What We Do

The mission of REI Women’s Business Center is to assist Oklahoma’s enterprising women wanting to explore the opportunities of starting or expanding a business.

REI WBC provides one-on-one business counseling, access to capital, quality business training opportunities and technical assistance. We are proud to operate Oklahoma’s only Women’s Business Center, a place where women gain support, encouragement, strength, answers and celebrate success. REI WBC has reached more than 25,000 entrepreneurs since opening its doors and we look forward to many more years of service.

REI WBC is the result of a cooperative agreement with the SBA’s Office of Women’s Business Ownership and REI Oklahoma. Through dedicated partners and volunteers, we continue to increase our impact across the state. REI Oklahoma is an equal opportunity employer.

Our primary focus is to provide quality business training opportunities, access to capital, resources, referrals and technical assistance to support women entrepreneurs.

Approximately 150 training workshops and networking events are offered annually throughout the state. We provide training on a variety of business topics to help women become more successful.  Topics include entrepreneurship, financing, marketing, business planning, ecommerce, social networking, business taxes, website development, and more. View our calendar…

Regular networking events provide business owners a place to share ideas and resources and foster business to business relationships. REI WBC clients also receive free business counseling and publicity through REI WBC marketing efforts. Contact us  if you would like to schedule an appointment.

Whether in the idea-stage of starting a new venture or in growth phase of a well-established company, REI WBC is here to help and ready when you are.

Dr. Barbara Rackley
Program Manager
Serving southeastern Oklahoma with statewide over site
brackley@reiok.org

Jennifer Edwards
Coordinator
Serving western Oklahoma & OKC metro
jedwards@reiok.org

Lori Smith
Assistant
lsmith@reiok.org

Arbuckle Wedding Chapel

arbuckle weddingYou are in the middle of developing your business, even building a facility, when the unforeseen knocks the wind out of you and your plan. Now what do you do?

That’s what happened to Joan Bratcher when she was building the Arbuckle Wedding Chapel in Davis, Oklahoma. The former educator found herself on the other side of the learning spectrum. She didn’t know anything about selecting a builder or engineers, and she was totally unprepared when the fire marshal could not approve the architectural engineering. She was also informed that she needed evacuation plans, special doors, and signs and still had other construction requirements to meet. “I almost quit,” she said.

But, she didn’t quit. Her entrepreneurial spirit kicked in again. She met all the requirements and tapped into good resources, like REI Women’s Business Center (WBC). Here she was encouraged, met other women entrepreneurs, received quality training and made valuable contacts. She also learned the importance of a sound business plan which she reviews regularly. The WBC also opened up the world of the famous Dallas Market and she is now a buyer, something she says she could never have accomplished on her own.

For more info about this business, visit www.arbuckleweddingchapel.com

 

Workman Forensics

leah wietholter, cfeSave for the 19th century pipe and monocle, Leah Wietholter is a modern day Sherlock Holmes. As a Certified Fraud Examiner, licensed private investigator, and owner of Workman Forensics in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Leah Wietholter solves the mystery of the missing money for her clients. And as with most great adventures, Leah’s began with humble means and great potential.

While working for the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Wietholter discovered an interest and talent for a profession rarely ventured by women: forensic accounting. Following employment with the FBI, Wietholter worked in public accounting for two years further specializing in this field as a Senior Certified Fraud Examiner. With nothing but invaluable experience and determination, Wietholter developed the concept for Workman Forensics, and within three months, the business was up and running in an appropriately unique office on 15th Street.

A participant and guest speaker with REI Women’s Business Center workshops, Wietholter loves being an entrepreneur in Oklahoma and actively participating in the community by volunteering with non-profit organizations such as Junior Achievement of Oklahoma and the Resonance Center for Women. Wietholter also serves as President for the Tulsa Chapter of the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners, a member of the ACFE Chapter Awards Committee and a member of the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners Advisory Board.

During 2012, Wietholter was the City of Tulsa Mayor’s Commission on the Status of Women and the Tulsa Women’s Foundation Pinnacle Award recipient for business/corporate. Workman Forensics was nominated for both the Bixby Chamber of Commerce Small Business of the Year and New Business of the Year awards.

To learn more about Leah’s successful business, visit www.workmanforensics.com.

 

Granny’s Good Ol’ Fashion Bacon Drippings

granny's bacon drippingsBacon drippings gained a lot of credibility as a food seasoning when Granny’s Good Ol’ Fashion Bacon Drippings placed in the SpiritBank/Tulsa Community College Entrepreneurial Spirit Award competition. Jan Laub, owner of Twin Foods, Inc., took home a $5,000 prize.  Narrowed down from nearly 100 applicants, finalists spent the last six months pitching their business models while receiving coaching from Tulsa business leaders during four rounds of judging.

Laub said the idea for the product came to her after a gumbo recipe called for a cup of bacon grease.  “I didn’t have bacon grease and I sure didn’t want to fry a bunch of bacon just to get the grease so I checked in grocery stores to see if there was such a thing as pre-packaged bacon grease.  I didn’t find any – now I knew there was a market for it.”

That’s when Laub began her market research and found the right connections to help her launch her business. One of those connections was REI Women’s Business Center (REI WBC) .  She received assistance with her business plan, attended REI WBC training workshops, networked at REI WBC events and was put in touch with Oklahoma State University‘s Food & Agricultural Products Center.  The Center helped her with a nutrition label and water activity testing to determine shelf life.  OSU also contacted co-packers to produce and package the product.

For bacon drippings to place in a competition may be a bit surprising in our health-conscious, fat-cutting culinary world.  But, Granny’s Good Ol’ Fashion Bacon Drippings is a high-quality rendered bacon fat that adds smoky flavor to dishes, and according to Laub, it has less cholesterol and less saturated fat than cooking with butter, and there is zero transfat.  Neither does it contain sodium because it is smoked before curing.

“We were so happy to celebrate Jan’s award-winning success and even more pleased to see her product on the shelf at Utica Square, Petty’s Fine Foods, Reasor’s Grocery Stores and other markets,” Dr. Barbara Rackley, WBC Program Manager said.  “Jan’s success is a great example of what can happen when entrepreneurs receive the assistance they need from all of Oklahoma’s outstanding resources.”

For more information and recipes, visit Granny’s Good Ol’ Fashion Bacon Drippings at www.TwinFoods.com or find her on facebook, Granny’s Bacon Drippings.

 

The Umbrella

UmbrellaLaura Clark found herself in a very difficult and challenging situation. Life had thrown her a curve and she needed to be able to support herself and make plans for the future. “I needed something for the second part of my life,” Laura said. “I knew I wanted to be a link in the next generational chain, one child at a time. A plan came to me for an after school, total child center providing a safe and fun learning environment, but I had no business experience.”

In 2002, she began attending training workshops at REI’s Women’s Business Center (WBC) in Durant. “I had heard about business plans but didn’t know one thing about them,” said Laura.

Laura’s idea turned into THE UMBRELLA, a child development center with a whole new concept. She would provide traditional education in a nontraditional setting. Laura said the business name originated from Psalm 91 which refers to “God’s umbrella of love and protection.” It was a fitting name since her mission was to provide a safe learning environment for children.

THE UMBRELLA began as an after-school tutoring service and now offers fitness training for 3rd through 6th graders, summer school, attitude and enrichment activities, art, voice/piano lessons and services to children with Dyslexia. Her students also had the opportunity to be part of Laura’s newest venture, a children’s book.

THE UMBRELLA is located at 310 West Main, downtown Durant. The business employs 10 certified teachers and serves 50 children per week.