Three Minnesota Female Entrepreneurs to Be Honored at WomenVenture's Annual Event

Women-Owned Businesses Seven Sundays, A Woman’s Design and Heart&Core to Receive Awards

For 20 years, a wide range of professionals, community leaders and individuals have come together to invest in the economic success of women at WomenVenture's annual luncheon. This year, more than a thousand people will gather on November 6 at the Minneapolis Convention Center for the big event—When Small Business BOOMS: An Entrepreneur's Journey. Guests will hear an inspirational keynote address from Angie's BOOMCHICKAPOP President and Cofounder Angie Bastian, and three local women-owned businesses will be honored with Nothing Ventured, Nothing Gained awards in three categories: Expanding Business, Emerging Business and Social Entrepreneur.

About the Award Winners

Nothing Ventured, Nothing Gained: Expanding Business Award Winner
When Hannah Barnstable started Seven Sundays in 2011, she wanted to capture the feeling of a relaxed Sunday morning. It's a feeling she experienced often during her honeymoon to New Zealand, where she and husband Brady enjoyed leisurely multi-course breakfasts that started with simple, tasty muesli. When they returned to New York, Hannah went on a hunt for good muesli and came up short. So the investment banker decided to quit her job and start her own company. What followed was a whirlwind year: leaving her job, moving back to Minnesota, starting Seven Sundays, and getting pregnant with their first child. That fast-paced growth is something Hannah is familiar with these days, as Seven Sundays has grown from a little farmers' market stand to being in Target stores and Sun Country planes nationwide. She has gone from shuttling muesli on her Raleigh bike to ramping up production for some 4,000 stores by the end of 2015. WomenVenture has helped her ramp up along the way, with a 2013 loan to help meet growing demand. Now with a full-time staff of five, Seven Sundays continues to grow and shift, including launching new products and going gluten-free. Through it all, Hannah remains committed to her original mission: reclaim breakfast. 

Nothing Ventured, Nothing Gained: Emerging Business Award Winner
As early as age 16, Natalia Hals was helping women navigate the birthing process. In fact, she left her 16th birthday party to help a family member in early labor. Over the years, Natalia became the person other friends and family called on for birth support, and in 2009 she decided to turn that experience into a career. After doula training and a year at Woodwinds hospital building skills and confidence, Natalia started A Woman's Design in 2010, offering childbirth services to women around the Twin Cities. She loved the business of birthing, but after a few years of solo work and long on-call stretches, she started to burn out. That's when she turned to WomenVenture and signed up for a six-week program. Armed with a revamped business model and a loan, Hals relocated from her 400-square-foot space in Circle Pines to a more central, larger location in Roseville. There, in early 2015, she was able to hire four other doulas, find a virtual assistant to delegate tasks to, and add educational classes for new parents and parents-to-be. These changes have allowed Natalia to step into a greater leadership role, help other women thrive as doulas, and have an even greater impact in the community. 

Nothing Ventured, Nothing Gained: Social Entrepreneur Award Winner
In 2008, Jen Swendseid and her sister took their mom shopping for a sports bra as she looked forward to retirement. However, they found the selection to be dismal for a larger-chested woman who'd gone through breast cancer. And so the sisters set out to create a better sports bra for women like their mother, one that offered underwire-free lift and encapsulation. A $10,000 loan from WomenVenture assisted with the initial product launch, and government contracts soon helped the young company grow in funding, experience and confidence. (Heart&Core has produced more than 200,000 bras for the military since 2010.) In 2011, Heart&Core started to shift its focus to the post-surgical market, an area where they saw greater need and less competition than sports bras. They've been supporting women recovering from breast, heart and lung surgery since 2012 with the Bonita bra—named, fittingly, for their mother. The bra offers easy front opening and drain management to make sensitive post-surgery moments easier for both patients and hospital staff. Heart&Core is also launching a slightly simplified new bra, the Elisabeth, that's easier for hospitals and other large institutions to offer to patients in-house—an area of great potential growth for the company.  

Guests will learn about the impact that WomenVenture has in the community and the critical services the organization provides. They will also have the opportunity to support local and women-owned businesses by shopping and networking in a marketplace with more than 50 vendor booths featuring unique products and services.

“WomenVenture’s annual luncheon is the organization’s largest fundraiser of the year, and a significant day of generating support for our programs and services for women,” said Elaine Wyatt, WomenVenture Executive Director. “Because of the generosity of donors on this single day, WomenVenture is able to guide hundreds of women like Hannah, Natalia and Jen in their journeys to building profitable and sustainable small businesses in Minnesota.”

More information and purchase tickets

About WomenVenture

WomenVenture is a Minneapolis-based nonprofit dedicated to helping women attain economic self-sufficiency through the creation and growth of profitable and sustainable businesses. Over the past three decades, the organization has provided more than 100,000 women of all ages, cultures, races and income levels with the tools and resources to make their entrepreneurial dreams a reality.

In 2014, WomenVenture served 594 clients and helped start, expand or strengthen 259 businesses; these are the entrepreneurs that are fueling Minnesota's economy. They help communities grow by paying taxes and by supporting other local businesses, and they create jobs that pay living wages. Last year alone, WomenVenture client business owners created 489 new jobs and retained 455 jobs; their employees earned a median wage of $23 per hour and they generated $14.6 million in new salaried income.