Little Black Dress

The SKY is the limit for ladies in little black dresses

The first annual Little Black Dress event took place at SKY Armory on Thursday to benefit women in business.

Women entrepreneurs networked at the Little Black Dress fundraiser for the Women Igniting the Spirit of Entrepreneurship (WISE) Women’s Business Center at SKY Armory on Thursday.

SKY Armory, owned by Nicole Samolis, opened over a year ago. Samolis is aware of what it takes to be a woman entrepreneur because she built her own business. As a member of the WISE advisory board, the Little Black Dress event was her idea and her way of giving back to the organization.

 “I want to see people have a great time. I think we as women don’t do that enough in the business community,” Lenweaver said.

The event’s location had an exposed brick wall, refinished hardwood floors, and fairy lights that made the room feel intimate. There was a live singer and band playing in the background, creating a warm ambiance.

There were approximately 150 people in attendance. The majority were women who were dressed in black outfits, ranging from sparkly dresses to elegant pantsuits.

There were six live models present during the event who were showing off clothing provided by the stores ShowoffsNeenee’sCocli CollectionBounceJet Black and The Changing Room.

Wines created by female winemakers and cocktails were sold to accompany hors d'oeuvres. Throughout the night, various people approached the four featured entrepreneurs: Eileen CollinsAbigail HensonMaria Rizzo, and Pam Puri. Gwen Webber-McLeod, president and CEO of Gwen Inc. and the founder of You Can’t Fail Inc., has worked and mentored Collins. “There are gender dynamics, and we’re just trying to get on the same playing field,” she said.

Webber said WISE is important because women need to see that there are other women like them facing the same challenges and succeeding.

WISE was started by the Falcone Center for Entrepreneurship, a program under the Whitman School of Management at Syracuse University. The initiative developed into a one-day symposium as well as the year-round Women’s Business Center, according to

Joanne Lenweaver, executive director of the WISE Women's Business Center, said the center is unique because there are few organizations that are connected to an institution of higher learning. “This is important because the most exciting portion of what we do is education,” Lenweaver added.

The purpose of WISE is to train and inspire women who are interested in entrepreneurship by providing information, resources, training and support. WISE also wants to move women’s businesses to the next stage of profitability and success, as well as create an environment in which women entrepreneurs can thrive, according to

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