extended over $2.5 billion in loans to 25,000 customers, while financially supporting over 1,275 community organizations working to create economic vibrancy, job growth and overall quality of life to our communities across central Texas. Founded as a cotton warehousing company, Extraco, at $1.5 billion in assets, is the largest and most comprehensive locally owned bank between Dallas and Austin, serving over 120,000 customers’ banking, mortgage, insurance and wealth & trust needs with creative and innovative excellence. 

Learn more at: https://www.extracobanks.com/.