- Associated Press - Sunday, October 11, 2020

SPARTANBURG, S.C. (AP) - The death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg was the first “celebrity” death that Lindsay Posey cried over.

For Posey, a woman, mother and widow who considers the Supreme Court associate justice her idol, it was personal.

“Back in 2012, I lost my husband,” Posey said. “Without (Ginsburg), if I tried to open an estate case and … another male figure in the family decided they wanted to as well, I would’ve been trumped because I was a female.”

Ginsburg, who died in September, made many strides for women in the United States, including assisting women to be able to sign a mortgage or have a bank account without a male co-signer, pushing for equal pay and protecting pregnant women in the workforce.

These strides have helped women like Posey find their place in the world. She proudly works as an office manager at Consolidated Planning in Landrum among a staff composed of only women.

Gena Meredith, who owns an investment advisory office with Consolidated Planning, remembers a time working in the finance industry when it wasn’t as welcoming to women and is grateful for the changes she’s seen throughout her lifetime.

“I think that the business world has changed a lot in the last 20 years, I came up through the business world in the ’80s and ’90s,” Meredith said. “I wasn’t paid the same thing that my male colleagues were paid… until I got into the investment advisory business (where) you’re paid based on what you do.”

Meredith is one of only a handful of female financial advisors in the area, but said as a business owner in Spartanburg County she’s always felt welcome - and that she’s seeing the number of women working in investment advisory growing.

“I think that things have changed a lot for the better,” Meredith said.

Nationally, more than 11.6 million firms are owned by women, accounting for 39% of all privately held firms, according to the National Association of Women Business Owners as of 2017. Of those firms, 5.4 million are owned by women of color.

Female-owned firms employ nearly 9 million people in the United States and generated $1.7 trillion in sales as of 2017.

Rachel Epps, owner of Arts in Motion, opened up her dance studio during the COVID-19 pandemic. After a year of uncertainty figuring out her children going back to school and holding dance classes safely - she feels like she’s on the right track.

“I really feel like this beautiful butterfly is emerging,” Epps said. “All the support from our families, how much they trust us with their children or babies, it’s been a really beautiful experience.”

Though she’s officially opened a studio and is holding classes, Epps said she felt alone sometimes during the process, but acknowledged that there were resources she could’ve used.

“I could probably have more support from the community that I just haven’t tapped into yet,” Epps said.

OneSpartanburg Inc. has the option on its website for owners to get certified as a women-owned business, as well as a yearly Women In Business conference.

Throughout COVID-19, Sue Thomas, owner of Mama Sue’s Home Cooked Meals in Spartanburg, already had the perfect business model for surviving a pandemic: delivery and grab-and-go meals.

Thomas said the Spartanburg community has been welcoming and she’s been busier than ever.

“These are literally my people and I really care about them,” Thomas said. “I had $200 in my pocket when I started this, and (now) I’m literally debt free.”

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