One Mamapreneur’s Story Reflects A National Trend


wasn’t doing this for others – I was starting a business for me and my family.”  As the director of Jefferson Economic Development Institute (JEDI), I hear this often.  A local nonprofit organization based in Siskiyou County, JEDI is dedicated to improving the economic well-being of people and their communities by working with women and men starting and growing businesses.  Over 70% of JEDI’s customers are women interested in starting a business; many have kids and want the flexibility of a home-based business, and others are serial entrepreneurs.

“Mamapreneurs” are part of a significant growing trend in the US economy; women-owned firms are growing at 1.5 times faster than the national average, according to The 2013 State of Women-Owned Businesses, a report commissioned by American Express OPEN. 

There are over 9.1 million women-owned businesses in the country, employing 7.9 million people, according to In the northern counties of Siskiyou, Shasta, Butte and Tehama, over 30% of all firms are women-owned (US Census Bureau).

Women entrepreneurs with 0-4 employees are starting businesses and growing their revenue significantly faster than their male counterparts across all sectors.  There are good reasons why these businesses are thriving, according to Rohit Arora, CEO of Biz2Credit Inc.:

  1. Cost of launching a business has dropped
  2. Work from home suits the needs of many women
  3. Promotional costs have plummeted thanks to digital marketing and social media
  4. Use of technology in business lending has quickened the process and lowered the cost of capital
  5. More women than men graduate from college these days

Mamapreneur Karrie Ann Snure owns Living Shasta Photography ( and is a shining example of a mama entrepreneur who is changing the face of the economy. Karrie Ann specializes in portrait photography and beautiful images of Mt. Shasta, where she lives with her family. 

When Karrie Ann’s children were 5 and 7 years old and in school, the timing seemed right to start a new business. “I wanted to be able to contribute financially to my family while doing something I loved.”  She imagined she could run a business and balance time with her kids, and deliberately scheduled her photo shoots when the kids were in school, when her husband could be with them, or they could go with her. She accomplished her goals but there was some loss of time with her kids while building the business. This isn’t uncommon – finding balance is a struggle for every entrepreneur.

Karrie Ann is adept at seizing opportunities for her business. In 2008, she was awarded a “Techquity” grant from JEDI to purchase her first professional camera. “The award paid for about half of the camera, and along with the business plan I pulled together, I entered a next phase of growth and professionalism. I joined Professional Photographers of the North Valley a few years later, and that provided another opportunity to really increase my professionalism and skills. I love working with this group and encourage others to join an industry trade group to find like-minded professional colleagues,” she shares.

The next step for Karrie Ann was to move her business out of her home. “I’m thrifty and never wanted to get ahead of myself financially. However, I was ready to bring on help and wanted a place to meet clients outside of my home. The right space came up for the right price and I took it. I was nervous, but within a few months in the new space I’d gotten enough new business to cover the rent and pay my new assistant … and was then more able to concentrate on what I did best: photo shoots and editing. I recommend outsourcing parts of your business to focus on what you do best. By delegating, I am growing my business and doing what I love most.”

Karrie Ann has started teaching beginning DSLR Portrait Workshops in her new space, and is meeting her financial goal of supporting her family. “I never imagined it would turn out this way and I feel so grateful, it was worth all the stressful stretching moments. Hard work and focusing on my goals has paid off, but not without the amazing help and rock solid support from my husband.”

Karrie Ann has learned to operate from a belief that there is enough work for all. “Feeling generous is much less stressful than worrying whether I’m going to get enough business or get the best jobs. When I act and feel generous, I relax and experience that there is enough for everyone.  It allows me to stay focused on my own growth and that of my business.”

Hats off to Karrie Ann and all the other mamapreneurs…..  

North State Resources For Starting Or Growing A Business

Butte, Glenn and Tehama Counties

Northeastern California Small Business Development Center at Butte College. Offers business management training for free or low fees. Programs include a series for start-up businesses, internet-related classes, workshops on sales and use tax, ServSafe Food Safety Training and Certification, an annual Women in Business Conference each Sept., and more. online; (530) 895-9017.

Women’s Business Exchange. Offers a women-only business networking luncheon bimonthly in Chico. Opportunity to network and market your business with 60-100 other women business owners or employees of businesses in the Chico area. Each luncheon includes a speaker offering valuable information. Info:;  Maxine (530) 343-7163.

Shasta County

Northeastern California Small Business Development Center – Shasta Cascade. Offers business clients confidential, one-on-one guidance and expertise to help build better businesses. Special programs for start-up businesses, in-person and online workshops, and much more. 2985 Innsbruck Drive, Ste. B. Redding.; (530) 222-8323.

The Women’s Fund of the Shasta Regional Community Foundation. Supports finding solutions for women struggling to break generational cycles of poverty and underachievement. Offers an annual Educational Forum on Fostering Economic Opportunities for Women. Next forum is November 6, 2014, at noon.  For more information visit

Siskyou County

Jefferson Economic Development Institute (JEDI); Mt. Shasta. JEDI is a nonprofit serving the North State with entrepreneurial training, beginner and advanced business coaching, access to financing and other financial asset development services, technology training for entrepreneurs, a free tax assistance program, and more.  JEDI is a newly designated Small Business Association Women’s Business Center serving Siskiyou, Shasta, Trinity and Humboldt counties.  205 Chestnut St.; (1-888) 926-6670.

Women in Business Network; Mt. Shasta & Yreka. WIBN is a network of dynamic, professional women achieving their business goals through support, inspiration and mentoring. This group has Mt. Shasta and Yreka chapters that meet monthly.  Both are hosting a women’s symposium on November 6th.

Nancy Swift
About Nancy Swift

Championing women entrepreneurs in the North State for the past 20 years, Nancy Swift is Founding Director of JEDI and mother of two daughters who keep her juggling schedules and managing priorities on a daily basis.

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