Betsy Wiersma is the Founder and CEO of Wiersma Experiences. Founded in 2012, Denver, CO USA-based Wiersma Experiences produces life-affirming memories at retreats, workshops, and events. They consult on BIG IDEAS that MOVE their participant’s Ideas into Action. They believe everyone has value and that collaboration for common good is magic. One of their biggest ideas to date is the CampExperience™ Network. For 16 years they have gathered like-hearted women for education, inspiration from storytelling, and connections for life and business. Their Network motto is ‘Do Good Have Fun’ and they have raised over $1 million for charities in Colorado and around the globe.
In our conversation, Betsy Wiersma went on to discuss her commitment to helping women reach their goals and how she created a community of 5000+ women on a purpose for good.
PerceptivX (P): What laid the foundation for your entrepreneurial self? Take us through your entrepreneurial journey. What do you feel helped you succeed?
Betsy Wiersma (B): “I am the middle daughter of an entrepreneurial father and a working mother. My dad always told me I could be anything I could dream of, and I believed him! My first business was selling macramé bead bracelets in 4th grade with my best friend Mary Elliott. We made a whopping $40 profit, and I was hooked! At Purdue University I built two organizations and after college jumped into my own business at age 26. I called my first World Headquarters “Suite 2 BR” because it was the second bedroom of my home! My entire life has been dedicated to helping my clients use creativity as a superpower to really move their employees and energize their strategic business goals. I have a list of many ideas, events, and promotions that are ground-breaking and have exceptional results. And the CampExperience™ Network has really gathered so many of the best things into a community. The CampExperience™ Network is a one-of-a-kind women’s group with monthly networking, sponsored social events, and an annual Fall Retreat. We are designed for women, by women. The CampExperience™ Network “Sisters” support one another and other people who may be in need. We grow our businesses, ourselves, and fund our Charity Partners’ good works as well as other projects via our Random Acts of Kindness funds. We have super energetic and creative fundraising like our own version of a Resale Store called the Jacket Exchange and Power-filled Purses that are filled with jewelry, makeup, scarves, and a note of encouragement for women in need. We buy goods from Fair Trade charities around the globe and help women in Uganda, Kenya, South America as well as across the US.
I think as a woman, I am keenly focused on the experiences of not only the guests but also every person on the team. For me, the journey is the most important part of the plan. So, I always begin with shared ownership, inclusion, and opportunities for people to stretch their wings in a safe environment for all. When you really put the focus on community and collaboration, the results are amazing on every level. Plus, we always bring the FUN!”
(P): Everyone who is a part of CampExperience™ is referred to as “Sisterhood by choice”, what exactly does it mean?
(B): “We believe in the power of WE. Together WE can make a difference in our community and the world. Kindness and gratitude are parts of our business strategy as we energize women and share our journey. We call ourselves a “Sisterhood By Choice” which means that the women in our Network treat each other like family. We share experiences of helping others together which creates bonds and friendships. Friends become customers and advocates which builds our businesses. And having fun, learning, and growing builds ourselves.”
(P): How would you say you are living your business philosophy of Do Good & Have Fun?
(B): “My umbrella company Wiersma Experiences and the CampExperience™ Network exist to build relationships by shared experiences. We believe that relationships are the key. I would say I am an informal mentor in the form of more of a “mother” to 5000 women! I say “mother” because I am the bright light and the lead continuing to help innovate ideas for memorable moments. This highlights our Do Good & Have Fun philosophy. When you bring your best self to the project to help someone else, you get the riches of the experience. When you share that time with others, you get the opportunity for deeper conversation and developing friendships. From friendship comes more interaction and opportunities for formal and informal mentoring. Then the real fun begins as friends become clients and trusted advisors. In my book, the friend to advocate journey is very valuable and not found in more formal mentor programs. We also say LOVE is the antivirus so loving yourself, your community, and being part of the possible is more of the secret sauce to this shared journey for women.”
(P): What are you passionate about outside of work?
(B): “Art is my passion so whenever I get a minute (or a day or weekend) I ART! I love mixed-media collage and I experiment with growing new techniques by taking courses from around the world. Now I cannot wait to get back to global travel and go work with these artists in person, capture their stories with my podcast and bring other women to experience the magic!”
(P): Undoubtedly, COVID-19 disrupted everyone’s lives. What was your company’s approach to the pandemic?
(B): “Well, there were challenges and blessings inside “the COVID.” The challenges included our 61 live and in-person events needing to go online. But the blessings were enormous! ~ First, we did a tactical “Sisters Strong” Podcast for “How to survive a lockdown” emotionally and for your business. This gave a leadership voice to our Network sponsors and support to our “Camp Sisters.” Next, we added two more weekly social events online to uplift and inspire. And at Artsy Afternoons on Saturdays, we created a compilation book called THE STEW: Smart Talk Exceptional Women. The book features 62, 1000-word essays from women to help other women and I personally created 100 pieces of art. So, in the challenge of change, we found joy in creation. Finally, we had our Fall Retreat in September 2020 LIVE for 108 guests on-site and 50 online around the world. We wore masks and practiced social distancing and still raised $30,000 for our Charity Partners.”
(P): What’s on the Wiersma Experiences calendar for the coming year? Are there any new events coming up?
(B): “Experiences are KING! My company Wiersma Experiences knows the “secret sauce” to make the magic that creates the connections and meaningful memories. We will continue to grow our CampExperience™ Network in the US and expand our outreach with our podcasts and courses. Our latest global online course is MOVE Ideas Into Action. “Stop thinking and start dreaming!” with 6 sessions in an energized, self-paced course. In 2022 we will begin Art & Insight Retreats. My Art on Purpose brand of uplifting and inspirational art produces products on purpose. Proceeds benefit charities around the globe.”
(P): Lastly, what is your advice to aspiring female entrepreneurs?
(B): “I am the walking example of ‘do what you love and love what you do!’ If you ask anyone in my circles, they will tell you the words that best describe Betsy include awake, energized, loving, strategic, creative, boundless possibility thinking, innovative, brave. For me, this feedback and reputation are better than gold. The advice is YOU BE YOU. The journey of life is continuing to innovate what that means in the season of life you are in today. And the e-ticket wild ride is to as I say in my course MOVE Ideas Into Action – Stop thinking start dreaming! That means be open to possibilities and focus on capturing your wildest dreams and moving them into action to serve the world.”