In honor of Women’s History Month, we’re proud to shine a spotlight on the female entrepreneurs who have come through (or are currently participating in) reSET’s Impact Accelerator program. Jam Program was founded by a duo of sisters and their mom as a way to provide networking and support for women, whether they own a business or are looking for a babysitter or a group of supportive female friends!
Meet Ashley Rigby, Shawna Kitzman, and Teri Michaud of Jam Program
Jam Program is a multigenerational women’s networking company. We increase ladies’ networks and net worth one Jam at a time by hosting bravery-building events, where women share ideas, resources, and energy to achieve more. It was founded by sisters Ashley Rigby and Shawna Kitzman, and their mom Teri Michaud.
reSET: You’re just getting started with this year’s Impact Accelerator program. How has it helped you so far, and what are you looking to get out of the program?
Ashley, Shawna & Terry: This Accelerator is propelling us to work through some tough questions at a much faster pace than we would have on our own. The program is also providing resources and guidance for our start-up. The connection to a diverse group of fellow local entrepreneurs and mentors is incredibly inspiring and energizing.
reSET: What are some challenges you’ve faced and overcome as female business owners?
Ashley, Shawna & Terry: Carving out time from full-time jobs and managing families is a constraint; the Accelerator is holding us accountable for setting goals and hitting milestones. Since we started in January 2018, we’ve hosted 13 networking jamborees for women of all ages, with positive feedback. We’re determining how to scale our model, to serve beyond our immediate communities. Another challenge is how to best engage women of an older generation, who are not digital natives.
reSET: Who are some of your female role models?
Ashley: Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Michelle Obama, and Ruth Bader Ginsburg. I’m most inspired by the women in my life on the daily, my everyday lady heroes.
Shawna: My Grandma, Rita Leonard. She was a resilient, creative, and smart single mother who defied cultural norms. I think of her often as we create more spaces for women.
Terry: Amelia Earhart. She wore pants and got into a cockpit of an airplane and flew solo in 1932. She was a brave pioneer.
reSET: What’s one piece of advice you have for fellow female entrepreneurs?
Ashley, Shawna & Terry: Have an open mind. You don’t necessarily need to know exactly where you are going, but keep going forward. Get feedback early and often, then tweak accordingly, while staying true to your vision. Leverage the resources available through reSET. A bright spot about Hartford is that it is a small pond; it feels easier to access resources than in say, New York or Boston. Use that to your advantage! And, invest in your own network – surround yourself with diverse, interesting women of all ages. Jam Program can help women do this!
reSET: Anything else we should know? Are there other women who help keep Jam Program running or have helped you along the way?
Ashley, Shawna & Terry: We love our fake aunt (aka “Faunt”) Mary Ellen! She works tirelessly planning and making the food and drinks that we serve at our Jamborees. She is our “back of the house” lady with the most delightful personality. We’d also like to shout out to our husbands, who keep the home fires burning while we build Jam Program!