HIGHLIGHT — A professional leadership development organization for women in the furniture industry celebrates what it has accomplished over the past 25 years.
The complexion of the industry has changed a lot during this time, and Women in the Home Industries Today, or WithIt, has played an outsized role in that, said co-founder Kimberly Wray of Kimberly Wray Marketing Communications.
“Companies in the furniture industry are best placed in the spotlight that the organization has intended for the role that women can and should play in our businesses,” she said. “Hundreds of leaders can point directly to the impact WithIt has had on their individual careers.”
Wray said she considers helping the organization get started as her greatest contribution to the furniture industry.
WithIt began in High Point in 1997 with a mission to encourage and develop educational, mentorship and leadership opportunities for women in the home and furniture industries. Membership of WithIt is open to all companies and women in the industry who wish to expand their network and continue their professional development.
The nonprofit has hosted 17 professional/leadership conferences, including two held virtually in 2020 and 2021, to host more than 240 women from across the country and Canada, said executive director Amy Van Dorp.
“The past two years have taught us how critical having a strong network of industry peers is to success,” Van Dorp said. “One of WithIt’s greatest strengths is the diversity of our members – in the jobs they do and the leadership experiences they have. You will meet company presidents and students – often at the same event.
WithIt will kick off its 25th anniversary celebration on Monday with a networking event and dinner at the Las Vegas Market, and an anniversary celebration will be held April 2 at the High Point Market.
The organization’s 2022 president is Renee Loper-Boyd, vice president of marketing at International Market Centers, where she oversees IMC marketing for the High Point, Atlanta and Las Vegas markets.
The WithIt Board of Directors includes President Lorri Kelley of Lorri Kelley Advisors, Vice President/President-Elect Emily Boyst of Hooker Furnishings, Treasurer Shelly Head of Liberty Furniture and Secretary Bonnie Wallace of the International Home Furnishings Representatives Association .
Sydney Harris of Furnitureland South, chair of the group’s membership committee, said she was introduced to WithIt as a student in the summer of 2017.
“I had no idea there was a women’s organization in the furniture industry, even though I grew up there,” Harris said. “I didn’t know, WithIt is so much more than that. This organization challenges me both personally and professionally. It gives me the tools and resources to be a successful woman in this industry and in life.