Entrepreneurial Women Are Bolstering the Berkshires

Here in the Berkshires, we are blessed with a community of innovators and entrepreneurs who have helped build, guide, and drive the regional economy for generations. As we focus specifically on women in business this month, it’s important that we similarly recognize the vibrant culture of women entrepreneurs that are here, right now, creating incredible businesses and opportunities in the region. These women are creating products, becoming thought leaders, and playing integral roles in the regional economic ecosystem. With that in mind, we’d like to shine a spotlight on some of the incredible women with whom we’ve had the pleasure of engaging and working in a variety of capacities at 1Berkshire, to help highlight the great things they are bringing to reality.

Berkshire Starts is a program that 1Berkshire has operated for several years. Through a suite of programs including Get Mentored, Business Bootcamp, and Entrepreneurial Meetups, we’ve had the opportunity to interact with and help support a number of entrepreneurs. Lorraine Jones is a perfect example of the incredible female entrepreneurs who have participated in our programs and made their idea a reality. Whether it’s serving delicious BBQ from her restaurant, (Smokey Diva’s) on Onota Street in Pittsfield, or selling their fantastic array of BBQ sauces at grocery and specialty stores across the region and beyond, Lorraine epitomizes what it means to be a successful entrepreneur on the rise, and she’s done it right here in the Berkshires. 

With so much going on in the Berkshires, it can be easy to accidentally overlook the entrepreneurs and innovators who are here alongside us. We’d guess that one such example of a hidden juggernaut is Lisa Chamberlain and her company, the Chamberlain Group. Many folks don’t realize that a company that has literally changed the face of medical training was founded in Great Barrington in 1999, where it continues to innovate to this day. Bringing together expertise in the creative arts, medical science, engineering, and more, their team’s mimetic organs and surgical training devices have likely saved thousands of lives by helping train medical doctors on lifelike organs and materials before they set foot in an operating room. With Lisa’s prowess and true entrepreneurial mindset at the helm, The Chamberlain Group is a company that has effectively changed an entire field across the globe through innovative practices developed here in the Berkshires.

In addition to an ecosystem that helps entrepreneurs develop here in the Berkshires, we also have a unique pull that helps to bring those with an entrepreneurial attitude and approach to us from other parts of the world. Becca Perea-Kane is one such transplant. As the owner and operator of Thicket Jewelry, Becca recently moved her life and business into the City of North Adams, where she and her partner now live. We met Becca as she landed here through our Economic Development office consultations, and then through our Berkshire Starts Entrepreneurial Meetups. By creating her unique botanical and natural item-based jewelry, Becca has not only started a wonderful creative business, but she has been able to move back to the Berkshires where she attended college. It’s a prime example of an entrepreneur creating the opportunity of flexibility to live, work, and play in this place we call home.

In every corner of the Berkshires, we have incredible female entrepreneurs doing fantastic, imaginative, and world-changing things. Each of them is making their way in this world, and is strengthening the Berkshire economy in the process. These women are a potent force for growth and economic development both on a local and global stage, and we hope you will join us in celebrating them, and all of our women entrepreneurs, as part of this Women in Business Month!

Photos (top to bottom) courtesy: Smokey Diva’s / The Chamberlain Group / Thicket

Special thanks to our presenting sponsor: Greylock Federal Credit Union

Special thanks to our media sponsor: BusinessWest

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