At Nationwide Marketing Group’s PrimeTime conference and trade show in Houston, the WIN: Women In Nationwide network debuted a new partnership with WithIt, a women’s leadership development network for the home and furnishings industries. The partnership was announced during the WIN breakfast and panel discussion in Houston, which featured several women in key leadership positions from Nationwide member companies.

“The core of our WIN initiative is to encourage and promote more women to step into leadership roles in our industries,” says Jennifer Danko, vice president of technology for Site On Time and a founding member of the WIN group. “When Amy Van Dorp, executive director of WithIt, learned about our initiative and our goals, she reached out to ask how they could support us, and we’re so excited to work with them.”

Formed as a standalone nonprofit organization in 1997, WithIt began as a mentoring network for women in the furniture industry who had attended various Furniture Markets only to find themselves surrounded by male colleagues. Today, WithIt works to promote business and professional development, networking, mentoring and more for women in furniture as well as retail, bedding, accessories and many other industries.

“We are really trying to develop skills to help women be ready to move into bigger roles and maybe even lead the company,” Van Dorp says in an interview for Nationwide’s Independent Thinking Podcast. “When we saw that Nationwide was starting WIN, we said, ‘We need to work with them and let them see what we’re already doing, because we have been doing this for 20 years.’ It’s a perfect partnership.”

With the launch of WIN: Women in Nationwide at PrimeTime last August in New Orleans, Nationwide had struck a chord with members, vendors and staff alike. The desire for the group to help promote the professional advancement of women in the independent retail channel resonated. The kickoff panel discussion was well attended, and the discussion continued through a Facebook group in the weeks and months after the show. What started to take shape, though, was a desire for more in-person networking and educational opportunities.

“Instead of Nationwide coming up with a whole conference of content, we have that already with our Professional Education Conference,” says Van Dorp. “We’re all in the home and furnishings industry, so we have similar challenges. We have retailers who come to our conference — they may or may not sell appliances, but we all have similar challenges, and we can work together to help women overcome them.”

WithIt’s annual Professional Education Conference is a two-and-a-half-day event that offers attendees numerous leadership education sessions, the chance to hear from professional and industry speakers, and networking and mentoring opportunities. Nationwide and WIN announced a corporate sponsorship for WithIt that will allow Nationwide members to attend WithIt’s conference at a discounted rate. 

“Since WithIt already has this amazing conference and many hours of incredible content, we’re thrilled at the opportunity to partner with them,” Danko says. “Our members will benefit greatly from all of the resources that WithIt has developed for women.”

The next WithIt Professional Education Conference is scheduled for June 24-26 in Alexandria, VA. For more information and to register, visit the event’s website