Geneva business woman headed to Washington

Photo by Steve Bittinger
By Samantha Haggerty
Geneva Republican

Geneva, IL -

From Oprah to Capitol Hill, Geneva resident Renee Wood is an entrepreneur of the 21st century.

Wood started her own business, The Comfort Co., which is an online sympathy gift company. She has now has been chosen as one of the 20 most promising women business owners by The Make Mine a Million $ Business program.

The program is co-founded by American Express and Count-Me-In. It’s the only program of its kind to help women entrepreneurs by providing access to money, mentoring and technology resources.

Wood, along with about 60 other women, have been invited to convene with the Women Impacting Public Policy in Washington, D.C., Sept. 17 to Sept. 19. The group will attend a congressional luncheon on health care and also get to speak directly to the Senate and the House on the role of women entrepreneurs.
Q: Why did you want to start a sympathy gift company?
A: Well, my sister-in-law’s father died and I wanted to get the family a gift. The only thing out there were flowers. I wanted more of a keep sake, something the family could have and pass on in the family.

Q: What type of sympathy gifts does your company carry?
A: We design pendants, ornaments, stepping stones and an entire collection of things. We also have pet loss gifts.

Q: How did you start your business?
A: I went to Matson’s Jewelers and they made a pendent. My sister-in-law would wear it and kept getting asked where people could get one like it. So I had 150 made and they all sold. I was staying at home with my three kids and thought I should create a Web site and it grew from there. Then about two years ago, Oprah called and my company was featured on her show. That gave us a real boost.

Q: What obstacles have your encountered?
A: Personally, my biggest obstacle was not having any business experience. I went to college to be a social worker. I really am the last person in the world people would have thought would create my own business. But I researched things online and read books. I really was acting like a graduate student with my research. I also had three kids to take care of and a household.

Q: What advice do you have for your fellow women entrepreneurs?
A: One mistake I made was I under capitalized my business. I was starting an Internet business and I didn’t own a computer. My advice would be to buy what you need from the very beginning. Give yourself the dollars and time you need to start your business.

Don’t doubt what you’re doing during the start up phase. Give yourself a full chance to have your business succeed.