PHOENIX — No one has been safe from the impacts of the coronavirus in the economy. However, specific industries and specific people have been hit harder than others.
Data released this year by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce shows that women-owned businesses are struggling more than their male-counterparts.
"To be a female in this... especially in the restaurant industry, being a sole-owner female is incredibly difficult," said Kirsten Steele. "And I'm probably... what? One of like 5% of restaurants in the Valley that are owned by women?"
Steele knows the struggle, but also knows how resilient women came be. "I... never give up," Steele said.
Resilience in the restaurant industry is a requirement during a global pandemic. Steele is the owner of Chestnut @ The Vintage near 44th Street and Osborn Road.
She said, they had to get creative and pivot quickly to cope in this crisis, like starting outdoor events and providing food delivery service.
"I have people who come to me, Sarah being one of them, and customers, and other women in The KNOW... like, praising me on the transition that we did... the pivot that we had in that moment and that support is life-breathing," said Steele.
Steele is referring to Sarah Benken, who is the founder and CEO of The KNOW Women.
"We really focused on things like helping our women grow and how to really, truly support them through this time," Benken explained. "So, by way of master classes, by way of more intentional connections online through Zoom and through our new Facebook group."
Benken launched the initiative in Phoenix three years ago with The KNOW book, which is a year publication that highlights female-led companies the community can support. Now, it has grown to be a global resource.
The Rebound Arizona asked Benken, why women have been hit so hard during this pandemic.
"I think that it's challenging for women-owned businesses to begin with because we're always looking at the juggle between home-life, kids, and getting it all done," Benken explained.
The next step is The KNOW Cares. This is a second part of the organization and is a non-profit built during the pandemic to provide emergency relief funds, leadership help, mentorships, and grants to aspiring entrepreneurs.
"To be approached by another woman who was like, 'I see you and what you're doing and I see the,'... Oh, I'm going to get all like teary-eyed," Steele said. "'I see the other women in this community and what they're doing and I want to honor that'. I mean, it's like phenomenal, right?"
A support system that is needed now more than ever.
To learn more about The KNOW Women and KNOW Cares, click here: https://theknowwomen.com/
To check out Chestnut @ The Vintage, click here.