Building Businesses through Collaboration, Connection, and Community

Kaely of Tickel Loftis Photography photographs the beauty crew at Blu Blo Bar and Salon providing their makeup styling skills for Brittany Hadley of DearBritt and Diamond Concierge Katherine Szirmay.

Story by Ammie Bryant

“Find a group of people who challenge and inspire you, spend a lot of time with them, and it will change your life.” -Amy Poehler

Christy Koeberle grew up in California, moving to Oklahoma when she was a teenager. After getting married, she and her husband lived in Yale for around ten years. For the last three years, they and their three boys traveled, living out of a camper. They decided to return home to Stillwater last year.  

Koeberle started photography in 2009, but when she was traveling it was difficult to build a business on the road. So when they moved back home, she knew this would be the chance to finally pursue her passion for photography. She decided to specialize in Boudoir and Glamour because she wanted to make other women feel beautiful and special. “I want them to know that they matter too, they are more than just a mom, wife, and daughter,” explained Koeberle.

Koeberle’s desire to make a difference extended beyond her photography.  On March 13, Koeberle created a facebook group, “Payne County Women Business Owners & Entrepreneurs.” She wanted to connect with like-minded women, to make lasting friendships, and build business relationships that would be mutually beneficial. “I started the group because I saw a need for a women’s focused group in Stillwater and Payne County. I also wanted to help grow our entrepreneurial community here,” said Christy Koeberle.

After just four months the Facebook group has grown to more than 100 members. Members are business owners, entrepreneurs, and the self-employed. Some work from home, some work from an office, others own retail shops, salons, real estate agencies, and more. The group is as diverse as the population of the county. The only rule is that they can not solicit products or services in the group.

The Facebook group also provides a place to organize real world meetups and collaborations. In May, the women began holding once monthly lunch meetings. The location of the meetings changes from month to month with a different member taking on the role of “hostess.”

Members of Payne County Women Business Owners & Entrepreneurs meet for lunch once a month to network and discuss how they can support one another. The second lunch meeting was held on June 21, 2018 at WorkIT Coworking Center.

Koeberle wanted the group to find more ways to support one another, “I hope that our group can become an integral part of our community and we help women from all around succeed in what they truly want to do.”  So, in July, Koeberle and several other members organized a day of collaboration. The members planned to pool their talents and donate their services to one another as well as cross-promote each other while providing a fun way for members to bond with one another.

Participants met at Blu Blo Bar and Salon where Heather Divver Moss and her team of stylists provided hair and makeup services to prepare for the photoshoot later in the morning.

Christy Koeberle, Kaely Jo of Tickel Loftis Photography, and Brenna Davis Long of B.Davis Photography and Design provided their photography skills.  

Christy Koeberle and Kaely Jo take a selfie-break from photographing everyone else at Blu Blo Bar and Salon in downtown Stillwater.

Additional participants included Stacy James and Kala Hillock of Wild Honey Wedding Planning + Event Design, Brittany Hadley of DearBritt, A Tiny Boutique, Katherine Szirmay, of Kate the Concierge, and professional writer, Belinda Bruner.

Each of the participants brought something unique to the collaboration, but all came with a wish to strengthen connections with other women and to build a community of support.

I wanted to be involved with the Payne County Women Business Owners and Entrepreneurs because I feel it’s important to come together as a community to support and encourage fellow female small business owners,” explained Stacy James.

Christy Koeberle photographs Stacy James and Kala Hillock of Wild Honey Wedding Planning + Event Design.

Brittany Hadley had similar thoughts about why she joined, “I was looking forward to another networking outreach, but it has grown so quickly into an awesome place for a community of women to come together, grow relationships, share successes, and learn from one another!”

Brittany Hadley, Dear Britt A Tiny Boutique

Katherine Szirmay is the founder of Kate the Concierge Inc., a full-service Diamond Concierge company offering custom, luxury diamond shopping adventures. Szirmay doesn’t live in Stillwater full time, but was looking for additional ways to connect to the community that she has grown to love, “As a woman business owner, I am passionate about connecting and collaborating with other women. The Payne County Women Business Owners and Entrepreneurs is the perfect medium for meeting other women who have the same drive and ambitions as well as the same challenges I face as the founder of my company.”

Christy Koeberle photographs Katherine “Kate the Concierge” Szirmay with the help of Brittany Hadley of DearBritt, A Tiny Boutique. Thanks to WorkIT Coworking Center for providing studio space for the session.

If you are a woman business owner or entrepreneur and you are looking to make connections and collaborate with like-minded women, join the “Payne County Women Business Owners & Entrepreneurs” group on Facebook. As Helen Keller said, “Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.”