• October 18, 2017 9:03 AM | Laura Waniuk

    Rhonda Swenson, founder of women’s clothing company Krimson Klover, shared an honest insight into her background as a business owner and entrepreneur at Vail Valley Business Women’s October event. Hosted at The Ritz Carlton, Bachelor Gulch, the evening included a buffet dinner in the intimate Club Lounge.

    Swenson was a young flight attendant seeking adventure when she met a fellow traveler who owned a boutique sweater company. Swenson soon was designing sweaters and shortly thereafter purchased the same company. Four companies and 30 years later, Swenson has stayed true to her beliefs of sustainability, creativity and adventure.

    Krimson Klover is more than a clothing line for Swenson. It’s also an outlet to empowering women and giving back. It’s estimated that the company donates 10 to 15 percent of retail sales to a different charity each month. The Krimson Klover line is described as Slow Fashion, “a movement of designing, creating and buying garments that stand the test of time.” Sustainability and fair-trade are crucial to the brand, and the company is committed to manufacturing clothing without threatening natural resources or damaging the social and ecological environment.

    Swenson also pointed out that Krimson Klover makes a point of supporting small, boutique factories.

    “The smaller factories we work with are run by families and are women-owned businesses,” said Swenson. “Krimson Klover is a woman-owned company, and we believe in supporting and encouraging women-owned businesses”

    During the month of October, Krimson Klover is offering a twenty percent discount to all VVBW members. Please use the code KKVail20 to save at

  • September 20, 2017 9:06 AM | Laura Waniuk

    Vail Valley Business Women celebrated 40 years of serving the community at its annual Membership Open House event on Wednesday, September 13 at Larkspur in Vail. Founded in 1977, VVBW promotes the advancement and future growth of professional women in the Vail Valley.  The annual event gives local business-minded women the chance to learn about the benefits VVBW members receive, including numerous marketing and networking opportunities.

    “We provide women in the Vail Valley an outlet to network with each other and exchange ideas in a fun atmosphere,” said VVBW President Lori Gleason. “Each meeting has a great cross section of ladies, and it’s always exciting to meet new colleagues which often develop into friendships.”

    VVBW hosts monthly meetings, held at valley wide locations on the second Wednesday of every month. Meetings generally provide members with a sit-down dinner or buffet and a guest speaker who provides a presentation on a business related topic.  For example, one month features a speaker on social media, while the next month is a Speed Networking event.

    Additionally, members receive marketing benefits like running ads in VVBW’s monthly newsletter, or the opportunity to be a Spotlight Speaker at a monthly meeting.  Benefits vary according to each level; Associate, Executive or Corporate.

    The Open House included a trivia contest where participants visited different informational stations and guessed the price of different items in 1977, like a bikini or a tank of gas. All participants were entered in a raffle drawing, one of three prize drawings that evening, for prizes like Underground Sound Concert Series Passes at the Vilar Performing Arts Center or a certificate to Root & Flower.  

    As an added benefit, attendees could sit for a professional headshot photo session with Olga Barron Photography. Barron is a Vail-area portrait and wedding photographer who is also a VVBW member.

    “Professional headshots are so important in this day and age,” said VVBW Programming Director Tricia Swenson. “There are now so many business-oriented social networking sites, like LinkedIn where your photo should make the best impression.”

    For more information on membership benefits, or to register, please visit VVBW’s Membership tiers page.

    Take a stab at the special trivia questions from the Open House!  Answers are listed below.

    1. What was the cost of gas in 1977?  
    2. What was the cost of a bikini in 1977?  
    3. Who was the president in term in 1977?  
    4. Which Vail Resort ski mountain broke ground in 1977?

    1. $.65
    2. $9.00
    3. Gerald R. Ford
    4. Beaver Creek Resort

  • August 16, 2017 9:08 AM | Laura Waniuk

    VVBW’s August event, FemALE: Women + Brews, gave attendees the chance to soak up some sun while enjoying craft beers at Crazy Mountain Brewing in Edwards. FemALE included a tour of Crazy Mountain’s taproom and brewing facility and an interview with Co-founder Marisa Selvy.

    Selvy explained how Crazy Mountain follows the attitude of the “laid-back, fun mountain lifestyle,” as described on its website, all while producing a successful craft beer that is currently distributed in 22 states and nine countries. Common Colorado style dictates it isn’t a party without a few dogs, and visitors are greeted by at least one friendly dog upon entering the taproom.

    Selvy also shared her experiences as a female brewer in a field generally dominated by men.  “The common image of a brewer is a guy with a beard and flannel,” said Selvy.  “I’ve had people ask me if I work pouring beer in the taproom, and I’m like, I own this.”

