NAWBO Spectacular Seven: Kelly Parthen

I “heart” sports. So much so, I remember prepping a persuasive speech to convince my primary school peers to wear seatbelts well before it was the law (yes, I’m aging myself!). The day before my speech, a fellow classmate delivered a diatribe on why sports is detrimental for youth. Enraged. I scrapped my seatbelt solicitation, instead penning a presentation on the life lessons and experiences gained through athletics such as:

– Experiencing winning streaks, heartbreaking losses and miraculous comebacks
– Importance of sportsmanship and teamwork
– Having coaches who are fantastic leaders and others who aren’t (just like bosses!)
– Getting to take the winning shot and having to ride the bench

Fast-forward 30 (cough, cough) some years. Even though I never pursued sports at the professional level (not even in college), the lessons have certainly influenced my professional endeavors. Athletics was where I gained confidence that was later needed to take risks, start a business, and pitch investors. That perseverance from yesterday sure helped me to keep going through inevitable business growth hardships and hurdles.

Though here is where my sports analogy goes a bit awry…

In the sports world, female athletes face off against other women, and men take on their own counterparts. In business, however, women are often required to step into male-dominated arenas and enter environments that aren’t always conducive or encouraging.

My company, Bean Sprouts, is one of the few exclusively female-founded restaurant chains in America. In fact, less than 7% of head chefs and restaurant owners are women. And my industry isn’t isolated. Because of statistics like this, women entrepreneurs often have few resources including limited access to capital and smaller influential networks. Lack of female role models who have “made it to the big leagues” can lead to underestimating the scale and reach their businesses can achieve.

So when Maria Sharapova, the tennis phenom, partnered with the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) to offer and entrepreneurship program, I felt my worlds colliding in a positive way.

The “season” has just started, but looking forward to the amazing tools this program has to offer including:
A dedicated coach (mentor)
Teammates (both fellow program participants and access to Maria’s incredible business team)
Playbook (a well thought out curriculum)
and most fun of all, a uniform (thanks Veronica Bear!)

Since the program started, our company has opened 3 additional cafés and launched an award-winning cookbook, Bean Sprouts Kitchen. Looking forward to what’s ahead…game on!

For more on the Bean Sprouts:
Facebook: BeanSproutsCafe
Instagram: @beansproutscafes
Twitter: @beansprouts