Every budding entrepreneur starts their journey with a sparkling vision and eye on the prize – plus an understanding of the slew of challenges before them. While networking options are available, Ashley Bowne noticed that support groups are harder to come by, leaving many new business owners feeling like they’re on their own. So she decided to start her own group, specifically geared toward women in and around Westerly, called Entrepreneur Coffee.
“I wanted the opportunity to collaborate with other business owners in the area, be able to swap ideas, and have that support and camaraderie that you want in business,” Bowne says. As a realtor servicing Rhode Island and Connecticut, she knows first-hand the difficulties that face entrepreneurial women. She took the leap into real estate in 2013, and after getting her license, worked on building her business while simultaneously growing a family. The juggling act was no easy feat, and Bowne found herself seeking a support system of others who could understand and relate to what she was going through.
Entrepreneur Coffee poured its first proverbial cup in the fall of 2021 with a simple Facebook post to measure interest. When she received more positive responses than she expected, she scheduled a meet-up, and the group was born.
Now, members spanning a range of industries meet once a month in an encouraging space where they can share experiences, celebrate wins, discuss challenges, and float strategies, along with hosting more directed conversations on topics like advertising, streamlining processes, and balancing family life with work. “It’s not a networking group,” Bowne says, emphasizing the focus is on support. “But naturally, networking is a byproduct – there’s been a tremendous amount of collaboration within the group.”
Through the help of sponsors and donations, Bowne also organizes creative quarterly events to help give new entrepreneurs a leg up – through, for instance, a mini-photoshoot for business branding – or just to boost morale and de-stress with a beach party or outing. Entrepreneur Coffee has also hosted two drives benefiting the Jonnycake Center of Westerly. “My goal is always to bring something of value, serve the community, or celebrate each other and have fun together,” Bowne says, and to grow in numbers – any woman who owns a business or is considering starting her own is encouraged to join. “We are welcoming, we want you here, we’re inclusive.”
Moving forward, Bowne says, “I just want to see all of us continue to come together, support each other, be able to serve our community in bigger and better ways as we all get more established, collaborate with each other, and become a force to be reckoned with.” After all, she says, “We’re all stronger and better together.” To learn more or join the group, visit Facebook: Entrepreneur Coffee or email Bowne at
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