    Bold attitude aside, Selvy and the Crazy Mountain team have a strong commitment to community involvement. It’s not uncommon to see the Crazy Mountain logo displayed at local events and fundraisers. Product and time is donated to local non-profit organizations around Colorado, including environmental protection, youth outreach, cancer prevention and international fundraising efforts.

    The evening also included a visit from the Ekahi Grill food truck. Based out of Gypsum, Ekahi features Hawaiian-themed foods, like fresh tuna poke and Kalua pork.

    You can find more information on Crazy Mountain Brewing Company here, or check out Ekahi Grill on Facebook by clicking here.

  • July 19, 2017 9:09 AM | Laura Waniuk

    ttendees of VVBW’s July at El Sabor in Vail were treated to basil watermelon margaritas, a Mexican-style dinner buffet, and a fulfilling presentation given by Amy Arthur Packer. Arthur Packer is a certified executive coach and a consultant specializing in team and leadership development with over 15 years’ experience working with individuals, teams, and organizations.

    Using Crayons and self-reflection, attendees were encouraged to draw their “Inner Critics.” An inner critic is the harsh, rude voice telling you that you aren’t qualified enough, or good enough to do something. It can be the irrational, but persistent voice that holds you back from accomplishing a goal.

    VVBW July 2017

    Arthur Packer then asked the women to visualize their “Inner Mentors,” the voice that encourages your ideas, goals and passions. This exercise involved meditation and imagining a conversation with your future self. Where do you hope to be in 10, 20 or 30 years?

    VVBW July 2017

    Key points to Arthur Packers’ talk are to determine traits that define you at your best, being aware of your main strengths, and exploring and applying your strengths.  Your traits may be leadership, love, creativity, humor or appreciation.

    VVBW July 2017

    The presentation wrapped up with a few suggested resources, including apps that are beneficial in meditation, like Headspace or Calm. Both work for iPhone and Android.

    • VIA Character Strengths:
    • “Strengthsfinder 2.0” by Tom Rath
    • “Strengths Based Leadership” by Rath & Conchie
    • “Profit from the Positive” by Greenberg & Maymin
    • “Play Bigger” by Mohr
    • “Co-Active Coaching” by Whitworth, Kimsey, Sandahl

    Arthur Packer is offering VVBW members “Chat with Amy,” a complimentary strategy session and self-care bonus gift. Register for your session at You will also be subscribed to a monthly newsletter (You can subscribe at any time and your info will never be shared).

  • June 21, 2017 9:12 AM | Laura Waniuk

    After networking on White Bison’s sunny, creekside patio, attendees of VVBW’s June event learned tools and techniques for dealing with risk.  Individuals either talk themselves out of exploring new ideas because of the risks that can go wrong, while others jump right into opportunities without preparing for what may go wrong. Presenter Barb Waters shared simple steps to analyze risks objectively and to make sound decisions for personal and business success.

    The first step to effectively analyze risk is to identify any potential risks, or “what ifs.” By using a brainstorming or a “what-if analysis” technique, you can ask yourself what might happen to disrupt your business (or your personal goal). Examine different scenarios that may occur, like a recession, personal illness or property damage.

    Now that potential risks are identified, it’s time to compare and rank those risks.  Breaking down possible risk sources helps to reveal why certain risks may occur, establish the likelihood of each risk happening, and the cost or impact if the risks arise.  Rank each risk using this criteria; the likelihood of it happening, and the possible impact if it does happen (see charts in blue).  For example, consider property damage, such as a fire. A fire is unlikely in a business office, as compared to a bakery, but would be high impact due to loss of computer and office equipment.

    VVBW June Event Recap    VVBW June Event Recap

    The final step is to plan risk responses. There are four responses to consider.

    • Avoid the risk by ensuring it doesn’t happen.
    • Mitigate the risk by reducing the probability or impact.
    • Transfer the risk by ensuring a third party assumes some risk.
    • Or you can accept it might happen and do nothing.

    Categorize risks to be prepared take appropriate and efficient action. Businesses commonly develop plans to respond to threats, but this can also be done on a personal level. For example, having funds in savings in case of a job loss or serious illness. Businesses also create risk register documents, which act as a permanent record of concerns. Risk registers can be used as a checklist to review risks on a regular basis, such as annually. This helps you keep track of changing risks, risk threat levels and ways to adjust your risk responses accordingly.

    According to Waters, the more research an individual does on a potential project or business undertaking, the better prepared she can be to address risk and enjoy an improved relationship with risk!

