Business & Real Estate

Women Entrepreneurs of Los Altos hosts coming-out party

Elizabeth Barcelos/Town Crier
Women Entrepreneurs of Los Altos’ “WE Vibe Block Party” on First Street Saturday brings a lively atmosphere to a usually sleepy part of downtown.

Women Entrepreneurs of Los Altos hosted the “WE Vibe Block Party” on First Street Saturday, inviting local residents to meet the movers and shakers behind the city’s woman-owned businesses.

The event, which served as a coming-out party of sorts for the group, included live music, food trucks and workshops on topics such as “How to Use Instagram for Your Business,” “Positive Life Design through Journaling” and “3 Things You Must Do to Prepare for Presentations” – all taught by local women entrepreneurs.

The block party was the brainchild of WE Los Altos member Audrey Lund, a local artist with a studio downtown. According to WE Los Altos coordinator Upuia Ahkiong, owner of Kua Body on First Street, Lund was instrumental in the push to introduce the group to a wider audience.

“I’m going to put Audrey on the spot, but she’s the one who said to me, ‘I think it’s time for the public to meet us,’” Ahkiong said. “And I thought, ‘OK, what’s that going to look like? First Street is a little flat. It needs a little vitality.’”

Bringing women together

Ahkiong was new in town when she opened Kua Body’s Los Altos location in 2014. She lives in Pleasanton, where she operates her other branch of the studio, which specializes in massage and other wellness treatments.

“I was an unknown,” she said. “As a new business, how do you get to know your fellow business owners?”

Rather than trying to make connections just to benefit herself, Ahkiong decided to think bigger. After realizing that a community of woman-owned businesses surrounded her studio in downtown Los Altos, she committed to celebrating them during Women’s History Month in March 2016 and at subsequent social events.

While Ahkiong’s idea of honoring and connecting local women entrepreneurs may have started as a celebration, it snowballed into something greater.

“As a result of those social events, we gave birth to a group instead of just a celebration,” she said of the origins of WE Los Altos.

WE Los Altos events have included happy hours at Honcho and a gathering at Enchanté Boutique Hotel where members shared their success stories. Saturday’s block party proved the group’s biggest undertaking yet.

Looking ahead

Now in its second year, WE Los Altos’ ambitions have grown along with its membership.

The organization has its eye on budding businesswomen, with the program Youth Share Shops set to launch.

“(Teenage girls) can meet entrepreneurs and learn about being a business owner,” said WE Los Altos member Allison Gonzalez, owner of Evolve Classical Pilates in Loyola Corners. “They don’t talk about this in high school. This is another viable type of career to have, to be a business owner.”

In addition to reaching out to high schoolers, WE Los Altos plans to embrace Foothill College students as leaders of the future.

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