Business Women

When Cathy Stafford started her business, her headquarters were her laundry room, and she had the help of one other person. Six years later, her office on Regency Road boasts 16 employees, and Stafford said she can attribute success to a few things: “prayer, perseverance, pearls, patent leather pumps and pashmina.”

That might not be the traditional recipe for success, but it speaks to a shift about who is calling the shots in many Lexington businesses.

According to the U.S. Economic Census, 26 percent of Lexington businesses were owned by women in 2002. Most of the businesses are repair, maintenance or laundry services, and health care and social assistance. Although more recent numbers aren’t available, local business owners, many of whom will be attending this week’s Minority Business Expo, said they see a rise in women taking control in Lexington.

Stafford is founder and president of Ad-Venture Promotions and the president of the Lexington chapter of the National Association of Women Business Owners. Stafford said Lexington was a welcoming atmosphere when she started her business. She joined Commerce Lexington to get advice from fellow entrepreneurs and learned that the fundamentals of building a business were the same for either gender.

“Whether a woman or a man, you just have to get out there and knock on doors. You have to swing to hit,” she said.