Celebrating hard-working women in Edmond

Entering male-dominant fields isn't always an easy task, but these three hard-working women prove it's possible.
Three women business owners in Edmond, Dr. Shannon Lewis, Ruthie Gallardo-Owens, and Victoria Woods (Photo: <a href="https://edmondbusiness.com/author/brent-fuchs/">Brent Fuchs</a>)

We’d like to introduce you to a few of the amazing women business owners who work hard and inspire us right here in Edmond: Dr. Shannon Lewis from Lewis Orthodontics, Victoria Woods from ChappelWood Financial Services, and Ruthie Gallardo-Owens from Oklahoma Real Estate Experts.

Dr. Shannon Lewis from Lewis Orthodontics

Lewis Orthodontics, now located on the north end of Edmond at the corner of North Kelly Avenue and West Covell Road, has been in business since 2005.

“It’s amazing to see people’s faces transform and to watch as their confidence and personality change,” said Dr. Shannon Lewis, owner of Lewis Orthodontics. “The personality change is probably the best part.”

Dr. Shannon Lewis founded the practice after working around the country, completing her general practice residency in Chicago, and working as a general dentist in a private practice in Virginia. That was after earning her Bachelor of Science at Texas A&M and Doctorate of Dentistry at the University of Oklahoma.

Dr. Shannon Lewis from Lewis Orthodontics (Photo: Brent Fuchs)

An Edmond native and graduate of Memorial High School, Lewis said growing up, she always had an interest in art and science. It was after seeing a friend go through a significant jaw surgery that her interest in dentistry was piqued.

“It was kind of life-changing,” she said.

Lewis recounted how she tried working in the oil industry as a petroleum engineer on an offshore rig near Morgan City, Louisiana, but after six weeks on the rig, she decided oil wasn’t for her. She returned to her university and changed her course of study to a biomedical major, beginning her pursuit of a career of changing lives by creating smiles.

After finishing school, completing her residency, and working in Virginia, she and her husband decided to return to her Edmond home and continue practicing here. But, after not finding a fit with any of the local clinics, she started her own.

“It was a challenge to learn the business and grow it,” she said, though since opening Lewis Orthodontics in 2005, she’s learned the business of business. “You’ve got to be forward-thinking. You’ve got to adapt.”

As a mother of three, Lewis said while over the years, she has struggled with work-life balance and what she called “mom guilt.” Her family has supported her greatly in her career, and now she sees the benefits of her hard work in her own children.

“Now that they are older, they appreciate it,” said Lewis, explaining how her eldest daughter, now 17 years old, knows she can choose to enter the business world as something other than the stereotypical secretary, teacher, or nurse—the common career choices for women mere decades ago.

“Women didn’t think they could do anything else. My girls know they can do anything they want to if they put their mind to it and work hard. They have options.”

Victoria Woods from ChappelWood Financial Services

Victoria Woods is the chief executive officer of Edmond-based ChappelWood Financial Services. She is also an author, radio show host, was named one of the 50 Most Influential Women by The Journal Record, has been featured on the Today Show, Success Today TV, NewsWeek, Barron’s, Fox Business, and other media.

A former delegate to the White House Conference on Small Business, she currently advocates for women’s rights and business equality as one of Gov. Mary Fallin’s appointees to the Oklahoma Commission on the Status of Women.

Victoria Woods from ChappelWood Financial Services (Photo: Brent Fuchs)

“That was the tough part, wearing all these hats,” said Woods. She wasn’t talking about her many present roles, but rather all the roles she played when she founded ChappelWood Financial Services more than three decades ago.

“I was marketing, accounting, sales, HR—everything,” she said. “Now, I have teams that share those hats.” In fact, it was hats, apparel, and fashion that helped launch her into the position she is in today, according to Woods.

Growing up as one of eight children to a poor family of eight children in Fort Worth, Texas, her first job outside of babysitting six children for lunch money was in retail, working as a teen model, and often wearing a Mickey Mouse costume.

Continuing her employment with the retailer, Woods eventually claimed the role of junior fashion department manager, but soon with her success donned the title of fashion manager, working this job and three others while attending college.

Her career in fashion eventually led her through four states, her last stop working in fashion being a high-end clothing retailer in Denver. There, a Texas-based insurance firm found her and recruited her into the world of insurance sales.

“I had this realization. I grew up without any money, and I was earning a lot and wanted to learn how to manage money properly and to be a good steward,” she said. “Thousands of others were in the same situation, and I wanted to help them.”

She learned not only about insurance but about wealth management. This understanding and experience, coupled with what she learned by taking two accounting classes, set her up for her next big move.

Two years later, in 1988, armed with her new knowledge and skills, she took on the new role of being a business owner by founding ChappelWood Financial Services. The following year, she returned to Edmond to grow the firm into the company it is today.

“I get so much joy. I get to wake up every day knowing I can make a positive financial difference in other people’s lives,” she said, also saying at this point, she doesn’t really have to work, but she wants to. “If you have a gift, a talent, and you keep it to yourself, I think that is sinful. We are put here to help other people.”

When asked about the reason for her success in financial management, she said, “Well, finance is a lot like fashion,” she said, explaining as an example how a salesperson shouldn’t show the business suit section to a man seeking a suit suitable for a cocktail party.

“The key is being able to weed out the unimportant things and being able to find and present solutions and strategies to reach (your clients’) goals.”

She said during her career, she often found herself as the only woman in a room full of men.

“It didn’t bother me because I felt I was in their world. I found men extremely respectful and encouraging, and they came to respect me,” Woods said. “I didn’t expect anyone to change their behavior. I only expect a level playing field.”

“As a woman in business, I am going to earn your business—earn it first and strive to keep it.”

Now, her desire is to offer people opportunities she has been given and help them be compensated based on their efforts.

“Where else can you do that than in the great country of the USA?”

Woods said now as an advocate for women in the workplace and the new chair for the Oklahoma Commission on the Status of Women, she hopes to inspire, encourage, and uplift the women of Oklahoma.

“We are representing Oklahoma women, and one of our goals is to improve their quality of life and inspire everyone to live to their fullest potential.”

Ruthie Gallardo-Owens from Oklahoma Real Estate Experts

Ruthie Gallardo-Owens is the owner and team leader of Edmond-based Oklahoma Real Estate Experts with RE/MAX at Home.

What began as a hobby, and now five years later, she has grown into not only a successful career for her but also the fulfillment of a lifelong passion in teaching.

Ruthie Gallardo-Owens from Oklahoma Real Estate Experts (Photo: Brent Fuchs)

Gallardo-Owens said she always had an affinity toward education, even early on as a child, sharing things she learned with friends and family members.

“I have always enjoyed learning and sharing,” she said.

After completing her undergraduate degree in political science, she went on to earn her master’s degree in education, while starting her career in education teaching English as a second language.

After working several jobs teaching, she moved on to work in management at two nonprofits before returning to teaching, this time not instructing children, but rather working as an education technology integration specialist for Oklahoma City Public Schools.

“I was teaching teachers how to use technology to teach,” she said.

It was there she learned how much she enjoyed teaching other adults and became accustomed to flexibility, often only afforded business owners.

After a mentor introduced her to the real estate industry and getting her license, Gallardo-Owens took the plunge and soon found her hobby had much greater potential.

“I didn’t realize how much education there was. That’s where I got excited,” she said, explaining how as a realtor, her goal was to educate her clients about the home buying process.

“I find joy in taking difficult processes and breaking them down so buyers know what they are doing when they sign the papers,” she said, explaining how after her clients meet with their lenders, she holds a consultation with them and gives them homework—all to help them understand their own needs and wants and help them stay within their budgets.

Her emphasis on education paid off. In her first year in business, Gallardo-Owens sold nearly $2 million in volume. Last year, her team nearly closed $10 million.

For Gallardo-Owens, her role as an educator is not only to her clients but to her teammates as well. In fact, she views her business as an incubator of sorts for those interested in learning the real estate business.

“With all of my people, my goal is to graduate my people to become business owners themselves,” she said, explaining how while it’s very easy to get a real estate license, it’s much more work but more rewarding to learn how to serve one’s clients well.

She said as a woman, she has been very blessed to be able to find mentors who saw potential, not a gender, and lent their support and encouragement.

“You still have people who will only deal with a man, and most team owners are men. I have gotten flak when I tried to break the mold as a team owner, but I have never felt that slowed me down.”

She brings a nurturing aspect to her business that would be lost otherwise.

“The fact I care deeply, I think, attracts clients. I don’t think I would have that if I weren’t a woman.”

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About Thomas Berger

Thomas Berger is the owner of Ciskus Creative, an Edmond-based creative agency focused on creating marketing content for small and medium-sized businesses.

Prior to starting his own company, he worked as the communications/marketing specialist for an Oklahoma City-based office technology company. Former to coming to the Oklahoma City area, he had worked as a career journalist for more than a decade — initially reporting for several newspapers in western North Carolina and northeastern Oklahoma and later as a multimedia journalist for KJRH Channel 2 in Tulsa.

Thomas has lived in Edmond with his wife Alison since 2013. He has a passion for traveling, photography, learning languages, landscaping and coffee roasting. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from Western Carolina University.