Female Business Owners in Beulah Reflect on National Equal Pay Day

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April 2 is National Equal Pay Day.

It started 23 years ago and is celebrated on April 2 to show how far into the New Year women would have to work to match what their male coworkers made the year before.

Tuesday, Governor Whitmer said equal pay would help grow our economy.

And one Northern Michigan community’s female business owners are leading the way.

Benzie Boulevard in downtown Beulah is almost entirely made up of businesses owned and operated by women.

Northern Decor, State of the Art Framing & Gallery, Luna Boutique, Crystal Crate & Cargo, Hungry Tummy Restaurant, Christopher and Company CPA and more businesses that line the street all have females in charge.

Kelly Chorley is one of the town’s female business owners. She started Ursa Major Bistro five years ago.

“I love the women here that own the businesses…we all get along,” said Chorley. “I go in their stores and they come in and get coffee…we’re always sending people back and forth.”

Chorley has five children and she didn’t start thinking seriously about opening up her own coffee shop and bistro until ten years ago.

This year, she’ll celebrate five years in business.

“When I opened, I wasn’t thinking of myself as a female business owner, I was thinking, ‘my husband’s going to help me do this, I’ll help him,’” said Chorley.  “I love being a role model especially for little girls you know, that you can do whatever you want.”

Female entrepreneurs like Chorley are becoming more common and the pay gap between men and women has shrunk, but statistics show there’s still a long way to go.

According to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, working women make 80 cents for every dollar earned by a man.

The Benzie Chamber of Commerce president, Mary Carroll, says closing that gap means asking for more from your bosses.

“It’s about having an adult conversation and having the statistics to back up your points,” said Carroll. “Come in with positives and ideas and suggestions that equate to an increase in pay or responsibility.”

For Chorley, balancing work and family was easier as her own boss.

“Maybe that’s why it works. If you’re going to work for a company that isn’t flexible with that, make your own.”