Editor’s Note: Inspiring by Example

latoya coats of Park2Film with her children Jaide (left) and Aj Nowling-Coats.

In 2024, women owning their own businesses is neither surprising nor uncommon. The National Association of Women Business Owners finds that of the 33.2 million small businesses in the United States, 43.2% are owned by women. And according to the U.S. Census Bureau, in 2017, Ventura County alone had over 3,000 “employer firms” owned by women. While many studies find that women entrepreneurs continue to face more challenges than their male counterparts, particularly where financial support and mentorship are concerned, the number of businesses owned and operated by women continues to rise.

Ventana Monthly is honored to feature four women finding success on their own terms in our first Women in Business issue. With thousands of enterprises to choose from, narrowing the field was no easy feat. But for our first outing, we tried to find a mix that reflected Ventura County’s diversity in terms of both industry and culture.

One major touchstone for us — and for many of our local business owners — was Women’s Economic Ventures, WEV. This organization founded in 1991 is “dedicated to the economic empowerment of women,” according to the website. Operating in Santa Barbara and Ventura counties, it provides a myriad of much-needed support for those opening a new business, or taking an established one to the next level. In addition to a wide range of classes in business and finance basics, it also offers consulting, mentorship, networking opportunities, funding and more. We talked to WEV’s COO as well as a WEV client and advocate about how the organization has opened doors to success in About Town.

For years we’ve been hearing about the value of STEM — science, technology, engineering and math — for moving into the future, and for making sure women and people of color are moving along with it. Long before the acronym was even created, however, Marta Alvarez was making major strides in the field. For over 30 years her firm YCE, Inc. has been providing civil engineering and land surveying services to people across the spectrum – from professionals in Ventura County’s all-important agricultural industry to developers involved in building projects to residential homeowners improving their land. She discusses her love of science and engineering in Conversation.

The glitz and glamor of Hollywood rest on a variety of foundations, some of which are more mundane than marvelous. LaToya Coats (Profile) has found a thriving career in a niche most of us have probably never thought about. Park2Film specializes in coordinating parking and base camp operations for production companies filming on location. Coats makes sure entertainment industry professionals have all the space they need for makeup and wardrobe trailers, film equipment, craft services and other paraphernalia necessary for running a production. And when Coats does her job, filmmakers can get on with their job of making movie magic.

Anna Sosnicki of Anja’s Boutique (Style) found a niche of her own: fashionable apparel with European quality and style. Discerning customers appreciate Sosnicki’s exquisite taste, which she brings to both her Ventura Harbor Village shop and her recently released designer collection Anke.

There are many paths to success, and the women we spotlight this month have traveled a variety of roads to realize their dreams of career satisfaction and financial independence. With such inspiring individuals to show us the way, anything is possible.

– Nancy D. Lackey Shaffer