Jenna Shriver said she had always dreamed to one day pave the way for female business owners and entrepreneurs.
Shriver’s own entrepreneurial journey led her to create Together Studios, a female-focused co-work space, studio, and community that exists for creative entrepreneurs to have resources they need for their businesses. Shriver’s vision for her company is to build a workplace where professionals can collaborate, create, and feel a sense of community as small business owners.
Shriver started her career as a wedding and portrait photographer and said she noticed how difficult it can be for female entrepreneurs to build and sustain creative businesses on their own.
“I took all of my personal struggles and experience over the past 10 years or so and just really dreamed up solutions for other female entrepreneurs,” Shriver said. “How can I make it easier for them and make it more cost-effective for them? How can I solve problems that they have and just help them accelerate in their businesses with not as much of an overhead to be able to start and grow those businesses?”
Shriver’s Together Studtios is one of five finalists in this year’s Carroll County Biz Challenge, a “Shark Tank” style competition in which local entrepreneurs pitch business ideas, make connections, get publicity, and compete for a $5,000 cash prize and thousands of dollars worth of additional prizes and services. Sponsored by the Carroll County Chamber of Commerce, the event is in its ninth year.
The other finalists, chosen from 29 applicants are Covalent Spirits, Dirigible Systems, RetroStrap, and Willet Family Farm. They will compete in the live finale at 6 p.m., Thursday, Aug. 27, with contestants making their pitches to judges live at the Carroll Arts Center in Westminster. Because of the coronavirus pandemic, there will be no audience this year, but people can stream the event live at CarrollBizChallenge.com or watch it on Comcast channels 19 or 1086 and vote for their favorites.
It took about two years for Shriver to develop the groundwork for Together Studios and she officially opened at the beginning of July. Shriver is currently accepting members, but there was a brief period of time where she questioned whether to open at that time or not because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Shriver hopes Together Studios can become a launch pad for young business owners, regardless of whether membership is slow at first.
“That was one of the biggest struggles for me as a female entrepreneur about 10 years ago, just not having any community,” Shriver said. “My friends who are also female entrepreneurs were just so few and far between at that point in time and just to be able to have a space where that can happen in a really healthy and collaborative way, that changed my life as an entrepreneur.
“I really want to be able to help build that for other people.”
Shriver, born and raised in Carroll County, said she wanted to start a business in her hometown because the county is “close to her heart.” Together Studios is her way of giving back to the community and increasing a sense of togetherness between fellow Carroll countians.
If Shriver wins the Biz Challenge, she plans to put the prize money toward easily accessible resources for members of Together Studios such as desktop computers with reliable software necessary for entrepreneurs to get their work done.
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“No woman should be held back from starting or growing their business,” Shriver said. “Even if they can’t afford their own laptop, equipment, or software that they can come and have access to that here for a very affordable cost.”