Giving Matters: WREN Helps Local Entrepreneurs Thrive
WREN (formerly the Women’s Rural Entrepreneurial Network) provides support, training, and networking opportunities to people operating small businesses in northern New Hampshire. They also operate two storefronts and two farmers’ markets for local vendors.
“I’ve been a painter all my life.” Jeannette Fournier’s medium is watercolors and a few years back she and her husband relocated to the Littleton-area. “We happened to drive through Bethlehem and I noticed the WREN organization on main street. I thought, “this couldn’t be more perfect timing.”
Fournier hatched a plan to get a part-time job to help subsidize her full-time passion and see if she could scratch out a living. “I have a business degree and almost 25 years of experience in a corporate environment, but I knew nothing about running my own business. So one of the first things I did when I became a member of WREN was to take some of their classes.” Some of her first classes were about writing a business plan, and how to use marketing effectively to boost sales.
But, she was also learning lessons the hard way. “The very first time I did a two-day art festival, I made six-dollars and it was horrifying!” So, again Fournier turned to WREN for a class about how to set up your booth at a trade show. “I think my first show after taking these classes my gross sales were about $800.”
Over the years her diligence earned Fournier two separate grants from WREN. One helped pay for a graphic redesign of her business cars, brochures and website, the other helped her upgrade the computer system in her studio. “I saw a huge increase then in my gross sales, and I’m making a living at it now.”
“WREN has empowered me to take steps that I need to in order to grow my business.”