Monday, February 26, 2024

From Abuse to Abundance: This woman means business

By Lynn Seeden

Christi Beca of Flower Mound suddenly found herself as a single mother after escaping an abusive marriage eight years ago.

Leaving with the clothes on their backs– homeless, broken, no job–Christi and her two children found their way to her parents’ house in the following months.

“Here I was in my early 40’s and I had to start completely over,” said Beca. Determined to support herself and her children, she says she took any jobs she could get, and enrolled in real estate school.

But she longed for connections, friendships, mentors.

“A couple years into my new real estate career, I was trying to ramp up my business by looking for networking groups,” says Beca.

“There were a lot of great groups out there, but not one solely connecting women business owners. I wanted to find a group of empowered like-minded women to surround myself with.”

She was surprised that no such group existed. “What does any entrepreneur do? I created one!”

And so, in 2015, the Flower Mound Women In Business networking was born, and so was “Christi 2.0.”

Starting as a Facebook group of a couple dozen people, Beca’s FMWIB group today boasts 4,000 members, ranging in ages from 19 to 99. The women still connect online, while some members meet in person for business networking, cocktail talks, service projects, fundraisers.

“I was on a mission,” Beca said about starting the networking group.

“I am an insane hustler, and I was so passionate about wanting to connect with other women, to share my story that I went through hell and made it back. My hitting rock bottom would turn into the foundation I needed to help other women.”

As business owners, Beca explained, many of the members can give back: Bakers, flower shops, lawyers, restaurateurs, CEOs, bankers, city employees, insurance agents. To date, the group has assisted more than 1,000 women.

Beca hopes to see the FMWIB model multiply to other cities nationwide.

Flower Mound Women in Business now is a nonprofit organization. Even before securing its 501(c)3 status in 2020, people were coming to the flourishing group to help fill needs for local families … families that had no place to turn.

Beca’s vision for the Flower Mound Women in Business group included stepping up to help other women by providing mentorship, giving a hand-up.

“It is important to us to empower women, to learn, grow and connect,” Beca said. “We emphasize servant leadership, paying it forward, and integrity … doing the right thing every time.”

And when a local women-owned business is in trouble, the group can mobilize.

In fall 2022, Flower Mound Pumpkin Patch owner Jan Balekian announced she would close due to lack of staffing. Beca sent out a rallying cry to her FMWIB members. “A ton of people jumped in to help as volunteers. It was grit and perseverance … a good ol’ fashioned grass-roots effort to save the pumpkin patch.”

Galas and fundraisers staged by the group provide grants for women-owned businesses, Christmases for kids and single moms, and donations to charities including Dress for Success and Arms of Hope.

“But my personal favorite is our “Guidance Through the Gap” fund, which directly helps women going through a hardship. The majority of women going through a divorce do not have the resources to get them what they need. Sometimes they need items NOW—today—like food and clothing,” Beca said.

One single mom who came to the FMWIB for help had a similar story to Beca’s. “Divorce. She needed a job, needed funding,” Beca said. “Three small kids. Through my real estate connections I found her housing and helped her find a job. She was able to start her ‘Life 2.0’.

“She wrote me the sweetest letter. We saved her life. She thanked us for believing in her.”

Beca well remembers her own desperation from hitting rock bottom during her nasty divorce, qualifying for food stamps, looking for free activities for her children, and asking herself who “Christi 2.0” would be.

“Everyone falls on hard times. I made it through, and so can you. I don’t want anyone else to have to hide behind that shame.

“I look back on what I went through and I really thought my life was falling to pieces, but it was actually falling in to place.”

For more information about joining Flower Mound Women in Business, its events, and its upcoming women’s fall leadership conference, visit www.fmwib.com.

CTG Staff
CTG Staff
The Cross Timbers Gazette News Department

Related Articles

Popular This Week