The WV Women Made Market, an organization dedicated to promoting entrepreneurship among women and girls across the state, are planning to host a community pool party and multiple fundraiser next month at Lakewood Pool in St. Albans.
WV Women Made Market officials have teamed with a number of businesses, community members and the current Mrs. West Virginia All Star United States, Sharlyn Schmitt, to provide 30 women and children from Rea of Hope’s sober living facilities free swimsuits, food and entrance to the party.
The Midsummer Night’s “Mask-uerade” Pool Party is scheduled for 7 to 10 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 1, at the pool at 2088 Lakewood Drive in St. Albans.
Carrie McClanahan, originally of Belle and now a Hurricane resident, founded and oversees the WV Women Made Market. She is also the owner/operator of McClanaHANDMADE, her own small business which offers natural body care products.
West Virginia Made hosts seasonal markets for professional makers and provides education, mentorship and economic opportunities for aspiring female Mountain State entrepreneurs.
“It all started as an in-person retail market,” McClanahan explained last week, “but it’s become 100% virtual.” An in-person market, scheduled for May 2 at Spa Bliss in Charleston was canceled due to COVID-19 precautions, for example, with hopes of having an in-person spring event in 2021. “Of course, obviously, it’s subject to change with everything going on now,” she said.
“I also have a very extensive history in event management,” McClanahan said. “I sort of put those interests together and developed a market. I have made good relationships with women around the state as a vendor.”
All of the WV Women Made Market vendors are from the Mountain State, ranging from the Eastern Panhandle to Beckley and other locations.
“The market has become so super successful that it’s an ongoing, daily group,” McClanahan said. “It sort of functions as an Etsy, but everyone remains the owners of their own domain. I’m basically the landlord of the group.
“The pool party happened very organically,” she said. “The opportunity came before COVID-19.”
She said she drew from her employment history to make the party a fundraiser for the Rea of Hope organization.
“Another job I had was with a local addiction recovery center,” McClanahan said. “I was director of vocational advancement. ... That field never really left me, and I’ve been blessed, through some very hard work, to have this platform. I wanted to reach out to a women’s addiction recovery facility. I met with [Rea of Hope Executive Director] Marie Beaver and [Rea of Hope Program Manager] Brittany Wolfe, and we hit it off.”
Proceeds will go toward the WV Women Made Market operations and to help cover medical bills for a vendor’s mother who had surgery recently due to complications from breast cancer.
“All entrance ticket sales and all profits from a raffle for a cornhole board are going to one of my vendors for her surgery,” McClanahan said. “My heart is to really to repay people who have helped me as a startup organization.”
Other proceeds will go toward buying clothing and items for Rea of Hope residents and their children during an upcoming visit to a Kanawha City retailer, she added.
The Joey’s Rockin’ Dogs and Tacos food truck will be at the party and will donate 30% of its proceeds to the fundraiser, McClanahan said. Coal River Coffee Company of St. Albans is also scheduled to have beverages and other items for purchase.
A Vendor Village is scheduled to be on site during the event. At press time, scheduled vendors include: Triple B’s Boutique, The Mountain Jewel of West Virginia, M.E. Designs, Creek Walkers, Country Roads Canning Co., Duncan’s Maids, The Baked Flamingo, Lexi LaRaye Clay (J.R. Market), Odyssey Skincare, and Haute Wick Social. A junior market, featuring the art and other handiworks of female middle and high school students, is also being organized for the party.
Sweetening the event will be 12 dozen mini- cupcake donations from St. Albans-based Lil’ Bit of Heaven Cupcakes, as well as free smoothies from South Charleston-based True Juice for the first 20 guests.
A 20-foot water slide, from Quantum Party Rentals, will be available for participants to make a literal splash, and local DJ Nick Scott will provide music, she said.
McClanahan said she and the other pool party organizers are aware of the COVID-19 concerns, which, in part, is an inspiration behind the “Mask-uerade” theme.
“You can take it as a theme party or actually wear a [protective] mask to feel more confident, too. We’re taking things seriously,” she said.
McClanahan’s husband has made colored bracelets for each attendee, as well, to encourage proper social distancing.
“They’re in cancer awareness colors: purple, pink and black,” she explained. “Wearing the purple bracelet will mean, ‘I’m here for hugs;’ the pink bracelet will mean, ‘We can chat but keep your mask on;’ and black will mean, ‘I’m not really into talking.’”
To learn more, visit www.wemakewv.com or the Rea of Hope Facebook page.
“My heart is to use the WV Women Made Market to empower women and have girls grow up to be strong, independent business people,” McClanahan said. “My 10-year plan is for this to be national. I want every state to have a Women Made Market, with several chapters inside each state. I’ve had interest from people in Texas and the Midwest who are interested in doing something similar. Right now, it’s a matter of getting the foundation in place.”