Women’s Business Center of Utah Launches New Free Directory of Women-Owned Businesses in the State

When Maharba Zapata was just starting to make salsa in her home Magna to support her seven children, her husband suggested Zapata name his business Salsa Queen.

Zapata, 49, said she remembers thinking, “That’s the dumbest name ever.”

The name remained, however, as deals grew, and Zapata continually had to find larger office and kitchen spaces to meet customer demand.

In fact, Zapata has become so well known by this title that when she became a US citizen a year and a half ago, she legally changed her name to SalsaQueen Zapata – a move that reflects the prominence of her salsa brand in his life.

Salsa Queen is one of more than 400 Utah women-owned businesses included in a new directory from Utah Women’s Business Centerwhere people can search by county, city, and industry to find female entrepreneurs in construction, finance, and the arts, among other fields.

The next time Utahns need to find a unique gift or hire a professional, Ann Marie Wallace, state director of the Women’s Business Center, said she hopes they go to UtahWomenOwned.com.

“Using the directory once a month can have a huge impact,” she said.

Women-owned small businesses have been hit hardest during the COVID-19 pandemic than their male counterparts, according to the US Chamber of Commerce. That’s partly because women are turning to service industries, Wallace said, and because they’ve struggled to access PPP loans, while also facing childcare issues.

Even before the pandemic, “women were already at a disadvantage because they can’t access capital like men, and they faced other barriers,” according to Wallace.

This new directory can help make a difference, she says.

“Knowing which small businesses are owned by women and where to find them is key to supporting them,” Wallace said.

Want to be added to the directory?

You can register at UtahWomenOwned.com.

The directory is open to for-profit businesses owned and operated by women, including home-based businesses, sole proprietorships, side businesses, brick-and-mortar businesses, online, e-commerce, service or product businesses and franchise businesses. .

Company rooted in passion

salsa queen

Get Zapata on the phone, and she’ll quickly start sharing recipes on how to make guacamole with her gourmet pico salsa and creamy jalapeno dip, or how to mix her chipotle queso dip with red pepper salsa to create a delicious sauce. . Just talking about it makes her hungry, she laughs.

Zapata currently has about 25 employees working out of a West Valley City location to make the salsa and dips, which can be found online and in stores across the Valley and nationwide, including Harmons, Smith’s and Sprouts Farmers Markets. During COVID-19, Zapata has also added home delivery in the Salt Lake, Ogden, Provo and Park City areas.

“People have to eat,” she says.

Zapata came to the United States from Mexico 32 years ago, and she said she started a salsa business because it matched her love for food, her culture and her family.

The sugar skull on her product labels comes from the Mexican holiday Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead), she said, and it also pays homage to her baby who died of leukemia.

Zapata is proud to have immigrated to the United States without speaking English, to now live in what she calls her “dream neighborhood”, Olympus Cove.

Early last year, Zapata spoke in front of a crowd about his success with Salsa Queen as part of Utah State University’s Entrepreneurship Leadership Series. Since then, she said she has watched a recording of her speech dozens of times.

“It’s one of the highlights of my life,” Zapata said.

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) Salsa Online at Salsa Queen in West Valley City on Friday, May 14, 2021.

Aarf Dogwalking and Petsitting

Suzie Ellison was not allowed to have a dog growing up because her father was not an animal.

“When I moved out, one of the first things I did was get a dog, and I’ve had a dog ever since,” she said.

After years of working as a paralegal, Ellison began his Aarf Dogwalking and Petsitting company in Salt Lake City 13 years ago when his son went to college. The move allowed her to combine two of her passions: dogs and being outdoors.

“It’s so much fun. It’s so rewarding,” said the 64-year-old who lives in Cottonwood Heights.

Today, Ellison oversees a team of eight, and they take dogs for walks and hikes in the valley. That part of the business has done well during the pandemic, Ellison said, because her clients still have to take their pets out while working from home.

Aarf House, which Ellison describes as a bed and breakfast for dogs, has struggled over the past year as people aren’t traveling as much and needing accommodation for their pets.

As the pandemic threw unexpected curveballs, Ellison said she still felt lucky “to do what I love.”

(Photo courtesy of Suzie Ellison) Suzie Ellison, pictured with her dog Rosie, started Aarf Dogwalking and Petsitting in Salt Lake City in 2008 to combine two of her loves: dogs and being outdoors.

HHeR inspections

Lori Rawlings started out with her business HandyGal, doing home repairs and maintenance for customers. A few years ago, the 54-year-old decided to do home inspections through her as well. HHeR inspections Business.

“I’ve always loved taking things apart and putting things back together and finding out how things work,” Rawlings said. This includes working on her Victorian home in Salt Lake City which was built in 1904, where she lives with her family.

While Utah has seen a booming housing market, Rawlings said calls for inspections have been a little slow. It could just be that her business is relatively new and she is still in the process of building up a clientele. But based on what she’s heard from real estate agents, Rawlings said it could also be because the housing market is so tight, with some people offering $100,000 more than asking prices to snag homes. places, buyers skip inspections before buying.

That worries Rawlings, she said, because Utahans could later face costly repairs if they don’t take the time to do an inspection.

Rawlings is excited about the publicity the new directory will bring to women-owned businesses in Utah, she said. Personally, a few clients contacted her for work, especially because she is a woman.

“They said, ‘I want to hire you because I think you’ll do a better job, and I want to support businesswomen,'” Rawlings said.

(Photo courtesy of Lori Rawlings) Lori Rawlings, who started HHeR Inspections, said people hired her because they wanted to support a woman-owned business.

Growth of women-owned businesses

During the coronavirus pandemic, women entrepreneurs were more likely to say they regularly worried about money and expected to lose income in the coming months, than women who worked for companies, according to a report released in April by the Utah Women and Leadership Project at USU.

“I often work without pay to make sure I can pay other people who help us with our business and keep our program running,” a female business owner talked about the project in response to a survey of how COVID-19 has affected Utah women in the workforce. Another woman said the pandemic made her “wary” about starting her own business.

The Women’s Business Center of Utah can provide resources and help, Wallace said. Despite challenges before and during COVID-19, Utah is doing well compared to other states when it comes to women-owned businesses, she said.

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) Ann Marie Wallace, left, gives advice to Abbey Daw, owner of Sweat & Soul Yoga, Thursday, Oct. 29, 2015. Wallace is the state director of the Women’s Business Center of Utah, and the organization launched a directory of women-owned businesses in May 2021.

Beehive State ranked sixth in the country in terms of economic weight for women-owned businesses, according to a 2019 report from American Express. And the number of businesses run and owned by women in Utah has increased from 77,800 in 2015 to 89,092 in 2019, a summary of the Utah Women and Leadership Project shows.

Yet information released by the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute earlier this month indicated that 59% of business owners in Beehive State are male, while 16.9% are female. (The remaining 24.1% was split between men and women.)

Wallace’s organization estimates that if women-owned and controlled businesses achieved parity with their male counterparts, in terms of revenue and employees, it would create 25,000 new businesses, 162,000 jobs and $26.5 billion. new revenue in Utah.

“If that were to happen next year, it would grow our economy 15.7%,” Wallace said. “It’s astronomical.”

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) Adrian Galaviz at work at Salsa Queen in West Valley City on Friday, May 14, 2021.

Becky Jacobs is a Report for America body member and writes about the status of women in Utah for the Salt Lake Tribune. Your donation to match our RFA grant helps him keep writing stories like this; please consider making a tax deductible donation of any amount today by clicking here.


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