CEO and co-founder of StudentPainters.net, Ballardite Jessica Bishop is one of five finalists for the 2011 Nellie Cashman Woman Business Owner of the Year Award.
In the Spotlight: Jessica Bishop
The Women Business Owners (WBO), Puget Sound's leading organization for women entrepreneurs, has named five finalists in the 2011 Nellie Cashman Woman Business Owner of the Year Awards Competition and one of them is Ballardite Jessica Bishop.
Bishop the is co-founder and CEO of StudentPainters.net, a company that provides quality House Painting services while offering college students a paid internship opportunity to learn lifelong business and leadership skills.
The WBO award, also known as ‘The Nellie’, recognizes and honors women business owners who have enhanced the status of women entrepreneurs through their vision, perseverance, and fearless leadership in business and the community. To qualify a nominee must own at least 51 percent of the business, gross more than $1 million in annual revenue, and have three or more employees.
"I was nominated by one of my peers," Bishop said. "I have no idea if I'm going to win. There are some amazing women in this group [of nominees] and none of us are in the same industry. Either way I feel very honored to be among them."
Born and raised in the Northwest, Bishop was the first member of her blue collar family to attend college. While at the University of Washington, she paid her tuition by working for a student painting company, similar to the one she owns now.
"Initially, I was drawn to the money. I could earn $10,000 in one summer and, at the time, that paid for my tuition each year," Bishop said. "I did very little painting. Instead, I was in charge of a crew of painters and learned about management, pricing, painting, communication and running a business. This is hard work and I was drawn to the challenge."
Bishop said she attended the University of Washington with the goal of becoming a doctor.
"I came from a working class family and I thought that being a doctor and getting paid well would give me a successful and happy life," she explained. "Then I took things like chemistry and that didn't really agree with me."
Student Painters introduced her to business management and entrepreneurship and Bishop realized there was money to be made in business as well.
"I became hooked on management and being in charge of your own destiny. If I worked harder, I got more rewards. I liked being in a position of power and competing to be the best," Bishop said, admitting that she's a Type A personality who thrives on leadership and competition.
Thanks to her job, Bishop was able to graduate debt-free. Immediately after her graduation in 2000, Bishop went on to start up StudentPainters.net after the painting company she had worked for closed its doors due to financial failure.
Bishop and her co-founding partner revamped the model into a profitable business plan that serves to provide outstanding customer service while caring for its employees with extensive training, generous compensation, and a focus on safety.
Starting a leading Northwest painting company with her own savings out of a tiny studio apartment wasn’t easy, but since its inception in 2000, StudentPainters.net has rapidly expanded to include territories in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Montana.
Bishop said the company is doing well and just passed the $2.4 million mark in revenue this year.
"It's hard work. It didn't fall in my lap that's for sure," she added.
Despite the hard work, Bishop somehow finds time to be a mother to her two kids, serve on the PTA, be involved in the Whittier Heights community, and appear at public speaking engagements at career centers and business organizations.
Bishop's hard work and entrepreneurship has earned her such esteemed awards as the Puget Sound Business Journal’s “40 under 40” in 2008, and Volunteer of the Year for the Entrepreneurs’ Organization of Seattle in 2009.
In addition to her own business success, what satisfies Bishop the most is the success her alumni achieve.
In the last 11 years, thousands of young entrepreneurs have graduated from the StudentPainters.net management training program and Bishop keeps in touch with many of them.
"My very favorite thing is when they go on to open their own business and be an entrepreneur. It's very rewarding to me," she said.
Even in this economic downturn, Bishop encourages people to be entrepreneurs and start their own businesses.
"When you have your own business, you're in charge of your own destiny. It's far worse to be waiting around to see if the company you work for is going under or stressing about getting laid off," she said.
The 2011 Nellie winner will be announced at a gala awards banquet on Thursday, October 13, 2011 at the Fairmont Olympic Hotel.
The other "Nellie" nominees are Rosanna Bowles of Rosanna Imports, Inc; Janelle Bruland of Management Services Northwest; Lisa Chissus of CFM Consolidated, Inc; and Rae Anne Rushing of The Rushing Company, LLC.
For more information and tickets the gala, visit https://womenbusinessowners.org.
To learn more about Bishop's company, visit StudentPainters.net