Mitsouko A. Burton Associates,
an interior design business:
"I graduated from the University
of Havana with an architectural
degree. In interviews with clients,
discussing their needs and likes, I
think of myself as a designer and
look at them as a professional in
their fields. If a person is uneasy
with the fact that I am a woman,
my attitude is that they can take
it or leave it. I think of myself
as a professional.
"Recently, a gentleman came
to my office and asked for Mr.
Burton. I said, 'He doesn't come
into the office very often—but can
I help you?'
"In an everyday situation,
when salesmen come to the office,
I find that they prefer to direct
their conversation to the male assistant here, even when I am
present. . . . This situation doesn't
bother me. I have the last word on
buying the product."
Ruth Barrett is a partner in Barrett
Associates, a Houston advertising
Unfortunately, Betty Friedan
did NOT change my life.
By the time her first book appeared, I had already been carried
away in an avalanche of babies.
And, whenever I showed signs of
digging out, someone inevitably
reminded me that "the children
need you at home." So I always
worked (at home and away) and
wherever I was, I always felt guilty
about being there.
Now...when the "best friends"
of my youth are in semi-retirement
after 20 years of full-time housewifery and motherhood, I find myself out hauling artwork, cameras
and tape recorders around the
countryside, burning a lot of midnight oil, sometimes even pounding a table or raising my voice to
make a point in a business meeting.
On bad days, when a client
calls to "suggest" that I bring the
male half of Bartett Associates to
a meeting because agency fees and
commissions are on the agenda -
or when a Chairman of the Board
insists on calling me "Honey", I
wonder why I continue to do it.
But on good days, when I land
a new account or deposit a nice
fat check in the bank...I KNOW
I work for the money.
I believe that the sooner women (lots of women) stop feeling
guilty about earning money (lots
of money), the sooner we'll be
able to BUY all the things we say
we believe in. As an advertising
woman, I have visions of the way
we could change the world if women only had enough money to
properly fund full-scale media
campaigns to support our favoriti
causes and candidates.
And on a personal level, let's
face it. I'm no longer a good sport
when "the good ole boys" of my
high school and college days brag
about the terrific deal they got on
a watch in Switzerland or the terrible storm their boat weathered
in the Caribbean.
Though born female, I believe I
deserve "the good life", too. And
what's more, I believe that if I so
choose, I also deserve the fun and
prestige j)f paying my own way.
t!he4% wk>TAl<E tIc
Elouise Hetherly, owner of Oui-
sie's Table, a restaurant and shop:
I don't think I suffer much
from fear of succeeding but rather from fear of not succeeding.
What makes Elouise run? The
monetary and soul investment.
When I first made the decision
to go into business, I put my
blinders on to the discouraging
sounds around me telling me
about how the restaurant business was high risk (true), too
much hard work (true), that I
didn't know what I was getting
myself into (half true).
I became single-minded about
it—refused to compare myself or
the business to others. I gave my
intuitive feelings permission and
encouragement to be and proceeded to act on them. By the way,
that intuitive quality is exactly
what I believe makes for a good
cook, and it is exactly what I look
for when interviewing one.
I felt very certain that what I
was embarking on would work
and that I was absolutely correct
in doing it. And frankly, it never
occurred to me that it might fail.
This has always surprised me
because I was never one with
much self-confidence or high self-
because it is
this particular work
a nurturing business
to me when I divor-
cooking and baking
it all in motion...I
extended family it
continuation of the
qualities that I loved in my family and situation.
The restaurant/store has given
me the opportunity to change and
grow, learn, relearn, discover
that there are a lot of things I can
do that I never dreamed I could—
and things that I can't do and
don't want to do and accept. It's
I guess you can say that I decided to make a living at the things
I knew best how to do. I had
some experience in the theatre...
theatre and restaurants are very
similar. You use what is at hand,
a lot of hard work, long, odd
hours, low pay, and you start all
over again the next day. There's
out front and back stage, and I've
put myself in the director's chair
with permission to act. And the
audience is erratic, critical, warm,
loving, rude, and sometimes not
Kathy Bresenhan, owner of
Great Expectations Antiques and
founder of Developmental Research which is publishing an
evaluative guide to child care
centers in Houston:
Being afraid of success is incomprehensible to me. However, the risks of success I understand all too well. The primary
risk a successful woman runs is
damage to a serious emotional involvement, particularly marriage...
I know of few 'successful' women
who are still happily married. I
know of many more success-
oriented married women who exist
in a semi-constant state of guilt
caused by home and career conflicts.
There's another risk nobody
talks about: isolation. The more
successful you are, the fewer people there are with whom you can
share experiences and insecurities.
Still fewer are those who can understand your problems in coping
with marriage and career.
And that brings up another risk:
the danger of becoming arrogant.
If you can make it, anyone can...
right? Therefore, how you made it
and what you did must be the
right way...And if they'd just listen to you...
Only you can judge whether
success is worth the risks or not.
But don't let yourself be limited
by success. Reserve for yourself
the right to change your life, to
change careers, to change pursuits,
to change priorities...to risk all
that counts on some grand venture of the soul.
*ONly 4% of a| busiNEssEs are v^oman-ownecI
Mary Ellen Allen, owner of
The Village Cheese Shop:
I had taught French nine years
in a high school when I was widowed and moved to Houston. After
teaching an additional year here, I
decided to open a small business.
A course offered by the University of Houston Continuing Education Series For Women, 'Establishing a Small Business,' helped
solidify my decision.
One of my most perplexing
problems was learning to live on
credit and dealing with money.
Also, shifting from the rather
idealistic goals of education to a
situation in which success is usually judged by sales figures, percentage increases over last month's
sales, and last year's sales often
triggers guilt feelings (less and less
I must admit, as time goes on).
What I realize now is that success
for me is judged not only by sales
figures but by my enjoyment and
satisfaction from the work itself.
I take the risks, make the decisions, make the mistakes and also
reap the benefits.
On the negative side, it is hard
for me to understand how anyone
with family responsibilities could
devote enough time to establishing a new business...My private
life certainly has not developed
since the shop opened.
My financial goals...were to
earn as much as I did teaching and
nothing more. I've almost reached
that point now after one and one-
half years and it seems unheard of
in the business world not to constantly plan on expanding, growing, introducing new lines, exploring new markets. But the bug to
grow, as a business, has not yet hit
HOUSTON BREAKTHROUGH SEPTEMBER 1977 PAGE 5