NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ - Support. Encouragement. Validation. Ideas. Melanie Wilson, leader of the Summit/New Providence BIG pod, says that members come to her meetings each month armed with all of these. “The excitement in the room is palpable,” she said. “Interacting with all these smart, successful and creative women is inspiring.”
With over 70 members, the Summit/New Providence pod is the largest pod in the network, and that is to Wilson’s credit as she never passes up an opportunity to tout membership in BIG. Everywhere she goes, whether it is the grocery store, the gym, or a school event, she finds herself recruiting potential members. “BIG is about so much more than growing a business,” she said. “It is about women supporting other women to pursue their dreams. I know my energy and excitement can be contagious; after we speak, women can’t wait to check out BIG!”
This passion started when Wilson went to her first PTO meeting when her oldest daughter (now 22) was in kindergarten. Upon her return, her husband asked if she had been made PTO president yet. While it did take a few years to get that top job, her long career of service and support to the Summit schools and the local community had begun.
Wilson is still very involved with the Summit schools. She has been President of Speak Up Summit, the public education advocacy group, for nearly 10 years. In this volunteer position, she engages the local community to help members stay abreast of the news, legislation, and events that may impact the ability of Summit students to receive an excellent education, and, therefore, impact property values.
A Master’s Degree in Journalism has helped her run marketing, promotional, and fundraising initiatives for many groups in town over the last 20 years. She served on the local Girl Scout board for several years. As Director of Advertising for Summit High School’s “Summit Hilltopper” Annual Sports Journal, she spearheaded a complete revamp of the book, and raised $175,000 for the Boosters over six years.
Ad sales on the sports book led her to a five-year stint with The Alternative Press, helping them identify marketing partners. Her curiosity was piqued when an advertiser suggested she become a B.I.G. Leader. She had not heard of the women’s entrepreneurial group, but attended a few meetings, spoke to a few leaders, and was sold. She launched her pod in March 2012.
Knowledge gained at BIG meetings prompted her to launch her own business, melaniewilsonmedia. “BIG teaches us that we don’t have to do it all: that it is best to focus on the part of the business that we are passionate about and parcel out the rest. I love to write and don’t stress about it, where that task keeps a lot of women from updating their blogs and web sites. It is critical for small business owners to post original, current content. BIG helped me launch my ghost writing business and I provide blog posts, sales letters, and press releases for business owners so they can get back to doing what the love best—the passions that they can monetize.”
She also co-chairs the Educational Outreach/Lobby Display Committee for the Summit High School theatrical performances, and had a blast last year learning how to drip blood for Sweeney Todd. She serves on the Board of Directors for Dreamcatcher Repertory Theatre, and is working with BIG corporate to secure sponsorships for the organization. Currently, Wilson is co-chairing a major Masquerade Party fundraiser for SPARC, the Summit Performing Arts Resource Committee; a Summit Kite Day to launch Mary Poppins in town; and a Candidates’ Forum for Speak Up Summit. She lives in Summit with her husband and three children and a whole lot of piles of paper for all of her projects.
Editor's Note: TAP into B.I.G. is an ongoing series of articles profiling women entrepreneurs in our communities and is part of a unique partnership between TAP into and B.I.G. (Believe, Inspire, Grow), the women’s education, networking and support group for women entrepreneurs.