Press Club

Many small businesses in Arlington are hurting amid the pandemic, and that’s on top of some of the unique issues faced by Black and female business owners.

That was the topic of a pair of discussions held by Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) in Arlington on Friday (Feb. 4)

Over heaping plates of Doro Wat and injera, Warner met with local Black business owners at Dama Restaurant on Columbia Pike to discuss ongoing challenges they face and how the government can help them with better access to capital.

In attendance at the lunch were business owners from across Arlington and Northern Virginia, including the owners of Greens N Teff on Columbia Pike, Elliot DeBose from Sol Brothers Candles, Idido Coffee House owner Sofonias Gebretsadick, and Lauren A. Harris of Little Ambassadors’ Academy on Langston Blvd.

Arlington County Board member Christian Dorsey and Arlington Economic Development Director Telly Tucker were also there.

The 45 minute conversation ranged from Covid-related federal loan programs, the need for mentorships, how to simplify access to capital, and discrimination towards Black-owned businesses.

Prior to the discussion, Warner talked about how he failed twice as an entrepreneur prior to hitting it big in telecommunications. He said he understands what it takes to be a business owner, but only from his own perspective.

“I am very aware that if I had not been a white man with appropriate education, I might not have had three chances to be an entrepreneur,” he said to the crowd of about 20 business owners. “Or two chances to be an entrepreneur. Or maybe even a first chance.”

One of the biggest challenges that kept coming up was not the availability of federal dollars, like Paycheck Protection Program loans, but easier access to it. That means simplified applications and improved messaging and communication, to make sure minority-owned small businesses are aware the dollars are out there.

Harris, owner of the nearly decade-old Little Ambassadors’ Academy preschool, said her biggest criticism is confusion about how to access capital. With her being very focused on the day-to-day of her business, Harris said it’s difficult to navigate all the paperwork and  to know where exactly she needs to turn for help.

“I think as a small business owner it is very hard sometimes to figure out where the support comes from,” she said.

Questions like what’s forgivable for loans, which funds have the longest lead time, and which business over 50 employees can apply are often on Harris’ mind, but clarity of answers can be lacking.

At one point in the conversation, a recommendation of creating a “one stop shop” type of website where all available grants, loans, and programs are listed was mentioned, in which Warner agreed needs to happen.

Beakal Melaku, co-owner of Greens N Teff, said the restaurant’s experience as a brand new business points to the need for additional help marketing and reaching customers. Money to do that would go a long way, he says, but he’s unsure where to turn for that.

The question of child care came up often at both the the business roundtable at Dama and at the AWE Women in Business Summit that was also attended by Warner on Friday.

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Long since out of college, and done with the bar and party scene, Northern Virginia resident Brittany Goetz discovered she was struggling to make friends her age.

When the pandemic struck and thriving office spaces were exchanged for living rooms, it became nearly impossible.

She realized she was not the only one. Two of her friends, Alexandra Zamalloa and Rebekkah Johnson, noticed they and other acquaintances were likewise having a hard time forming connections with women, even with the ubiquity of social media and networking events. So they decided to take action.

Goetz came up with the idea for Neighborly NOVA, a social group for women that hosts events in Arlington, back in June. She recruited Zamalloa and Johnson, who both work in marketing and communications, to help create a website, organize in-person events and develop an outreach strategy.

“It’s really heartbreaking how disconnected we can all be, so we really wanted to be that platform,” said Johnson.

Their first four events have brought dozens of women from all around the region to Arlington, which they chose for its walkability and central location for attendees and themselves. Zamalloa lives in the county while Goetz lives in Alexandria and Johnson in McLean.

They’re targeting women in their 20s and 30s who are ready for adult friendships, but not yet ensconced in domestic life with partners and kids.

“Less and less, people are getting married at 25,” said Johnson. “I got tired of going to bars years ago, so I’ll just be home now. I have a dog and he’s great, but he’s not a person.”

The three said they hope to turn the organization into a certified nonprofit that provides women with mental health counseling, legal advice and other services. But for now, they’re focused on helping socially starved adult women make friends.

“Our thing is to leave politics, religion at the door,” Goetz said. “Because, despite our difference, I feel like as women we should find commonality and come together. We hope it becomes something really beautiful.”

Neighborly NOVA has hosted a variety of events, from a “Friends” trivia night to a dance fitness event at Quincy Park. In one event, women who spoke different languages taught the basics of their native tongues to their new friends. Last weekend, the group hosted a flower arranging competition in the Virginia Square Plaza apartment building. The event was sponsored by Clarendon flower shop Full Bloom, which provided the flowers and equipment.

