“Empowered Women Empowered Women” was the mantra that started it all for three Mayfield High School graduates who recently started the Woman Up Cleveland community organization.
Shannon Biega and Chloey DiBartolo, who both graduated from high school in 2018, were supported by Alex Ruggieri, a 2017 graduate, in early 2021 to form their organization’s leadership team.
Woman Up Cleveland aims to bring women from the Cleveland area together to share knowledge, support women-owned businesses, and support one another as they celebrate their strength and diversity.
The three are currently planning the first Woman Up Cleveland event, which will be held on July 11th at the Ariel International Center, 1163 East 40th St. in Cleveland.
The event will be attended by 25 women-run companies from the greater Cleveland area to showcase their products to attendees. Together with the vendors, event visitors can take part in various activities such as T-shirt making and experience the work of local live mural artist Abby Dillon.
Some participating companies are The Posh Pet Boutique from Mentor, Chagrin Falls Popcorn Shop, and Gold Arrow Studios from Avon. For those looking for an interactive and perhaps spiritual experience, Theresa Argie of Haunted Housewife of Willoughby will be giving tarot card and crystal readings at the event.
“It’s definitely a wide variety of articles and a variety of women from different backgrounds and walks of life doing amazing things,” Ruggieri said, and we definitely have different levels of experience and seniority and things within these companies that make for some different experiences.
“Everyone has something different to bring to the table somehow.”
Biega agreed, saying it was one of her goals as she sought and selected vendors to ensure that the Woman Up Cleveland meeting is an inclusive and diverse environment for both the products and the business owners.
âWe don’t all want the same kind of sellers – like we don’t want five candy sellers. We don’t want all sellers to belong to a specific demographic, âsaid Biega. “We want a fair mix so that our salespeople fully represent all women in the Cleveland area.”
The three Mayfield residents said the inspiration for starting Woman Up Cleveland came from a vision board that Biega created in late 2020 under the direction of a mentor.
The main message of the board was: “Empowered Women Empowered Women”.
DiBartolo said she saw a picture of the vision board on social media and was “automatically inspired”.
“I absolutely loved the news,” she said.
DiBartolo explained that the message of empowerment got her thinking about what an event might look like based on that message and quickly reached out to Biega, her friend since kindergarten, to get the ball rolling.
The two thought it was a great idea to try and connect women from the Cleveland area through a big event – especially after a year in the midst of the pandemic when many often felt separated and alone.
Soon they asked another longtime friend, Ruggieri, to help plan – and Woman Up Cleveland was born.
“We’re so excited,” said DiBartolo. “We’re so proud of how far we’ve come, especially since February when we all got together.”