Open for Business
by Diane Harrington
Early in January, three Houston women
got together and formed their own company, which specializes in quality interior
painting and wallpaper hanging. Janie Ballard, Shirley Neely and Jean Tissue call
their company BNT.
As Tissue put it, "The three of us got
together, we had been doing work for
friends, so it seemed a good idea to form
a company and go at it like that."
Neely got interested in painting about
two and one half years ago when she began
re-doing an old house she purchased in the
Heights. She decided to get out and do
something on her own and make money
About a year ago, Ballard started painting. "I was hanging wallpaper with my
cousin for fun and decided I liked it. I left
my office job and started to paint full
time," she noted. "You can see the progress being made—it's fulfilling."
According to Tissue, there was one
other reason for her involvement. "We got
tired of doing work for our friends for
free," she said with a grin.
The firm is trying hard to build a reputation for dependability and quality work.
"Women are more particular in the job
they do. . .more careful in painting around
a window. . .they care more about how the
job looks," Neely emphasized.
Ballard added, "People are so used to
contract people not showing up, one can
get a good reputation and more jobs by
being dependable. We will never make a
contract we can't complete," she said.
(L-R) JEAN TISSUE, SHIRLEY NEELY,
and JANIE BALLARD
"We need to meet some more people
that can open doors for us—we want to
expand beyond where we are now," Tissue
BNT offers free estimates and guarantees to be reliable, hang your wallpaper or
paint your wall. They can be reached at
Diane Harrington is editor of this feature
page, Open for Business.
During the past four months, Kiki Neumann and friend, Sharon Jacobs, have sold
approximately 1,500 whistle kits at $2
each. The kit consists of a whistle and a
booklet explaining what to do if attacked,
with an emergency phone number list.
Neumann started just last Thanksgiving
with 200 kits. They were a good last-minute Christmas gift. Parents also bought
them for their daughters going away to
"From the feedback received since the
beginning of the program, there is a need
for the whistle in this community," stated
"People are opening up and telling me
their personal experiences with rape and
assault," she added.
When Jacobs' sister was attacked recently, everything "got close to home,
scary" and that spurred her on to get involved with the whistle project.
Both women spoke of the difficulties
they have encountered so far. Jacobs noted
the frustration that people generally don't
realize they need protection—that no one
is immune to attack.
"Men laugh at us and make funny jokes
about it—think it's cute—not important."
But the same men might turn around and
buy one for their wives, Jacobs noted.
Neumann, who is a consultant for a paper company by day, is looking for help
to run the program.
"We're looking for women who have resources (like nurses and night shift workers) who can contact other women and
make them aware of the need for personal
safety. We are very willing to negotiate on
large orders," she added.
Jacobs said the whistle's main appeal is
for women, but it also comes in handy
for joggers and senior citizens. Joggers can
use the whistle for protection against
H SHARON JACOBS and KIKI NEUMANN
would-be muggers. Senior citizens living
alone find it convenient in case of assault
or injury in the home.
The nickel-plated, brass whistles can
be used against obscene phone calls, also.
A sharp blast into the caller's ear is usually
enough to discourage any future calls.
Jacobs added, "I keep one by the bed
so that if I hear someone breaking in, I
can make enough noise to scare off the
Kiki Neumann and Sharon Jacobs are
not as much profit-minded as they are
about getting their whistle made available
to all Houstonians. Several bookstores
stock them, including, The Bookstore,
1728 Bissonnet; Books Inc., 2620 West-
heimer and B.D. & Daughter Bookstore,
1623 Westheimer. The kits are also available by mail for $2.00 postage paid to
WHISTLE, P.O. Box 66815, Houston
TX 77006. - D. H.
IRAN continued from page 12
Women Fighters. Among other things,
they are calling for equal pay for equal
work and equality of social and economic
Both Ahia and Hormachea applaud the
recent demonstrations. They say that the
Ayatollah's Islamic government is only
transitional. It is only "the first part of
the revolution which will eventually bring
about a social-democratic government,"
"I believe," she says, "that the Ayatollah does not see a place for women
outside the home. I also think that doors
will slowly be closed to women in various
jobs. But what makes me proud is that
women were the first to question the
Islamic government. In the days to come
you will see more groups expressing their
disillusion with the provisional govern
However, she adds, although the Ayatollah has some feudal beliefs, he also has
many liberal and militant ideas. "He is
responsive to the people," she points
out. "Notice how he backed off and took
back his edicts when the women demonstrated. His government, however, is not,
and they have no real interest in involving
women in the work force."
For those reasons Ahia and
Hormachea feel Millett's reference to
Khomeini as a "male chauvinist pig,"
was another divisive element. "To women
who idolize him," Hormachea says, "this
is very destructive. It is his government
that should be criticized and brought to
an end. Not him—he serves a purpose."
Many of the Iranian students in
Houston have returned to Iran and within
the next months many more will leave-
including both Sadeghr and Ahia. Although Hormachea is not an Iranian,
she has become so involved over the years
that she may move to Iran and make it
her permanent home.
The returning students have many
ideas but Hormachea believes that the
majority of them have developed a great
respect for women while studying overseas.
"It is political awareness that has done
it," she says. "While living in the U.S.
they studied and discussed politics with
women students and developed exchanges
and relationships they could never have
had at home. The political movement has
liberated the women in Iran too—because
women demonstrated right along with the
Ahia and Hormachea believe that
American feminists do have a role to play
in the Iranian women's movement, as well
as other world movements. But they must
be careful not to impose their own standards on other countries. "People need to
have the time to talk and argue their own
problems out, without an imposed
view," Ahia says.
Above all, Ahia adds she would like
American feminists to remember that
"governments may change, but women
will still be oppressed until power goes
to the people. Women's liberation is an
example of the freedom of the rest of
country. If the women are oppressed, the
country is too."
Barbara Farrar Karkabi has lived and traveled in the Middle East and written extensively about the area and its women. Her
articles have appeared in numerous international publications.
The Village Cheese Shop
DOMESTIC AND IMPORTED CHEESES
MARY ELLEN ALLEN
HOUSTON, TEXAS 77005