Anne Mitchell, a 4th generation El Paso, Texan, launched a private label line of salsas representing El Paso that later blossomed into a retail souvenir store. During the pandemic, companies were looking for ways to better connect with their employees and customers. Leading Anne to launch Gifting with Sol. Shipping a “whole lotta party” to front doors across the nation.

Since expanding her services, Anne and her team found a need to merge their business processes in order to make room to better serve their customers. It was then that she applied and won a 2021 Lillie Knox Investment Award. Read more below about how receiving this award streamlined their company.

1.      What did winning the 2021 Lillie Knox Award mean for you and your business?

Winning the Lillie Knox award was a huge boost to my business processes.  As an entrepreneur that sells products, it is hard for me to justify spending on improvement of processes. I prefer to spend money on buying inventory which will generate more income.  With the grant money, I was able to get help migrating all of my systems under one platform, which has made us more efficient, saved time and ultimately money.

2.      What did you use the Lillie Knox money for and how did it help grow your business? 

I was able to get my CRM, inventory, social media, emails, invoices and emails all under one platform. Zoho One.  This has saved my team and me a lot of time and has streamlined my business.  I used two companies to achieve this and am happy to report that one of them is a fellow WBE, Suchi Gupta of Pure Design Solutions. 

3.      What was your current involvement with WBCS?

I was certified in November 2019.  Fortunately, I was able to take the WeTHRIVE class during the pandemic and learned how to better use my certification and met fellow WBEs.  I attended WBCS Connections to Contracts and many WBCS events through Zoom.  Since pandemic restrictions have been lifted, I have attended a few in person WBCS events and the National Convention in Atlanta.  Zoom has been a blessing for me since I am located 600 miles from the WBSC headquarters, but I look forward to continuing to participate via Zoom and in person, when I am able.

4.      What is your favorite WBCS event and why?

Most of my events have been virtual, so this is a hard one to answer.  I thrive on in person contact, so my favorite event was the Connections to Contracts that was in-person in April.  I enjoyed meeting the WBCS team in person and making corporate connections.

5.      What is the best reason for a women-owned business to get her WBE certification?

Most people think certification is all about landing the Big Whale of a contract.  I have found the level of training has been invaluable to me, as the owner and to my business. For example, the Capital One SAGE class through WBCS, helped me in a few areas of my business.  We made a business plan and were exposed to high level trainers who, as a small business, I never would have made the time or been able to afford.  They introduced me to Alison Maslan and I am now working with her ScaleIt Method to scale my business.

Secondly, the networking and support from fellow WBEs and the team at WBCS has been invaluable to me.  Being an entrepreneur can be lonely at times and a bit frustrating.  It’s been so comforting to meet other entrepreneurs and connect with women who understand the trials and successes of having your own business.  The WBCS staff has been wonderful in their support and patience, as well. 

Lastly, because of all of this training and networking, I am in a better position to land the Big Whale!  J

6.      What is one thing you wish you knew about WBE certification before you did it?

I wish I had known that WBCS provides excellent training, both at my expense and sponsored by corporations.  As an entrepreneur, it has been so valuable to take the time to work ON my business, instead of IN my business.

I also have recently found out that WBCS is one of the, if not THE, strongest RPO in the country and that WBCS is older than WBENC.  

7.      How has WBE certification helped your business?

Getting women-owned certification has empowered me to think much bigger about my business.  With the support and connections, the sky is the limit!