Women Helping Women
West Business Development Center was founded by women trying to make a difference in their community – teaching other women technical skills and giving the tools and capital to lift themselves out of poverty and to start small businesses.
While WestBDC has shifted its focus to offer free business advising and low-cost workshops to all business owners in Mendocino County, one of our core missions with our Women’s Business Center remains. Every month we bring together women from all over Mendocino County to come together and network. Our Mendopreneurs Empowerment Nights feature a speaker or host, who talks about their personal journey and a time for women business owners to get to know each other.
West’s April Mendopreneurs Empowerment night is hosted by, and features, Debra DeCarli as the speaker. DeCarli worked her way through law school and her Master’s program as a single mother of three. She later became law partners with — and then married — her law school classmate, Bob DeCarli. Based in Mendocino since 2010, DeCarli focused on complex litigation all over the country for more than fifteen years before moving to the Coast. In 2001 she, together with her husband, argued the civil rights case Atwater v. Lago Vista, 532 U.S. 318 before the Supreme Court – a case focused on the Fourth Amendment and arrests for misdemeanors which is still taught in first-year law syllabus across the U.S. today.
After she moved to Mendocino, Debra and Bob had a child shortly after Debra’s daughter had a baby and made Debra a grandmother. While adjusting to being a new mom and a new grandmother simultaneously, Debra applied her legal training to mastering the estate planning complexities unique to families with young children, non-traditional or blended families, and grandparents. In response to popular demand, Debra added business planning to her services offered and she now practices both on Main Street in Mendocino.
DeCarli notes, “Mendocino’s women business owners are willing to help one another succeed. The sense of community here is phenomenal.” In her view, women and men network differently. She believes events like these are a good way for women to talk about their work in a setting where they feel comfortable. “Women tend to be more reserved about putting themselves forward and tooting their own horns. Women don’t like to be regarded as “pushy” or “boastful.” We all need to give one another the confidence to unreservedly say we are great at what we do.”
Friday, April 26th
45100 Main St, Suite 1
Here how these women-owned businesses started, and grew their businesses with free advising from West: