Converse College and the Spartanburg Area Chamber of Commerce will host a series of three innovative women for the inaugural ICE (Innovation, Creativity and Entrepreneurship) Forum for Advancing Women in Entrepreneurship. Funded through a Converse Creative Collaboration Grant and organized by the Converse Department of Economics, Accounting and Business, the ICE Forum features professional women with real-world stories of success and failure in innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship. From founding a textile company that promotes systemic social change to prevent human trafficking in Southeast Asia, to launching an environmentally-friendly pet product company inspired by a life-changing battle with a brain tumor, to leading the human resource function of a $4.1 billion packaging company, guest speakers Eve Blossom, Carol Perkins-Rawle and Cynthia A. Hartley will share their personal stories and demonstrate how innovative, creative and entrepreneurial ideas benefit organizations, their customers and their communities.
Free and open to the public, the ICE Forum events will be held at 6 p.m. in Kuhn Hall Room 203 at Converse College as follows:
- March 16—Eve Blossom, Founder of Lulan Artisans
- March 23—Carol Perkins-Rawle, Founder of Harry Barker
- April 6—Cynthia A. Hartley, Senior Vice President of Human Resources, Sonoco
“The ICE Forum is an exciting initiative that furthers Converse’s mission to advance women for personal and professional success,” said Converse President Betsy Fleming. “A part of our Creative Collaboration Grant program, the forum promises to develop the entrepreneurial knowledge and spirit of Converse students and that within the greater Spartanburg community. We hope to encourage local entrepreneurship by sharing the extraordinary experiences, expertise and success of some of our nation’s most innovative women.”
Eve Blossom’s twenty years’ experience in early-stage technology firms, international business, nonprofit and social ventures led her to found Lulan Artisans, which designs, produces and markets sustainable textiles globally. She works in partnership with more than 800 weavers, dyers, spinners and finishers in Southeast Asia. Lulan Artisans integrates design with systemic social change, working closely with artisans to create economic stability for their communities, to open new markets and to prevent human trafficking. A frequent lecturer worldwide on sustainable integrated design and innovative business methodologies, Blossom lends her entrepreneurial acumen to such events as The TED Conference and the Aspen Institute’s Liberty Fellowship.
In the midst of a successful modeling career that included appearances in such publications as Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar, Carol Perkins was diagnosed with a life-threatening brain tumor. During recovery, she began to create dog beds and toys for friends as a form of therapy. The popularity of these products and the life-changing experience of her illness led to the launch of Harry Barker, an environmentally-friendly pet product company that sells online and in 3,500 stores internationally. Perkins inspires and encourages others by sharing her incredible story through television appearances such as CNBC’s Big Idea and feature articles in publications including Ladies’ Home Journal. More information on Harry Barker can be found at www.harrybarker.com.
Cynthia Hartley is senior vice president of human resources for Sonoco Products Company. Holding the position since 1995, Hartley has overall responsibility for this $4.1 billion dollar global packaging company’s human resources function. Sonoco has more than 300 operations in 35 countries worldwide. Hartley develops and implements innovative change, including expanding the strategic function of human resources to strengthen business, performance management and succession-planning processes. Previously, Hartley was vice president of human resources for Dames & Moore, an international engineering and consulting company headquartered in Los Angeles. Her career also includes four years as vice president of human resources with National Gypsum Company in Charlotte, NC, and 18 years with Continental Can Company, a $6 billion packaging company.