Jenny Bazzetta and Stephanie Yu are preparing to host an event that they wish they’d been invited to when they were starting their businesses.
“There are so many women with small handmade and craft businesses and not a lot of opportunities,” said Bazzetta, who makes and sells handcrafted confections through her business, BonBon Bombardier.
“Business is hard; we need to support one another,” said Yu, a vendor of vintage clothing and accessories who owns Wilder Bag Co.
So the two women asked about 30 women business owners to join them from 5-9:30 p.m. Aug. 4 at the Pikes Peak Market, 315 E. Pikes Peak Ave., for an evening of marketing, networking, art, live music and fellowship.
Bazzetta said the First Friday event will showcase “women in business who are really standing out and doing something different,” including ecofriendly and locally handmade or handsourced products.
“We feel like there is enough of a market out there, and we want to reflect sustainability and diversity in age, race, culture and economic status,” Yu said.
The two hope that the event will help support not just women business owners but also give a boost to the Pikes Peak Market, where each has a pop-up shop.
The market, which has been in the works for several years, first opened in November at 9 S. Weber St. After another move, the market set up in June at 315 E. Pikes Peak Ave. A grand opening in the new space is being planned for September.
About a dozen businesses now have tables or booths at the market, which is open Thursdays through Sundays from 10 a.m.-5 p.m., according to its website.
Bazzetta said she and her husband worked in the food business in St. Louis when they returned to the United States after living abroad.
“I was working as an artisan chocolatier, making European-style sweets,” Bazzetta said. Her husband made and sold Filipino and Japanese dishes through a food truck.
They moved to Colorado Springs in December 2015 after deciding it would be a great place to pursue their other interests, including backpacking.
“I saw a lot of space for an artisan confectioner that does unusual things,” Bazzetta said. One of her offerings at BonBon Bombardier is panforte, an Italian confection made of dried fruit, honey, nuts and spices — “the earliest energy bar,” she said.
BonBon Bombardier was launched in May 2017. Bazzetta was having success marketing her candies through local shops such as Radiantly Raw in Manitou Springs and the Ivywild farmers market, and was taking orders online through her website, but didn’t think she was ready for a brick-and-mortar store.
“We’re renting kitchen space and a booth here at Pikes Peak Market,” she said, adding that she’s on the verge of profitability now.
Yu has a background in the fashion industry and worked full time as an accountant until she’d saved enough money to start Wilder Bag Co. six months ago.
Yu said she has always loved designer bags and backpacks and was looking at her collection one day when it occurred to her that other people would love to buy them, too.
She started selling vintage Coach and Louis Vuitton bags on her Etsy site, and branched out into the clothing, shoes and other items she offers at her Pikes Peak Market pop-up store. She’s looking to add a line of locally made bags.
“A lot of people ask, ‘What’s your real job?’” said Yu, who still does some side work providing accounting and consulting services. “That is a reflection of our culture, that what we love to do can’t support us.”
Bazzetta added that’s where supporting each other comes in.
Bazzetta and Yu met on Instagram and hit it off when Yu came to visit Bazzetta’s store.
Since then, they have been anchors at the market and have helped to bring in First Friday entertainment including poetry groups, artists, an open mic night and a salsa dance teacher.
“We are trying to make this both a cultural space and an incubator for small business,” Bazzetta said. “It has been a work in progress, and now it’s starting to blossom.”
The two named the event Females of the Future and invited women vendors to reserve a space for the Aug. 4 event through Instagram, Facebook ads and posts, email and flyers. They closed applications two weeks ago.
“We have had such a great response for this event,” Bazzetta said. “Women in Colorado Springs are really testing the market, trying to do something different, and itching to have a community of people who can work together.”