Women entrepreneurs make up a large, growing and vital part of the downtown business landscape. Women business owners and managers – who make up 40 percent of all downtown businesses owned in Wisconsin – find the downtown environment to be a supportive place to start and grow a business, offering convenient marketing, built-in foot traffic, and a community of other entrepreneurs to collaborate with. This network of like-minded business owners bodes well for future business growth – by 2018, women-owned businesses are expected to create more than half of small business jobs and one-third of total jobs in the country – and for downtown spending, as women control 81 percent of U.S. household retail spending decisions.  As the community of women entrepreneurs grows, each individual business owner has a story to share about how she arrived at the decision to become an entrepreneur very differently. In the coming weeks, the blog will feature several of those stories from women business owners across the state, in a variety of sectors to provide a more nuanced view of women’s entrepreneurship in Wisconsin.

Today’s featured downtown businesswoman is Jennifer Opachan, who opened Bodytherapy by Jen in downtown Ladysmith several years ago, and continues to grow and expand her presence in the community.Jen Opachan

What has been your most rewarding experience as a business owner? I am blessed with a rewarding career. People from all walks of life come through my door. Some need to relax, some to rehabilitate, but most need pain relief. Many times they are in so much pain that they are frustrated, exhausted and depressed. Bringing them relief and giving them hope is the most rewarding aspect of my job.

How has your downtown location influenced your business? My downtown location has been a key component in the success of my business. It was something I looked for. Having a professional setting was very important. I wanted to be downtown because of the traffic – people are always walking or driving by and peeking in.

What do you wish someone had told you when you were getting started? Dream big, you’ll grow into it. I am constantly starting projects I never would have thought possible before owning by business. Once you realize it’s okay to fail, it’s not so scary taking a chance. I really don’t think I would change anything – I have learned so much along the way.