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Despite Women's March Controversy, Female Entrepreneurs Plan to Show Up

Entrepreneurs say women need to stick together -- now more than ever.

The 2017 Women's March in Washington, D.C., may have been the largest single-day protest in U.S. history. Two years later, millions remain inspired by what it's accomplished--but after controversial revelations about some of the march's co-founders surfaced in December, some women are feeling ambivalent about participating.

Vanessa Wruble, one of the organizers, said she felt forced out of the organization because of anti-Semitism on the part of fellow organizer Tamika Mallory. While the march organizers have issued statements denouncing anti-Semitism, the allegations have tarnished the event in the minds of some female founders. "I don't have the bandwidth right now to research what the issue is, and whether it's real or not," says Jenn LeBlanc, founder of 10-person marketing agency ThinkResults. She marched last year, but this year says, "I wouldn't want to be associated with anti-Semitism."

Jeni Britton Bauer, founder of Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams, with about 1,200 employees seasonally, sees support for women as a defining characteristic of her business. On February 2, Britton Bauer will be donating all profits from Ice Cream for Breakfast Day to not-for-profit She Should Run, which aims to convince more women to run for elected office. Britton Bauer marched in Washington last year, calling it "healing and inspiring," and says a group of employees will march in Columbus this year. Says Britton Bauer: "It's time to refocus and remember there is only forward."

Also enthusiastic is Jill Angelo, the founder of 10-person Genneve, which recently launched the first online clinic for women in menopause. "I'm going to one-hundred-percent march this year!" she says. "Last year, I marched because I was pissed off at our national government. This year, I march because I have hope."

Angelo, as well as several other women, mentioned the historical success of women in the midterm elections as a galvanizing factor. "We have to maintain momentum after the stunning midterm wins," says Eileen Scully, founder of consulting and advisory service the Rising Tides. "We have to show solidarity with each other."

Others, dismayed by the charges leveled at the march's organizers, are marching in an effort to show that women must stay united and focused on their quest for equality. "One of the core factors in suppressing women has been to keep us from coming together and joining forces," says Kate Isler, founder of Be Bold Seattle, which produces an annual event in Seattle celebrating local women. Like it or not, Isler says, the march organizers are highly visible leaders of the women's rights movement, and must find a way to continue to collaborate. "The heart and soul of the movement was to bring women together," she says. "All women."
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