As for the rest of the costs, like renting out the room, providing snacks, drinks, prizes and a chocolate fountain, Goetz, Johnson and Zamalloa have taken that onus upon themselves in the name of creating a space with no barriers to entry. The women say they’re happy to do it.

“This is our passion,” said Goetz. “For the most part, our lives have been blessed that we’ve been able to provide this.”

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After operating a new hair salon in Courthouse for two months, owner Carissa Lawlor says she is ready to do more than cut and color hair.

Lawlor, who opened hŌm Salon at 2020 Wilson Blvd on May 19, aims to use her 1,500-square-foot space to foster community and encourage wellness with courses and pop-up shops.

“The idea to open the salon was to elevate the salon experience, for our guests to connect with our community, encourage staff to grow, monthly specialty classes, yoga classes, life coaching,” said Lawlor. “Being your real self isn’t just beauty — it’s all encompassing…That’s why we’re here, really.”

hŌm’s first personal wellness course is scheduled for Friday, July 30 at 6:30 p.m. For $25, stylists will teach attendees tips and tricks for curling and blow-drying their hair as well as styling skills.

Starting Saturday, Aug. 7, the salon will host pop-up markets on the first Saturday of every month. Vendors will have booths inside and along the sidewalk. With hours from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., the market is timed to line up with the neighborhood farmer’s market.

For Lawlor, promoting wellness also has an ecological component. Her salon recycles around 95% of its waste, including foil and hair color packaging, which is converted into asphalt filler, car and bicycle parts and clean energy products.

“We have maybe two pounds of trash a week, not even,” said Lawlor.

The salon, which offers more than 40 services, specializes in brow styling and blonde coloring. Prices start at $51 for a hair cut and $166 for highlights. From 3-5 p.m. on weekdays, the salon offers blowouts for $25.

hŌm is open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

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(Updated at 2:40 p.m.) A Canadian boxing gym franchise designed to help women develop strength and self-defense skills is opening its first Virginia location in Ballston.

The new outpost of 30 Minute Hit on the ground floor of Randolph Towers (4001 9th Street N.) plans to open in late August, franchise owner Carola McGiffert said.

“It was the right market at the right time,” she tells ARLnow.

30 Minute Hit aims to help women and girls ages 13 and older feel empowered and safe with 30-minute circuits that combine cardio and strengthening. The gym will cater to its female clientele by offering places for children to play, keeping sessions short and not on a class schedule and hosting community events, she said.

“A lot of women we talk to love boxing and martial arts but are intimidated in boxing gyms because it’s a male-dominated environment,” the franchise owner said. “[At 30 Minute Hit] you’re not competing. You’re in a safe space with other women.”

The facility is also in touch with the needs of busy moms and working women, she said.

“There will be a child play area, a place where you can park your kid with a book or a game,” she said.

Unlike other gyms, 30 Minute Hit will not have set classes. Instead, boxers of all experience levels can come anytime within open hours to complete a half-hour circuit, which consists of multiple two-minute rounds of boxing, kickboxing, general self-defense and core training across 13 stations.

McGiffert said the 30 Minute Hit location will not just help women get stronger — it will also build community, drawing on mix of young professionals and families in the area.

“We do community events and happy hours. One popular day is the day you can bring a non-female person to the gym like a son or husband to workout for a day,” McGiffert said. “We do a lot of things that go beyond the circuit.”

Those who are interested can sign up for a free trial for one circuit with coaching from an instructor. To access unlimited circuits, clients can pay $109 a month for a two-year membership, $119 a month for a one-year membership, or $129 month-to-month.

The gym is open Monday and Wednesday from 8 a.m. to noon and 4-8 p.m., Tuesday and Thursday from 4-8 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 8 a.m. to noon.

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(Updated at 3:50 p.m.) A new exhibit at Arlington National Cemetery honors the contributions of servicewomen of color to the United States.

The exhibit, called “The Color of Freedom: Honoring the Diversity of America’s Servicewomen,” opened over the weekend at the Military Women’s Memorial, located at the end of Memorial Avenue near the cemetery’s main entrance.

Arlington resident Rita Paul, who joined the military as a single mother and spent nine years in the U.S. Army, welcomed the news of the exhibit.

“Right now, it is hard to see what is going on in our country surrounding people of color, specifically women,” Paul said. “As a servicewoman, there has always been a sense of honor and pride, and I think now, more than ever, if we can highlight the importance of positive representation, it will help make a difference.”

