I had an idea: Let’s have a safe place where women can come together at least once a month; not to network, but to simply connect. We can build friendships, grow personally and professionally, learn, and illuminate each other. We can have two women speak at each gathering, to share their stories and teach us about themselves and their profession. And we should also provide food and wine!
This was the seed of inspiration that would blossom into Illuminating Women, LLC. I knew I would need a partner to help me bring my vision into being, even at the earliest stages. I approached my friend, Cecilia Gambill, Owner and President of EZ Lighting and Electric, with my idea. She immediately said YES! She was willing to help me make my dream a reality, and we were off and running.
Our first event was hosted at Illuminating Electric in Issaquah, Washington, on May 9, 2014. Our speakers were Lisa Stariha, a Bariatric Dietician with Kaiser Permanente; and Susan Hesselgrave, a Strategic Communications and Management Specialist. It was a rousing success.
We decided to start having a second gathering once a month called Celebrating Women in Business: Brick and Mortar, and Home-Based. Our inaugural launch of this meeting was held at Revolve Consignment, owned by Terri Thorne, where we handed out our first Illuminating Woman of the Quarter Award to one of our first speakers, Lisa Stariha.
The word started to spread throughout the Puget Sound Area about the special vibe of these gatherings of amazing women. Attendance steadily increased, and we began to outgrow the little venues where we usually met. We added quarterly luncheons, and an annual garden party potluck with a changing festive theme.
In 2017, Cecilia informed me she was planning on moving to Florida in order to spend more time with her family. We were approaching a critical period for Illuminating Women™, and it was time to take it to the next level. I knew I would still need a partner after Cecilia left.
This time I approached Tammy Wilson Smith of Healthy Transformations and received another big YES. She would help me build Illuminating Women™ into a genuine business. After 17 months of hard work, dedication, and fabulous contribution to programming, events, and growing I.W., especially in the north end, Tammy found her life took on some new changes that required her to focus on her business Healthy Transformations stating, “I’m called to move this venture forward.” In August of 2018, Tammy decided to step down from co-ownership of Illuminating Women, LLC.
From the beginning, Illuminating Women™ has grown due to the women who witnessed and supported the mission. I will always be grateful for Tammy’s contribution and support to my vision of empowering women so that women can illuminate their personal and professional lives.