Entrepreneurial Risks Reap Rewards for Gig Economy Women

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When Reina Terry’s oldest daughter was preparing to leave for college, Reina felt compelled to give what she refers to as “the ole’ college speech,” urging her to follow her dreams. But Reina, who had worked as an office assistant for nearly two decades, realized that the person actually deserving of that lecture was herself.

Reina knew that she had great party-organizing skills but had never taken the leap to turn her hobby into a career. “A friend from the neighborhood where I grew up (in Bayview) told me about a Women's Entrepreneurship program starting up at the Renaissance Entrepreneurship Center, and that with my talent it would be a great idea for me to come check it out,” Reina explains. She enrolled in the classes in hopes of making her dream a reality. Now, two years later, Reina is founder and CEO of PartyHapps.

Reina is one of many women who are self-employed and earn a living through the “gig economy” - combining entrepreneurial efforts and contract work to make a living. Growing numbers of women are seeking out gig work to increase their income, have a flexible schedule, and find satisfaction in their work. According to a recent survey of 1,000 women in the gig economy, 44% cited flexibility as the top reason for self-employment, a reason that Reina herself gives as the defining factor in allowing her to spend time with her children without compromising her employment.

Reina loves running her own business and schedule, explaining, “I totally appreciate the flexibility of being able to go see plays and sports games at my young daughter's school without having to worry whether or not I'd be jeopardizing my employment by taking off the time to support my family’s activities.” She’s particularly grateful that she found a supportive network of fellow entrepreneurs, touting one of her favorite sayings, “teamwork makes the dream work.”

Taking that leap of faith as an entrepreneur can be very challenging at times and sometimes we just need a little nudge or friendly reminder from someone whom we trust to bring us out of having those feelings of discouragement.”

Nationwide, businesses founded and run by women have increased by 58% since 2007, according to the 2018 American Express State of Women-Owned Businesses Report. But Reina is part of a particularly successful subset, Latina women, who have seen their numbers grow by an impressive 172%. Unfortunately as minority women-owned businesses have grown in number, they have shrunk in revenue, from an average of $84,100 down to $66,400. PartyHapps has given Reina more financial stability: “I have quickly learned that entrepreneurship requires multiple streams of income and that I will be able to utilize my gifts through these different avenues as long as I plan well and execute accordingly.” Reina has supplemented her income from PartyHapps with rideshare driving to stay afloat in the expensive Bay Area.

Reina is now modeling the chase-your-dreams lifestyle that she wishes for her daughters, and she takes pride in her work. She hopes that more women will take the plunge and pursue their own entrepreneurial efforts, especially because supporting each other will lead to more success for all. She urges, “Surround yourself with like-minded people so that you can feed off of each others’ ambitious energies and perpetuate a challenge to become greater.” Maybe Reina has a personal stake in their success too - all of those successful women entrepreneurs will be needing help coordinating their office parties and anniversary celebrations in the future.

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