After retiring from the military, she started working for Comcast, which is sponsoring the exhibit.

“Women veterans of color have and will continue to play an integral role in our nation’s military and service institutions,” said Brig. Gen. (Ret.) Carol Eggert, Senior Vice President of Military & Veteran Affairs at Comcast NBCUniversal, in a statement. “We’re proud to elevate their voices and stories of service to our nation’s defense.”

Visitors to The Color of Freedom will also have access to an educational program for students, a speaker forum and a digital exhibit.

“This exhibit is a perfect example of the extraordinary, yet untold story of the thousands of women of color who for decades upon decades have made remarkable contributions to our military and to America,” said Phyllis Wilson, President at the Women In Military Service For America Memorial Foundation.

The Military Women’s Memorial recently announced the National Registration campaign to preserve the stories of the three million women who have served in the military.

Those planning a visit can reserve timed tickets for free.

Photo via Military Women’s Memorial/Facebook

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Arlington County has ranked No. 3 nationally on a list of localities “where women are most successful.”

The new rankings, from the website SmartAsset, analyzed the “percentage of women with a bachelor’s degree, median earnings for women working full-time, percentage of business owners who are women, housing costs as a percentage of women’s earnings and the percentage of full-time working women earning $75,000 or more.”

Arlington ranked behind D.C. at No. 2 and Cary, North Carolina at No. 1. Nearby Alexandria ranked No. 13.

Here’s what SmartAsset said about Arlington’s third-place ranking:

Like last year, Arlington, Virginia ranks as the third city in the U.S. where women are most successful. It leads the metric measuring bachelor’s degrees, as 76.19% of women in Arlington have at least a bachelor’s degree. Arlington also comes in second place in the median earnings metric. The median income for a woman working a full-time job in Arlington is $80,892. The city falls behind on one metric: housing costs as a percentage of women’s earnings. In 2018, median annual housing costs, across both renters and owners, made up more than 30% of average women’s earnings.

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Weekend Morning Notes

About This Post — Due to lots of coronavirus-related news, we have a number of non-disease-related local links that we haven’t been able to get to over the past two weeks. We’re running a one-time Weekend Morning Notes post to clear our queue. This will replace the usual weekend discussion post.

Arlington Cherry Blossom Walk — “Cherry blossom season in the D.C. area is a wonderful time of year, and taking in the blossoms is a beloved tradition. WalkArlington has created a walk featuring a few of our favorite locations in Arlington where you can appreciate the blooms and enjoy all that springtime in Arlington has to offer.” [WalkArlington]

Median Signs Promote Census — “What is good for the goose apparently is not good for the gander – if, that is, the gander is the Arlington County government. Those driving the roadways of Arlington in recent weeks no doubt have seen a flurry of median signage calling attention to, and promoting participation in, the federal census.” [InsideNova]

Local Cat Makes Headlines –“An adorable cat with a jaw deformity can’t help but always stick her tongue out – and her owner has insisted she wouldn’t have her pet any other way. Pretty Kitty, five, from Arlington, Virginia, can only open her mouth a ‘small amount’, and has her tongue always sticking out thanks to the way her jaw formed.” [Daily Mail]

Instant Runoff Voting for Arlington? — “Voters in future Arlington County Board elections could find themselves using the ‘instant-runoff’ method rather than the current ‘winner-takes-it-all’ manner. Both houses of the General Assembly have approved and sent to Gov. Northam a measure allowing Arlington to conduct its County Board races using instant-runoff voting, also known as ‘ranked-choice’ voting.” [InsideNova]

Arlington-Based Textile Brand Profiled — “From a plant-filled studio in Arlington, Diana Johnson translates ideas in her head to paper by lettering, illustrating and painting. Using her background in graphic design, Johnson is able to transform her artwork digitally into handcrafted products like pillows, clutches, greeting cards and, most often, prints to add a little color to any space.” [Northern Virginia Magazine]

Green Valley Looks Forward — “Low-level sales of marijuana and other substances in the Green Valley community in the 1960s grew into a full-fledged, open-air ‘drug supermarket’ by the early 1980s, with the intersection of 24th Road South and Shirlington Road ground zero for the illegal operations. On March 7, leaders of the community looked back at those days, and committed themselves to ensuring a better future for their community.” [InsideNova]