  • May 24, 2017 9:14 AM | Laura Waniuk

    Thanks to the generosity of members and friends, we were able to raise $5,000 for the Vail Valley Business Women Scholarship. The VVBW Scholarship is given to young women graduating from Eagle County High Schools who intend to study business at a two or four year college. These young women have displayed leadership and achievement in their high school years, are deserving because of a financial need, or overcame challenging life obstacles.

    Five individual $1,000 scholarships were awarded by VVBW Member-at-Large Karen Perez on May 4 at the YouthPower365’s Dollar for Scholars Program ceremony. The students attended Battle Mountain High School and Eagle Valley High School. Congratulations to the recipients!

    • Karsang Sherpa, EVHS
    • Avery Maslan, BMHS
    • Alondra Perez, EVHS
    • Meredith Padilla, EVHS
    • Chapin Benway, BMHS

  • May 17, 2017 9:18 AM | Laura Waniuk

    Hosted at Avon Auto & Truck, VVBW’s May event covered essential car care topics, including regular maintenance and recognizing problems before it’s too late. Igor, a mechanic from Avon Auto did a thorough, and sometimes humorous, presentation to the group. Attendees asked questions along the way, while Igor covered oil changes, brake care, tire rotations and other car care topics.

    Starting with the brake system, Igor explained how certain noises or car reactions can be clues to brake issues.  A squealing, high pitched noise when using the brakes can mean the brake linings are worn and need replacing, or maybe the brake pads are loose. Another clue to an issue is if the vehicle pulls to one side when you brake or you feel shaking in the steering wheel.  Brakes making a grinding noise that you can feel in the pedal is a sign of a serious brake issue, and further driving could damage the brake discs or drums.  Grinding brakes are caused by excessively worn brake linings; when the lining wears off, the metal part of the brake pad or brake shoe contacts the brake disc or drum and can quickly ruin the most expensive mechanical parts of the brake system. Igor expressed that car owners never put off brake work, especially if you’re experiencing any of the above issues. Other kinds of automotive trouble may keep your vehicle from moving, but brake trouble keeps it from stopping. If your brakes fail, Igor gave two ways you can attempt to slow and stop your car.

    First, try your braking system one more time. Your vehicle likely has a dual braking system, which controls your front and rear brakes independently. Both halves of the system would have to fail for your car to totally lose all braking power. There may still be some stopping power. Try applying strong, consistent pressure to the brake pedal to see if you can slow the car down.

    Second, you can carefully employ the emergency brake system. which is separate from the main, hydraulic brake system.

    Third, start downshifting so that the engine can help slow down the car. With a manual transmission, you work your way down through the gears to slow the car down. If you have an automatic transmission, taking your foot off the accelerator should cause your car to shift to lower gears as it slows down.  Some newer cars with automatic transmissions allow you to also drive them manually with paddle shifters. If you have these, put your transmission in manual mode and downshift to the lowest gear. Check your car owner’s manual for information on using your automatic car in manual mode.

    A common question is how often should you change your oil. The traditional wisdom is that you should change your oil every 3,000 miles or 6 months, whichever comes first. Igor pointed out that the new standard is that you can typically change your oil every 5,000 miles, but the frequency in which you change your oil depends on your manufacturer’s recommendations, your operating conditions (environment), and how much wear and tear your car has already experienced. Colorado weather can be tough on autos, and Igor recommended not waiting longer than 5,000 miles.

    Thank you to Trish Schulteis and Paul Bartsch of Avon Auto & Truck for providing the location for this informative evening. Avon Auto is offering a $99 “Pothole Special” during the months or May and June 2017. The special includes an alignment, four wheels balanced and rotated, and a steering and suspension inspection.

  • April 19, 2017 9:19 AM | Laura Waniuk

    VVBW’s April event focused on how to be more financially savvy, from tax questions to preparing for retirement. Hosted on Wednesday, April 12 at the Charter at Beaver Creek, the event featured a special panel presentation and a question and answer session. The three panelists, all local professionals, were Tina DeWitt, a Certified Financial Planner with Edward Jones; Dana Erickson, a Financial Consultant with Thrivent Financial; and Patricia Plagens, Certified Public Accountant and owner of Alpine Accounting and Tax.

    Among some of the best ways to reduce your taxes are health savings accounts (HSA) and retirement plan contributions. HSAs are tax-advantaged medical savings accounts available to taxpayers in the United States who are enrolled in high-deductible health plans (HDHP). The funds contributed to an HSA account are not subject to federal income tax at the time of deposit, and HSAs offer tax deductions for all contributions and there are no income level limitations. Many employers offer an HSA as a benefit, along with a “match” for retirement funds, so check with your manager or human resources.

