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.

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Meet Whitney Shneyder, owner of Rustic Manor 1848 in Delafield.

Whitney holds degrees in Dietetics & Culinary Arts where she was able to cultivate her deep passion for the hospitality industry. Growing up she would meticulously plan tea parties and play dates with friends, not knowing her love for subtle event details would someday lead to wedding planning. 

[LCP]: What advice would you give to young women who want to succeed in the workplace or start their own businesses?
[WHITNEY]: Don't be afraid to talk about your dreams with anyone and everyone. You never know how simply talking about your new business with others can bring about new ideas or open up opportunities for your business to become successful. Rely on your community to support you and in return, treat your neighbors like family. They're the ones who will help build you up during the first few years. 

What was your dream job as a kid and why?
I always wanted to be a singer. The dream inside my head that had me center stage on one of my favorite Broadway musicals was what kept me excited about the future. Too bad a serious case of stage fright kept that dream from happening but I think I found a pretty great fall back option.

What do you think is the most significant barrier to female leadership?
I've found that pairing a young age with being a female business owner is a very difficult combination. There were many moments during the start up process where I knew I wasn't being taken seriously. I started researching how to improve my communication skills and focused on how I phrased sentences to make my idea/statement/inquiry less of a request and more of a "this is what I need". Once I found a more confident and straight forward voice, I noticed a difference in how I was being talked to as if now I actually knew what I was talking about! I've learned that if I feel as if I'm not being respected or treated how I feel I should be, I make a point to take my business elsewhere. Collaborating with other like-minded people can make or break the start up process. 


What woman/women inspire(s) you and why?My mother will forever be my biggest inspiration. My entrepreneurship drive was rooted in me early as I grew up playing between my parents legs under their desk. I watched them start their company in the basement of my childhood home and it wasn't until high school where I really started to realize how much they sacrificed in order to maintain a successful business and family life. I get my toughness from my mother and my creativeness from my father. Without my mother always being there to challenge me, build my confidence or turn my mistakes into learning opportunities, I would't be half the business woman that I am today. She's pretty awesome and there's not a day that passes that I don't hope to be half as awesome as she still is. 

What will be the biggest challenge for the generation of women behind you?
I fear the biggest challenge for women right now is understanding that you need to be highly skilled across multiple areas in order to get a leg up on other hopeful entrepreneurs. I've noticed a number of young hopefuls focus all their attention into mastering one skill set, leaving them vulnerable when that skill requires a creative application they aren't used to. My advice would be to take your younger working years and try a multitude of jobs; at least half unrelated to the career path you think you want to be on. Take one new skill away from each job and add it to the arsenal of things you're now better at doing. When it comes time to take on your dreams, you'll be ready to defeat any problem (and there will be many) that pops up and tries to stop you.  

Rustic Manor 1848 is located at 3115 State Road 83, just south west of Lake Country Playhouse.