The group of women who occupied the private events area in the back of Glencoe’s Guildhall on the evening of July 22 appeared to be having a great time. With lots of laughs, smiles and non-stop conversation among the 45 ladies sipping martinis, it seemed like a celebration of some sort.
According to Renata Bregstone, it was a party for business. Bregstone and her three co-founders, Enna Allen, Dr. Sarena Baquai, and Kate Cavataio were launching their new Glencoe-based women’s professional networking group, Blazin’ Babes, a group that focuses on social relationships with the professional aspect tied to it.
“This is about using the social to create professional networking opportunities as opposed to going to an event where it’s all about pushing your business card and meeting people who are going to help you find a job,” said Bregstone, a Glencoe mom of two, who holds an MBA and who is the founder of her seven-year-old MBA admissions consulting company, Strategic Prep.
“Women getting together to help other women is very different from the way men help each other in a professional setting,” said Allen, who is also a Glencoe mom with an MBA, and who runs Brand Buzz Plus, the brand strategy firm she started a year ago.“We all have a vested interest in helping each other reach professional aspirations.”
Blazin’ Babes got its start when Bregstone and Allen became friends while working out at Northfield’s Shred 415.
Bregstone, who moved to Glencoe six years ago with her husband, Greg, and their children said she found herself going into the city a lot for networking events she thought might help grow her business.
A Facebook post from Bregstone about a new book that had just come out called “Stiletto Network: Inside the Women’s Power Circles that are Changing the Face of Business” by Pamela Ryckman put an idea into Allen’s head.
“I responded, ‘This sounds like us. We need to do this on the North Shore,” said Allen.
The two teamed up with Baqai, an emergency medicine physician at Presence Resurrection Medical Center and Cavataio, executive vice-president and chief financial officer for Tuition Options, a large student lending company, and began researching, planning and coming up with their name, of course.
“Because of our backgrounds, we know what it takes to create a brand and a name people will remember,” said Allen, who explained that they chose Guildhall for their launch party because that’s where the four were when they came up with the name, Blazin’ Babes. “We wanted a name that was unique, innovative, memorable and edgy.”
The event drew 45 women, most of whom were looking to join the group. The evening began with an icebreaker activity called “Human Bingo,” which forced the women to mingle and start conversations.
The night also included guest speaker, Danni Allen, winner of season 14 of “The Biggest Loser,” who talked about using networking to achieve her business goals.
“This is a perfect opportunity for me to meet and network with other women,” said Inga Kriltchev, a Glenview-based life coach who attended the event. “We all go through the same stages of life, one of which is finding ourselves again after we have children. It’s not easy, but women have a natural instinct to help each other.”
Blazin’ Babes does not require its members to be currently employed. The founders encourage women who are looking to return to work, looking to change careers, and who are interested in the social part of meeting other women.
“It’s a camaraderie,” said Bregstone. “It’s banding together to achieve what we want to achieve. And the bonus is, you will make life lasting friendships.”