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Lemons to lemonade feature #17: Jerrilynn B. Thomas

Wednesday, December 3, 2008
Jerrilynn B. Thomas, mother of three daughters, two currently in college, had to restructure her business in order to thrive in this troubling economy. She decided to shut down a business that was started in 2002, refocus, and launch a new business this year: WomenPartner International.

This relaunch and rebranding as Jerrilynn describes was to reinforce the company's commitment to helping women think collaboratively instead of individually when it comes to growing their company sales. WomenPartner International is now a cross marketing consortium for seasoned women who want to fast track their company sales to the million dollar range in five years by leveraging the client base of complementary companies. This mom entrepreneur seems to be on the fast track towards helping women succeed. Here is her story...

How has this economy affected you, your business and your family?
I founded an online women’s chamber, International Virtual Women’s Chamber of Commerce (IVWCC) in 2002. Due to the economy, I had to shift gears to continue generating an income. I needed to supplement my husband’s income since he was shifting gears by starting a new job that paid less than his previous job of 20 years. I decided to shut down my women’s chamber and launch a business consortium for women who wanted to pool their resources and thrive during this crappy economy.

How are you making lemonade from lemons?
The IVWCC was built on lifetime memberships. I provided one networking event and a monthly round-table as part of the membership. When people get accustomed to getting everything for a flat rate, they don’t always embrace the extras that are fee based. I decided that my bottom-line was just as important. After six years, I knew it was time to dissolve IVWCC and move forward with a new business model. Luckily my six years of hard work and promotion produced enough link partners, alliances, newsletter and blog subscribers, and search engine visibility that I was able to quickly shift gears and relaunch on the same day I dissolved IVWCC.

My business slogan for IVWCC was “smart women partner and grow rich!”. I decided to create a business consortium aptly named WomenPartner International for seasoned businesses and professional women who were interested in building high-powered cross marketing partnerships.

I was able to build upon an existing group of women who shared my belief that collaboration is the smartest way to generate a profit in a tough economy, instead of one-on-one selling. Women entrepreneurs who quickly embrace leveraging the client base of complementary companies while sharing marketing costs – ad space, expo booths, direct mail campaigns, joint PR campaigns, commercials, etc. - will be the ones who come out ahead when the economy corrects itself.

Any encouraging words you would like to offer mom entrepreneurs?
Don’t box yourself in with a business model that will restrict your revenue. Make cross marketing an integral part of your daily activities. This will stretch your budget and help you boost your client base while saving you time and money so you can focus on growing your business.

For more information, visit or You can also email Jerrilynn directly at