Conference brings women in community together


An event designed to give women an opportunity to enrich their lives and broaden their experiences recently drew more than 180 people to Brownstown.

The Jackson County Women’s Conference, organized by the Greater Seymour Chamber of Commerce, is not conducted annually, but the most recent one April 26 was the seventh since the first one in 2007.

“The idea of this event began around 10 years ago when we saw the need for some way to bring women in the community together,” Gerri Smith said. “Our hope is that women will leave here feeling empowered.”

Smith, who will be retiring in December as the chamber’s membership services director, said having the event during National Administrative Professionals Week draws in more women. Several local businesses had tables for their female employees to show appreciation for their hard work throughout the year.

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The conference at Pewter Hall featured about 25 vendor booths, breakfast and lunch, door prizes and guest speakers who shared about their journeys to success.

All of this year’s speakers were Jackson County natives.

Dr. Steve Windley of Seymour started off the conference with his presentation. He shared how he decided to switch his major during his junior year of college as he tried to envision how he could one day motivate people to improve their health.

Windley said people tend to be happier and more successful when they have a positive outlook and create specific goals. Also, the focus should be on preventive care as a balance of mind, body and spirit.

“Patients might say they want to lose weight and feel better,” he said. “However, if they say they want to lose a certain amount of pounds by a specific date that is realistic, they’re more likely to succeed.”

Brandy Hampton, owner of B.loved boutique in Seymour, was next up.

Hampton graduated from Brownstown Central High School and married her high school sweetheart, Nicholas Hampton.

She began her career in fashion in 2009 after accepting a position working with renowned evening gown designer Sherri Hill in 2009.

“I began as her assistant working in her Atlanta showroom, and then became more involved and took on more responsibilities as time went on,” Hampton said. “I did everything from being in customer service for her boutiques across the world that carry her collection to working her New York fashion week shows.”

Hampton said she worked for the designer up until the day she opened her Seymour business in 2013. She realized her success would come from where her heart was — at home in Jackson County.

Conference attendees Jessica Croquart and Ashley MacTavish both said they enjoyed the event.

“This is my first time attending the conference,” MacTavish said. “I enjoyed hearing Brandy speak. She took care of the entire bridal party for my wedding.”

Croquart was attending the conference for the second time. She also had gone to Hampton for her wedding needs and said the customer service was great and everything was perfect.

Guest speaker Alisa Kilgas Wright grew up in Dudleytown. She was on hand to share her story with attendees and emphasized the importance of being the best person you can be and spoke about how everyone is unique.

Wright currently lives in Bloomington and is the founder and CEO of BioConvergence LLC, which was rebranded last year and is now known as Singota Solutions.

The company is focused on helping clients in the pharmaceutical, animal health and biotechnology industries move their products faster with quality, speed and transparency.

“You are better for others if sometimes you let them do for you,” Wright said. “Remember to share the best you and celebrate each other’s successes.”

After lunch, fitness expert Becky Schepman talked about the importance of exercise and had attendees get up and move, doing some stretching exercises.

Born and raised in Seymour, Schepman is the executive director of Seymour Main Street, a revitalization program for the historic downtown.

“Do exercises you love,” Schepman said. “Having an exercise buddy helps, too, because of the accountability.”

The keynote speaker was Teri Moren, who is in her third season as the Indiana University women’s basketball head coach and was the 2016 Big Ten Coach of the Year.

Moren graduated from Seymour High School and earned her bachelor’s degree from Purdue University in therapeutic recreation.

“My parents were the best coaches I ever had,” said Moren, whose father also was in attendance at the conference. “Mom was the head coach, and Dad was more like the associate head coach.”

Moren said she was humbled to be among so many strong women at the conference, and she felt honored to work with the girls on her team.

She wants to empower them and let them know they can accomplish anything they want to achieve.

“The main thing I’d like you to remember today is that women need to help other women more,” Moren said. “Encourage each other in your passions, in your fields and help each other grow to be better women.”

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