As we open our season with the musical Little Women based on the beloved Louisa May Alcott novel, we were inspired by Jo March who followed her dreams to the career and life she wanted. So we decided to celebrate some local women who also had the courage and strength to follow their dreams.
These are determined women who mean business.
Meet Jodi Groonwald, owner of Pack & Ship And More in Hartford, WI.
Jodi has a degree in Business Administration with an emphasis on small business from UW LaCrosse. She has held various sales positions in the companies she has worked for leading up to her starting her own Pack & Ship business. One of her favorite places is the ballpark watching her children in whatever sport it is for the season, and attending Green Bay Packer games.
[LCP]: What advice would you give to young women who want to succeed in the workplace or start their own businesses?
[JODI]: Cliche I know, but don't let anything or anyone stand in your way. I was raised a "girl", meaning I wore dresses everyday, I cooked, I cleaned, I did not hunt, and I did not work on the cars, I was a girl. Maybe I was stubborn, maybe I was naive, maybe it was the five brothers, I never saw the barriers or ceilings. When I saw something I wanted to do, I did it. Going to college wasn't a question, it was a given. (I was the first in my entire extended family to attend college.) I have always believed, and have taught my children, that there are amazing opportunities out there for everyone, if you want it, go get it. It might take work, but it is out there for everyone.
What was your dream job as a kid and why?
Dreams change... In the 7th grade I thought I wanted to be a teacher, in the 9th grade I thought I wanted own my own restaurant, in college I decided to be an accountant. Then I took cost accounting and kept seeing myself in a little room with a pencil sharpener and paper. That is when I decided that I would own my own business, not sure what kind, but my own. A lot of life happened for some years, but I finally opened my own business about 11 years ago - an independent shipping store, Pack & Ship and More. The dream was to work for myself, for my family.
What do you think is the most significant barrier to female leadership?
I don't think this is the popular answer, but our most significant barrier is ourselves. We have to have the confidence to do what we know we can and just do it. Don't blame others, don't look for special treatment, work hard and you can achieve anything.
What woman/women inspire(s) you and why?
I am inspired by and admire my Mom, Condoleezza Rice, Ellen DeGeneres. These three women could not be from more opposite ends of the spectrum, but they all have admirable qualities. My Mom, for always being there, supporting us while running her own business and taking care of the family. Condoleezza Rice presents herself professionally and proudly. Ellen is a genuine caring person, and quite hysterical. These three very different women show how you can be successful all while being true to yourself and who you are.
What will be the biggest challenge for the generation of women behind you?
Again, I believe a woman's biggest challenge is mostly internal. Being a woman should never get in your way of accomplishing your goals, believe in yourself and you can do anything!
Pack & Ship And More is located at 1366 W Sumner Avenue in Hartford, WI, just north of Lake Country Playhouse.