“A Place for us to Grow and Blossom”: Celebrating the WESST Atrium Mural Completion
By Katie Knipe | March 27, 2023
On March 9, 2023, WESST hosted a Ribbon Cutting ceremony to celebrate the completion of a two-story, 408-square-foot mural, designed and painted by New Mexico artist and former WESST client, Jodie Herrera. The mural features the images of three WESST clients, Carmen Bolivar, Ndidiamaka Okpareke and Alyssa Begay. All four women were present at the March 9 Ribbon Cutting to share remarks about their experiences as small business owners, and what it means to them to be portrayed on this mural.
WESST wanted the design to reflect our mission to be a home to New Mexicans starting or growing a business, and we couldn’t be more thrilled with the result. We know that for years to come, WESST clients will visit the WESST Enterprise Center and feel uplifted and inspired by the images of three resilient, successful businesswomen in our community.
Visit WESST’s website to read more about the WESST clients involved in this project! Alyssa Begay, owner of Bluehorse Realty NM in Farmington, NM, shared “”WESST has been great, the opportunities to learn and speak to the clients of WESST was inspiring to me and helped me to feel secure in my journey of entrepreneurship. Having a consultant there during my business planning phase was incredibly helpful, I was much clearer in my goals and vision after revising my business plan. The ultimate piece of knowledge WESST taught me was that my business will always change, its ultimately up to me to keep my goal in sight.”
Dr. Ndidiamaka Okpareke, owner of Olive Tree Compounding Pharmacy in Rio Rancho, NM, began working with WESST in 2016 when she needed support with her marketing plan and completing financial statements. She continues to receive mentorship and guidance from WESST Consultant/Trainer, Neema Pickett, to this day. “Neema Pickett has been an incredible support to my business. Her deep knowledge of business ownership and expertise on entrepreneurship have been vital in helping me to leverage my resources to create a business structure that remains dominant and well-connected to our community. I am thankful for the services that she provides, and the awareness that she brings to opportunities fitting for Olive Tree Compounding Pharmacy. I look forward to her continued mentorship and guidance.”
Carmen Bolivar has always been interested in being her own boss. Prior to the pandemic, she operated Hamiel Bridals, an event center and dress shop for special events, including weddings and Quinceañeras. Because of the pandemic, she was forced to shut down her business as no events were events allowed and parties were not on the horizon. As the pandemic continued, she realized she had to do something different to provide for her family. “I just can’t stand idle here twiddling my thumbs; I have to do something,” she said. She decided to pivot and go back to her very first passion: food. Working with her consultant, Carmen did a thorough analysis of her business, performed a break-even analysis, a cash flow projection, and understood her new business’s financial side before opening her new food truck venture.
Jodie Herrera was a WESST client in 2018 when she participated in our IDA program which provides financial literacy training and helps participants save towards an asset, such as funds to start a business. We are so grateful Jodie returned to WESST in this full circle moment to design and paint this mural! Jodie says that ultimately she aims to connect and uplift marginalized people, like herself, while providing a platform for important issues around social justice and intersectional feminism and hopes her work can be a catalyst for positive change. Visit Jodie’s website to learn more about her and her amazing work!
WESST strongly identifies with Jodie’s mission and we’re so excited about the new mural. Each day we feel inspired as we see the uplifting images of women we served who have persevered and made their small business dreams a reality.
If you’d like to support WESST’s ongoing work with creative entrepreneurs, please visit our website.
About the Author
Katie Knipe is the VP of Development for WESST and has worked in nonprofit management and arts administration for the past decade. She has dedicated her career to fundraising for organizations whose missions fuel her fire, including those who promote classical music performance and who serve people experiencing homelessness.