    Suggestions to remember with retirement plans:

    • Contribute monthly instead of annually
    • Increase your monthly contributions with EVERY raise.
    • Maximize the employer match. If you fail to contribute to your 401(k) plan up to the amount your employer matches, then you are turning down money your company would otherwise be providing for your retirement.
    • The contributions made by your employer may be subject to a vesting schedule. Make sure you understand your vesting program before you quit your job!
    • There are severe limitations to IRA’s if you’re eligible for an employer plan.

    Another point to remember regarding retirement funds: Distributions can be a 10 percent penalty if you are younger than 59.5 years of age. Some exceptions to the rule are borrowing $10,000 from an IRA for a first home college education, or even possibly health insurance or medical costs. Try to borrow from a 401(k) instead of permanently withdrawing funds.

    The suggested amount to have saved for retirement can vary from $500,000 to over $2 million, which is more than most individuals have actually saved (or possibly will save)! The panelists stressed beginning to save for retirement in your 20s, but it’s never too late to start. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) allows people who are 50 or older to make what it calls “annual catch-up contributions” — extra contributions to retirement savings accounts that can help people boost their savings. Are you somewhere between 30 and 50? Be aggressive on saving. Put aside as much as you possibly can from every paycheck to make up for lost ground.

    While each of the presenters represented a different area of financial expertise, they all stressed the importance of planning for the future and saving funds when and where possible.  Start saving, keep saving, and stick to your goals!

    This article is not intended to replace the benefits or importance of speaking with a financial expert. Please contact our presenters with any financial questions.

    Tina DeWitt, Certified Financial Planner with Edward Jones

    Dana Erickson, a Financial Consultant with Thrivent Financial

    Patricia Plagens, Certified Public Accountant and owner of Alpine Accounting and Tax.

  • March 01, 2017 9:15 AM | Laura Waniuk

    VVBW is participating in Pink Vail on Saturday, March 25, 2017 to support our local cancer center and we need your support.  Pink Vail is the world’s biggest ski day to conquer cancer. Proceeds benefit patient care and survivorship programs at Shaw Regional Cancer Center, a fully accredited cancer treatment and comprehensive breast center in Edwards, Colorado. It is rare for a rural, resort town to provide such comprehensive care, and, truly, Shaw exists because of generous donors, passionate volunteers and talented clinicians who are dedicated to restoring the health of their cancer patients.

    Join our team, “Treasured Chests!” Registration is only $25. You don’t have to be a skier or snowboarder to join the team. There are many ways to participate with us. If you can’t join us, but would like to support Shaw Regional Cancer Center, please make a donation! Click on the “Donate Now” button to the right.

    A costume contest, entertainment and fun will take place at Pink Vail Headquarters located at the base of Vail Mountain at Golden Peak. Easily accessible to skiers and nonskiers.

    Register for VVBW’s team (or donate) by clicking here!

  • February 15, 2017 9:21 AM | Laura Waniuk

    More than 40 local professional women joined VVBW on February 8 at Vista at Arrowhead for a talk on “Navigating Your Friendships,” presented by Dr. Jill Squyres. Dr. Squyres discussed ways to be a great friend who attracts and keeps wonderful people in her life.

    According to Dr. Squyres, friendship takes patience, effort and quite a bit of work. As we grow emotionally and our life circumstances change, our circles of friends are likely to change as well. We may outgrow old friendships or realize someone we thought was a good friend is really a “frenemy.” A frenemy is a combination of the terms “friend” and “enemy” and refers to a person with whom one is friendly, despite a fundamental dislike or rivalry. For example, a frenemy congratulations you on your recent marriage, while making snide comments about your spouse.

    Dr. Squyres suggests imaging a “friendship house,” with friends relegated to certain rooms. Whenever you build a house you have to start off with a solid foundation. The foundation of your friendship house is constructed of those qualities that you decide must be present for someone to be your friend. For example, the building blocks may include common interests, integrity and respect. Now you determine what you expect from a friend. Is it someone who is supportive and encourages you, or pragmatist who can get your head out of the clouds when you need it? Acquaintances start out in the yard, and can eventually make it to the porch and through the front door. Your closest friends can be in your “kitchen,” the coziest, most popular room in the home. Business friends can be in your “office.” 

    Your friendship house should reflect your ever-changing needs, values and tastes. Friends who no longer fulfill the minimum expectations of your building blocks may need to leave. Think of the house as a work in progress, with occasional decluttering of toxic frenemies or rooms being added for healthy, fulfilling and supportive relationships.

    Learn more about Dr. Squyres at her website – including her blog and link to her TEDx talk on friendships.

Vail Valley Business Women is a 501(c)6 non-profit organization. Colorado, P.O Box 3096; Avon, Colorado 81620

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