“I want to create more Popheads!” said Tanesha Sims-Summers, Founder and CEO of Naughty But Nice Kettle Corn Co. in Birmingham, Alabama.
“Popheads” are Sims-Summers’ fond term for customers who enjoy her company’s unique blend of sweet and salty kettle corn and who are “working together to make the world a sweeter place.”.
A Regions Bank customer, she was among a variety of area business owners who participated in a Women-Owned Business Showcase as part of the recent Women of Regions Symposium.
Held March 3 and 4 at the start of Women’s History Month, the symposium convened more than 150 female associates from across Regions for two days of networking and learning.
“As a minority-owned and woman-owned business it’s always a treat to be able to be surrounded and in the atmosphere with other amazing, powerful, influential women,” said Sims-Summers. “This gives us the chance and the platform as a small, growing business to get those skillsets and to get the inspiration, and to share our story about our contribution to the community as well.”
The Small Business Showcase gave Regions Bank associates a chance to see, and in some cases sample, products offered by local small-business owners. And, the local companies had an opportunity to visit with women of Regions, including bankers, and market their products and services at the same time.
Caroline Taylor, head of Small Business Administration Lending for Regions, was among the symposium attendees.
“I love walking through seeing all of the diversity, the different women business owners that are represented here,” said Taylor. “They have their craft set up and they’re talking through what they do, how they got started, what drives them, their passion.”
Tramaine Yarbrough, Human Resources Learning and Development supervisor, helped organize the showcase.
“It’s been amazing seeing the participants embrace the women-owned businesses,” said Yarbrough. “The theme of the symposium is Empowered Women Empower Women; and so we thought, what better way to empower women than to give these vendors … the opportunity to be here and to get that exposure.”
In 2015, after the birth of the youngest of her four children, Sims-Summers took the leap from a successful career in the corporate world to pursue her kettle corn business full time. Beyond creating delicious snacks, Naughty But Nice Kettle Corn. Co. is a platform for Sims-Summers and her family to serve the larger community. Embedded in the business model are donations, sponsorships, a volunteerism network, as well as engagement in mentoring and jobs programs through organizations such as Birmingham Promise and Grace House Ministries.
“We want corporations … to know our impact and, most importantly, how they can continue to contribute to small businesses by investing in them, by purchasing from them and understanding what we do,” said Sims-Summers.
Sims-Summers’ story illustrates a growing trend of female entrepreneurship, notes Taylor.
“Women are more educated than ever and they’re more skilled that ever, and now they have that drive, ‘OK, let me do this on my own’,” she said.
“It takes really guts, I say, to be in small business,” Taylor continued. “Regions really wants to partner with customers and our prospects … we’re about relationships, we want to be there with you from the beginning and walk you through that journey.”