The Women’s Business Development Center in Chicago, IL, has helped over 15,000 women either start or grow their businesses for 27 years. The cofounders and co-presidents Carol Dougal and Hedy Ratner’s also started the Women’s Business Development Conference which has helped even more women entrepreneurs from around the world.

How does one say “thank you” to women that have made such an impact for good in our world? In celebration of their life long leadership and contributions WBENC (Women’s Business Enterprise National Council) answer was to commission me to create a piece of art for each of these extraordinary women.

In my research, I found that Hedy & Carol have spent the past 17 years operating from Willoughby Towers, a building overlooking Millennium Park in downtown Chicago. The artwork I designed is from the viewpoint of looking from the park back towards their building.

The frame is constructed of 100-year-old reclaimed lumber, cut from an old factory beam. The main element portrays the building in steel. There are tree branches and the top right-the leaves of the tree cleverly displayed the “W” logo of the WBDC. Each leaf is forged steel and layered in real 23k Gold Leaf. I also placed a few chrysanthemum flowers (the official flower of Chicago) constructed from recycled Pepsi cans. Each flower’s center has a cluster of pearls meant to symbolize “beautiful things that can manifest when you overcome adversity.” Pearls are also very sentimental to the co-founders as they helped one of their first clients bring her pearl business from the kitchen table to the successful corporation.

Since 1989, Ahlers Designs commissioned artwork has helped companies celebrate and motivate their people. Your mission, core values and industry inspire our appreciation art process, providing an investment toward building a prosperous workplace that honors individuals and community.

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