Photos courtesy of Jenny Indig
Otherwise known as WWMW, the collective hopes to act as a resource and support for female business owners in Westchester.
There’s a new networking game in town — and this one is exclusively for women. Westchester Women Making Waves (WWMW), a networking group for female entrepreneurs, business owners, founders, philanthropists, and investors throughout the county, is the creation of LMNOP Bakery owner/founder Anne Mayhew and culinary blogger Jenny Indig, who writes the Bedford Balabusta blog.
“I’m really interested in [Westchester] Women Making Waves being a resource,” says Mayhew. She says the many women who operate markets and small businesses near her in Northern Westchester have been generous in sharing advice. One of her goals is to create a comprehensive online resource guide, so members can easily access contacts for anyone who can help them move their businesses forward.
“People are going through hard times emotionally,” she says. “To reestablish these personal connections, everyone’s coming out of the woodwork saying, ‘How do you stop the primal screams and really help each other out?’”
Mayhew and Indig’s professional experiences prompted them to seek connection and support. Mayhew worked in costume design and millinery on Broadway and for the Metropolitan Opera before switching to the creative pursuit of baking bread. Self-taught, she’s operated LMNOP Bakery, which produces delicious breads crafted from local organic grains, mostly from home, since 2017. She’s been crowdfunding for the Katonah storefront she’ll be opening this spring.
Indig experienced the old boys’ club throughout her career working in counterterrorism and national security. She’d begun transitioning into freelance food writing and furthering her passion project, a food blog, before moving to Northern Westchester from Brooklyn early in the pandemic. Isolated that first year, she eventually ventured out to local shops, talking to owners and getting to know her surroundings. Interested in that bread wrapped with LMNOP’s signature red-ribbon tie, she reached out to Mayhew.
One day, Indig, a self-described “community builder at heart” who was taken by the “super interesting” stories of the female business owners she’d met, asked Mayhew if there was some type of network that was bringing together her and other female business owners to share resources. Mayhew’s response: “No. But that would be amazing!”
They invited a handful of women to dinner in late October 2021. “It was this incredible evening,” says Indig, commenting on the high level of energy and enthusiasm in a room of women who mostly did not know each other. “People were really hungry for that type of human connection coming off the year of COVID. Everyone left saying, ‘What do we do next?’”
She and Mayhew didn’t have a clear pathway, ulterior motive, or agenda. Building on their initial success, they turned to their social media accounts, LMNOP’s mailing list, and word of mouth. A second meeting was held in December; currently there are approximately 150 members of the collective.
“It’s happened very organically,” says Indig, who adds that she and Mayhew are not interested in making money from the nascent group but are focused instead on how to service the community they’ve built.
On the WWMW site, members post about wanting to strategize, offer support, learn from one another, develop professional connections and collaborations, help mentor guide and encourage, and get inspiration.
Commenting that new and established business owners feel very much alone, Indig says she loves being able to bridge the gap between what already exists and the collective knowledge and experience of women who have been doing this for decades or longer with new female business owners who are popping up all over the place. “We can be resourceful and resources for each other,” she says, “to make it not feel so lonely.”
“It’s so inspiring, knowing that I feel a tidal wave of change coming to the neighborhood.”
—WWMW member, as said to Anne Mayhew, owner, LMNOP Bakery
According to Mayhew, the ongoing in-person meetings they had originally planned on were put on hold because of COVID, but Indig says they are now looking forward to reinstituting that plan. The founders want the members to dictate the group’s path, emphasizing it is not a working mom’s coterie or an exclusive one. Indig is writing a weekly newsletter highlighting members, as well as events and happenings in members’ businesses. Mayhew, who wishes she had more guidance early in her career, hopes to create a mentorship program for young women starting their careers and perhaps a scholarship fund for it.
The duo say they are thrilled by response so far, even giving WWMW its moniker from a moving comment made by a member who attended that first dinner. “She said, ‘It’s so inspiring, knowing that I feel a tidal wave of change coming to the neighborhood,’” recounts Mayhew. “It gives me chills just saying it.”