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WithIt Impacts the Industry's Views on Women
As industry legends go, WithIt’s is nothing if not colorful. Like most good stories that are told and re-told though, the exploits of 20 plus years ago has been somewhat embellished over the years. In the days before WithIt was formally founded by Jena Hall, Kimberley Wray and the late Peggy Traub, the first members were women in the industry who were searching for comradery and connections. And they indeed consumed luxury chocolates and good wine and shared experiences and insights late into the night.
 
From the beginning, the founders and earliest supporters of WithIt understood the power of story in moving people, the companies we worked for, our own businesses and our industry forward. It may be hard to imagine these days, but 21 years ago, there really were very, very few women in the furniture business, not counting, of course, receptionists, wives and shoeshine girls.
 
From the start, WithIt understood the power of sharing information and creating partnerships. It wasn’t long before those late-night sessions grew more formalized. We called it Competitive Intelligence, and in what has become a Market tradition, women (and men) from all areas of the business gather to share what they’ve seen and heard at Market. Soon, the sharing of information like this required moderators and microphones and there were panel discussions, and Education Breakfasts, seminars of every sort, design tours to New York, and then, entire conferences devoted to education and the elevation of women.
 
Educational opportunities over years were largely envisioned and led by women, and featured the likes of executive coach Kay Johnson, Johnson-West Associates, who taught us the finer points of networking. Agencies like Frank About Women shared insights into consumers, as did Kelly Peterson and her associates at Hearst and other publishing houses, along with hundreds more of the best and brightest, both inside our industry and out. Indeed, as WithIt’s platform grew over the years, so did the lengthy list of high-powered, inspirational speakers and topics from which we could learn in a supportive environment, honing and building our confidence and skill sets.
 
Slowly, but surely, WithIt has changed the face of the industry, developing hundreds of women into smart, passionate, motivated employees, executives and leaders through a community which helps keep talent in the industry.
 
This Market, we’re again providing education and networking opportunities to women across all segments of the industry where we will tell our stories and craft our businesses. And Competitive Intelligence will be included for the 22nd year, along with the powerful Education Breakfast and a brand-new event partnering with ASFD for Design Between the Lines (LIVE). We invite you to join us. And for more information about WithIt’s slate of Market events, please visit the Events page.
 
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Jana Platina Phipps



Home Couture Collective
I'm part of WithIt to have a direct "red phone" line to a brain bank of women with competitive intelligence, strategies, and problem solving experience--and to be at the other end of their red phones.
Together, we create powerful collective business momentum and our strengths can change the landscape of leadership in our industry to reflect sexual equality.
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