Chamber Acquires ‘Awesome Women’ –“Awesome Women (AWE), the professional networking group founded in Arlington in 2014 that now has six chapters throughout the DC area, announced today that it will become a program of the Arlington Chamber of Commerce later this year. The Arlington Chamber will offer women-only networking events beginning in the fall, and will call the new program the Arlington Chamber Chapter of AWE.” [Arlington Chamber of Commerce]

Victim of Pentagon Stabbing Identified — “The man who was fatally stabbed Monday morning on the platform of the Pentagon Metro station has been identified as a 25-year-old from Northwest Washington, a spokesman for the transit agency said. Sean Ronaldo Golden, who lived near the District’s Brightwood Park neighborhood, died shortly after arriving at George Washington University Hospital, a report provided by Metro says.” [Washington Post]

New Pho Restaurant Opens on Columbia Pike — Pho Harmony, a carry-out Vietnamese noodle restaurant, has opened on the 3200 block of Columbia Pike. [Twitter]

And now here it is, your moment of zen…

https://twitter.com/wamu885/status/1241206140475768832

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Arlington Central Library (1015 N. Quincy Street) next month will host an exhibition that pays tribute to women who have helped to shape Arlington.

The exhibit, open from March 5 to April 2, will display “stories, photographs, letters and memorabilia, which spotlight individuals and groups of Arlington women who dedicate their work to improve their community and the lives of others,” according to the library website.

Dubbed “Women’s Work: Then & Now,” the exhibit coincides with both Arlington County’s centennial and the centennial of the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote and was passed in 1920.

Liza Mundy, the author of “Code Girls: The Untold Story of the American Women Code Breakers of World War II,” will participate in an author talk after the opening reception, which is being held at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 5. Attendees are asked to RSVP for the event.

More from the library website:

Discover and learn about the work of Anna Barber, Charlene Bickford, Ellen Bozman, Judith Brewer, Elizabeth Campbell, Gertrude Crocker, Pauline Haislip Duncan, Alice Fleet, Alice Foster, Saundra Green, Critchett Hodukavich, Seema Jain, Carolyn (Carrie) Johnson, Cintia Johnson, Dr. Phoebe Hall Knipling, Puwen Lee, Marguerete Luter, Mary A. R. Marshall, Sushmita Mazumdar, Ruby Lee Minar, Constance (Connie) Ramirez, Caroline Gary Romano, Cornelia Bruere Rose, Jr., Virginia Lillis Smith, Florence Starzynski, Margarite Syphax, Nancy Tate, Marjorie Varner, and Dr. Emma Violand-Sanchez.

The nominees, selected by the 16 exhibition partners, were based on their groundbreaking, visionary and ongoing contributions to the communities they serve. Also included in this exhibition, are women who were curated from the Center for Local History’s online exhibition, “Women’s Work: Stories of Persistence and Influence.”

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Startup Monday header

Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.comStartup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings.

Arlington is the third-best place for women who work in tech, according to a new study.

The website SmartAsset ranked local jurisdictions by looking at a number of factors — including income relative to housing costs, the gender pay gap, percentage of tech jobs filled by women, and the four-year rate of tech employment growth.

Arlington placed No. 3, while D.C. ranked No. 2 and Baltimore ranked No. 1, according to SmartAsset’s methodology. Per the website:

Arlington, Virginia has consistently ranked as one of the most livable cities in the U.S., partially due to its affordable housing costs as compared to income. In this study, we found that average earnings after housing costs for women working in tech were $65,210 in 2018, the sixth-highest amount for this metric across all 59 cities. Additionally, women constitute 34% of the tech workforce in Arlington, which is the sixth-largest percentage in the study for this metric.

In all, 59 of the largest U.S. cities were ranked.

Arlington ranked highly compared to San Jose, California, in the heart of Silicon Valley, mostly due to lower relative tech employment among women and a larger gender pay gap there. San Jose’s gender pay gap of 83% compared to Arlington’s 89%, while 34.5% of tech jobs in Arlington were filled by women, compared to only 21.5% in San Jose.

Sarah Eastman, a co-founder of Boolean Girl Tech in Arlington, said the county’s recognition is “well-deserved.” The company has earned national recognition for its classroom kits and camps aimed at getting young women interested in coding as part of an effort to combat the gender disparity in the tech industry.

“At Boolean Girl, we see it firsthand in our Ambassador Network, a robust community of local women in STEM who volunteer at our summer camps and Clubhouse, providing role modeling and mentorship for our girls as they learn coding, engineering and other STEM skills,” said Eastman. “These women are emblematic of the impressive talent-level in Arlington, as well as the community’s focus on giving back to the next generation, helping girls learn about STEM in a collaborative and welcoming environment.”

