The Women’s Business Center of Utah Launches New Free Directory of Women-Owned Businesses in State

While Maharba Zapata was just starting to salsa in her Magna house to support her seven children, her husband suggested that Zapata name her business Salsa Queen.

Zapata, 49, said she remembered thinking, “That’s the dumbest name ever.”

The name stuck, however, as deals has grown, and Zapata has constantly had to find larger office and kitchen spaces to meet customer demand.

In fact, Zapata became so well known by this title that when she became a U.S. citizen a year and a half ago, she legally changed her name to SalsaQueen Zapata – a move that reflects the importance of her salsa brand in his life.

Salsa Queen is one of more than 400 women-owned businesses in Utah included in a new directory of Utah Women’s Business Center, where people can search by county, city, and industry to find women entrepreneurs in construction, finance, and the arts, among other fields.

The next time the Utahns need to find a unique gift or hire a professional, Ann Marie Wallace, state director of the Women’s Business Center, said she hoped they would go to

“Using the directory just once a month can have a huge impact,” she said.

Small, female-owned businesses hit hardest during COVID-19 pandemic than their male counterparts, according to the US Chamber of Commerce. Part of this is because women are turning to service industries, Wallace said, and because they have struggled to access PPP loans, while also facing childcare issues. .

Even before the pandemic, “women were already at a disadvantage because they could not access capital like men can, and they had other barriers that were placed in front of them,” according to Wallace.

This new repertoire can help make a difference, she said.

“Knowing which small businesses are owned by women and where to find them is key to supporting them,” Wallace said.

Do you want to be added to the directory?

You can register at

The directory is open to for-profit women-owned and operated businesses, including home-based businesses, solopreneurs, side businesses, physical, online, e-commerce, service or product businesses, and businesses in franchise. .

A company rooted in passion

Salsa queen

Get Zapata on the phone, and she’ll quickly start sharing recipes on how to make guacamole with her gourmet pico salsa and creamy jalapeno dip, or how to mix her queso chipotle dip with red chili salsa to create a delicious sauce. . Just talking about it makes her hungry, she laughs.

Zapata currently has around 25 employees working at a West Valley City site to prepare salsa and dips, which can be found online and in stores across the valley and nationwide, including Harmons, Smith’s and Sprouts Farmers Markets. During COVID-19, Zapata also added home delivery to the Salt Lake, Ogden, Provo and Park City areas.

“People have to eat,” she said.

Zapata left Mexico for the United States 32 years ago, and she said she started a salsa business because it matched her love for food, culture and family.

The sugar skull on the labels of her products is from the Mexican holiday Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead), she said, and it also pays tribute to her baby who died of leukemia.

Zapata is proud to have come from “humble beginnings”, to immigrate to the United States without speaking English, to now live in what she calls her “dream neighborhood”, Olympus Cove.

At the start of last year, Zapata spoke in front of a crowd about her success with Salsa Queen as part of the Utah State University Entrepreneurship Leadership Series. Since then, she said she had watched a recording of her speech dozens of times.

“It’s one of the highlights of my life,” Zapata said.

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) Salsa online at Salsa Queen in West Valley City on Friday May 14, 2021.

Aarf Dogwalking and Petsitting

Suzie Ellison was not allowed to have a dog while growing up because her father was not an animal.

“When I moved, one of the first things I did was have a dog, and then I’ve had a dog ever since,” she said.

After years of working as a paralegal, Ellison started her Aarf Dogwalking and Petsitting business in Salt Lake City 13 years ago, when her son went to college. The move allowed him to combine two of his passions: dogs and the outdoors.

“It’s so much fun. It’s so gratifying, ”said the 64-year-old who lives in Cottonwood Heights.

Today, Ellison oversees a team of eight, and they take the dogs for walks and hikes in the valley. This part of the business has performed well during the pandemic, Ellison said, as his customers still have to take their pets out while working from home.

Aarf House, which Ellison describes as a dog bed and breakfast, has struggled over the past year as people weren’t traveling as much and didn’t need accommodations for their pets.

As the pandemic has taken unexpected curves, Ellison said she still feels lucky “to do what I love.”

(Photo courtesy of Suzie Ellison) Suzie Ellison, pictured with her dog Rosie, started Aarf Dogwalking and Petsitting in Salt Lake City in 2008 to combine two of her loves: dogs and being outdoors.

HHeR inspections

Lori Rawlings started with her business HandyGal, doing home repairs and maintenance for customers. A few years ago, the 54-year-old woman decided to do home inspections through her as well. HHeR inspections business.

“I’ve always loved taking things apart and putting them back together and finding out how things work,” Rawlings said. This includes work on her Victorian home in Salt Lake City which was built in 1904, where she lives with her family.

While Utah has seen a booming real estate market, Rawlings said calls for inspections have been a bit slow. It may just be that her business is relatively new and continues to build up a client base. But based on what she heard from realtors, Rawlings said it could also be because the housing market is so tight, with some people offering $ 100,000 more than asking prices to hang places. , buyers skip inspections before buying.

This worries Rawlings, she said, as the Utahns could later face costly fixes if they don’t take the time to do an inspection.

Rawlings is excited about the publicity the new directory will bring to women-owned businesses in Utah, she said. Personally, a few clients have contacted her for work, especially because she is a woman.

“They said, ‘I want to hire you because I think you’ll do a better job, and I want to support women in business,” Rawlings said.

(Photo courtesy of Lori Rawlings) Lori Rawlings, who started HHeR Inspections, said people hired her because they wanted to support a women-owned business.

Growth of women-owned businesses

During the coronavirus pandemic, women entrepreneurs were more likely to say that they were regularly concerned about money and expected to lose income in the months to come, than women who worked for companies, according to a report released in April by the Utah Women and Leadership Project at USU.

“I often work without pay to make sure I can pay the others who help us in our business and keep our program running smoothly,” a female business owner spoke about the project in response to an investigation into how COVID-19 has affected Utah women in the workforce. Another woman said the pandemic made her “reluctant” to start her own business.

The Women’s Business Center of Utah can provide resources and help, Wallace said. Despite the challenges before and during COVID-19, Utah is doing well relative to other states when it comes to women-owned businesses, she said.

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) Ann Marie Wallace, left, gives advice to Abbey Daw, owner of Sweat & Soul Yoga, on Thursday, October 29, 2015. Wallace is the State Director of the Women’s Business Center of Utah, and the organization launched a directory of women-owned businesses in May 2021.

The Beehive State ranks sixth in the country in terms of economic weight for women-owned businesses, according to a 2019 American Express report. And the number of businesses run and owned by women in Utah has increased from 77,800 in 2015 to 89,092 in 2019, a dissertation from the Utah Women and Leadership Project shows.

Yet information released by the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute earlier this month indicated that 59% of business owners in Beehive State are men, while 16.9% are women. (The remaining 24.1% were split male / female.)

Wallace’s organization estimates that if women-owned and controlled businesses achieved parity with their male counterparts, in terms of income and employees, it would create 25,000 new businesses, 162,000 jobs and $ 26.5 billion in new ones. returned to Utah.

“If that happened next year, it would grow our economy by 15.7%,” Wallace said. “It’s astronomical.”

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) Adrian Galaviz at work at Salsa Queen in West Valley City on Friday May 14, 2021.

Becky Jacobs is a Report for America member of the body and writes on the status of women in Utah for the Salt Lake Tribune. Your donation to match our RFA grant allows her to continue writing stories like this; please consider making a tax deductible donation of any amount today by clicking here.

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