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For every bottle of Alikay Naturals that Rochelle Graham-Campbell sells, she says it's a reminder for her to keep pushing - for all women. (Courtesy photo)

Celebrating women who empower our community

It’s International Women’s Day, a day of honor for the economic and cultural achievements of women across the globe, and at WINK News, we’re celebrating the women who empower Southwest Florida.

We spoke to women entrepreneurs and business owners in our community about their mission to inspire girls every day.

For every bottle of Fort Myers-based Alikay Naturals that Rochelle Graham-Campbell sells, she says it’s a reminder for her to keep pushing – for all women.

“Female entrepreneurs are growing more than any other category and group, and yet that support is not always there that is necessary for women-led businesses to win and so that glass ceiling still exists.”

Part of her business plan is to educate and inspire women.

Lillie Rentz likes that and tries to do the same thing as the manager at Airglades International Airport in Hendry County. The mission is to make it a cargo commercial airport.

Rentz is also a pilot.

“If there’s any message that I could tell other women today, it’s just to be that woman who props other women up and literally give them wings for flight.”

Any woman will tell that on the journey to success, there are a lot of challenges. Joann Elardo can name a few. She’s the founder of Wicked Dolphin Distillery and the Cape Coral Animal Shelter.

She likes making a dent in businesses traditionally dominated by men.

“We still don’t get paid the same; it’s crazy, don’t understand that. We still can’t borrow money probably as easy as a man can. There’s a lot of things that you don’t really want to see until you’re trying to open up a business, so it’s frustrating but hopefully, we’re breaking down those problems.”

As a relationship and mental health counselor, Dr. April Brown knows many of the pressures women face.

This International Women’s Day means a lot to her.

“One of the things that it means to me is that as women, we need to have time for self-care, it’s OK to take care of ourselves. I know we give a lot and give a lot but it’s OK sometimes to have self-care.”

Elardo’s message to you is, “If somebody’s doing it, you can do it. Have faith in yourself and don’t take no for an answer.”

That’s good advice for any woman, no matter what she chooses to do.

International Women’s Day, held every year on March 8, dates back to 1911.

Reporter:Brea Hollingsworth
Writer:Jackie Winchester
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