Local women share business tips at Sip

December 28, 2010

By Laura Geggel

Every month, women from Issaquah and the Eastside come together for appetizers and wine while they socialize and network for an hour out of their busy week.

The group, Sips and Tips, started in August, and continues to grow in numbers at Sip Wine Bar and Restaurant in the Issaquah Highlands.

The brainchildren of the group, Sip co-owner Jamie Scelzi and Seattle Restaurants Unlimited Marketing Director Karen Lawler, initially started it in Gig Harbor, where the Scelzis owned another Sip restaurant. When that restaurant closed in May, the duo moved Sips and Tips to Issaquah.

The group has no membership fees, and costs $25 at the door for an hour of socializing and networking. Even better, Sip extends its happy hour prices for the group of women who wish to indulge in a larger snack.

Using a word-of-mouth grassroots campaign, Scelzi and Lawler have recruited about 50 women to the fold. The only requirements — that the women be 21 or older, and that they leave all Y-affiliated chromosomes at home — have gone swimmingly.

“We have young moms, we have more mature women. We’ve got a lot of moms up here who have in-home businesses and we have a lot of women who work outside of the home,” Lawler said. “They’re all smart, sassy, snazzy women.”

Sammamish resident Annette Bond said she liked the casual atmosphere at Sips and Tips.

“It’s geared to be a networking event, but it’s a fun, different relaxed setting to meet women, versus your everyday chamber event,” she said.

As far as dress, anything goes.

“Sometimes, people come from work. Sometimes, people come from home,” Lawler said. “If you’ve had one of those days, throw your jeans on. Otherwise, go out with your girlfriends and get dressed up.”

Each meeting has a theme that spotlights a business. In September, the women who own Suburban Soul clothing store on Gilman Boulevard spoke about running a business and managing a family at the same time. In October, women learned about Breast Cancer Awareness Month and heard from a survivor. November brought holiday wine and food pairings and December heralded a silent auction for purses.

The auction raised $780, and benefited the Eastside Domestic Violence Program.

Women brought their gently used handbags and asked that bids start at $25.

“It was really fun, because there were some really great bags there,” Lawler said. “We really wanted to do something that was beneficial to women who are part of our community.”

The group meets the first Tuesday of the month. The next meeting — from 6-7 p.m. Jan. 4 — will feature a nutritionist and trainer, both of who will discuss the theme “new year, new you,” Lawler said.

After the women have mingled and traded business cards, listened to the feature speakers and wet their whistles, a sponsored business gives out door prizes.

Lawler and Scelzi plan to expand the group, not only at Sip but also in Seattle. Lawler encouraged anyone with questions to e-mail her at klawler@seattlerestaurantsunlimited.com.

“It’s really nice to sit and chat and really just be part of a group of women,” Scelzi said. “A lot of these women are stay-at-home moms, but they’ve got degrees, they’ve got businesses they’re running. It’s really about successful women who want to share ideas and make connections and new friends.”

If you go

Sips and Tips

$25 buys two glasses of wine and appetizers

6-7 p.m., first Tuesday of the month (Jan. 4)

1084 N.E. Park Drive

Laura Geggel: 392-6434, ext. 241, or lgeggel@isspress.com. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.

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