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COVID-19 was a setback for working women. These first-time entrepreneurs prevailed

Samantha Masunaga, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Business News

"A lot of people through this time have had some hard and harsh realities to deal with and sit with, and I think that entrepreneurship makes an incredible amount of sense for a lot of people," she said.

New female entrepreneurs have gravitated toward coaching, virtual assistant and e-commerce businesses, particularly as remote work and virtual conferencing software became the norm, according to founders of women's business groups on social media.

The pandemic's emphasis on virtual connections helped Jessica Bruny and her mindfulness coaching business, JessBeU, reach people when and where they were. The Upland resident had the idea for her business for several years but chose to finally start it in June 2020.

"This virtual presence has also opened a plethora of doors for people to connect with people around the world but also see how they can be able to share ideas, start businesses, meet new friends, begin new relationships," she said. "It's like no other."

Alexa Stanfill graduated from law school in December, into a job market with few opportunities for entry-level lawyers.

She needed a job, and she had long thought about starting her own business, particularly in the horse industry. As an equestrian herself, she knew horse-riding pants could be expensive and uncomfortable.

 

In January, Stanfill, her mother, Shelby, and friend Kara started Esprit Equestrian Wear, a Murrieta-based e-commerce company that started off selling low-cost horse-riding pants ($60 per pair, as opposed to the traditional cost of $150 to $200 on the low end).

Stanfill set up a website and negotiated with manufacturers, and within six months, the company had sold almost 4,000 pairs of pants. Her merchandise has since expanded to include belts, sun shirts and jewelry.

Though it was scary to start a business during the pandemic, Stanfill said the flexibility of running her own company quickly paid dividends. She can choose when she works and does not envy the long hours and rigid work schedules of lawyers. She looks forward to planning longer-term travel.

"Starting this e-commerce business will give me more freedom to do that than be attached to a desk," Stanfill said.

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