That sentiment was echoed by Alecia Vimala, who recently moved her startup Peercrate, which creates a “social commerce” smartphone app, to Arlington.

“I’ve only been in the area briefly, but based on my experiences, I would say the ranking is absolutely in line,” she said. “Arlington has this fresh energy and enthusiasm around innovation and technology. I feel the tech community provides real opportunities and genuine support for women championing new, innovative ideas in tech.”

There are a number of resources for women in technology in Arlington and the region. Arlington Economic Development has held a number of events focused on helping female entrepreneurs, for instance, while the groups Women Who Tech and Women in Technology are active in the region and hold occasional events.

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Morning Notes

It’s Election Day — Voting today in Arlington will take place between 6 a.m.-7 p.m. at your local polling place. Most of the local candidates in competitive races penned essays describing why Arlington residents should vote for them. [Arlington County]

Almost A Century Since Suffrage — “Tomorrow represents 99 years of women voting in Arlington. Arlington’s celebrating with 19 events this year.” [Twitter, Arlington County]

‘Baby Trump’ Greeting Key Bridge Commuters — Arlington Democrats have inflated a 13-foot “Baby Trump” on the Virginia side of the Key Bridge as part of a get-out-the-vote message. [Twitter]

Anti-Trans Group is Based in Shirlington — “From the 12th floor of a glass office tower in the Washington suburbs, a campaign to sway the governor’s race in Kentucky on Tuesday is being waged with an alarmist claim that has little to do with the race itself: If Democrats have their way, soon boys will be able to compete against girls in school sports.” [New York Times]

Growing Season Over in D.C. Area — “As of this morning, the growing season has been declared to have ended across our entire forecast area. Frost and freeze [watches and warnings] will not be issued again until Spring 2020.” [Twitter]

Pedestrian Enforcement in Clarendon Tomorrow — “As part of the Street Smart campaign, officers will conduct high-visibility traffic enforcement… November 6th from 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. [on the] 2700 block of Clarendon Boulevard (Pedestrian Enforcement Detail).” [ARLnow]

Nearby: Va. Tech Unveils Plan for Potomac Yard — “Plans are starting to take shape for North Potomac Yard. Virginia Tech has submitted its first concept plan, showing what its Innovation Campus will look like just as the design of the Potomac Yard Metro station nears its final design phase.” [ALXnow]

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Activist and actress Jane Fonda will be coming to Arlington next weekend for an event with Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.), Beyer’s office is announcing this morning.

Fonda will be the special guest at Beyer’s fifth annual Women’s Conference and Forum, subtitled this year “Nevertheless, She Persisted.” (Last year’s conference was dubbed “Breaking Through: Women Work For Change.”)

“Rep. Beyer’s Women’s Conference is an annual event that convenes local stakeholders and experts to discuss a wide array of issues and how they impact women,” the congressman’s office says in a press release. “In addition to Beyer’s conversation with Fonda, the Conference will feature a plenary panel session focused on achieving equal rights for all people and eliminating the gender wage gap.”

The event is being held at George Mason University’s Arlington campus in Virginia Square on the morning of Saturday, Oct. 12.

The full press release is below.

Rep. Don Beyer (VA-08) announced today that Jane Fonda will be a special guest at his Fifth Annual Women’s Conference and Forum: Nevertheless, She Persisted. Fonda is an award-winning actress, and a political activist for causes including feminism, Native American rights, peace, and the environment. She is the co-founder, with Gloria Steinem and Robin Morgan, of the Women’s Media Center and the Founder & Chair Emeritus of the Georgia Campaign for Adolescent Power and Potential. Her philanthropic work includes charitable support for education, young people’s reproductive health, and the arts. She has been a leading voice of her generation for over 50 years. Fonda and Megan Beyer, a global women’s advocate and former Executive Director of the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities under President Obama, will have a fireside chat to open the conference.

Rep. Beyer’s Women’s Conference is an annual event that convenes local stakeholders and experts to discuss a wide array of issues and how they impact women. In addition to Beyer’s conversation with Fonda, the Conference will feature a plenary panel session focused on achieving equal rights for all people and eliminating the gender wage gap. This will be followed two breakout panels – one on the impact of grassroots organizing and the other on understanding women’s rights and the law.

Rep. Beyer will also present the Clara Mortenson Beyer Women and Children First Award to McLean’s Marie Ridder, which Beyer announced last week. The event will be held at George Mason University’s Arlington Campus.

Image via Rep. Don Beyer/Eventbrite

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