Business Focused on Giving Women an ‘Extra Hand' Helps Female Entrepreneurs

The women behind the popular Big O Key Ring hope to help other female-owned businesses

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Two Dallas mothers who built a business giving women an extra hand are now using their success to help lift up through a unique partnership with the United Way.

Janie Cooke and Caroline Nix are co-CEOs of Oventure and the women behind the colorful Big O Key Rings seen on the wrist of women on the go.

The business started when the two friends faced a problem many people have – they misplaced their keys.

“Literally that morning at breakfast we had both misplaced our keys and it started with a simple idea – let’s design a solution so that we would never lose our keys,” Cooke said.

Nine years after that breakfast and their big idea, they’re on pace to sell 1 million Big O Key Rings this year.

“It’s one of those things you didn’t know you needed, but once you have it you don’t know how you lived without it,” Nix said.

“Women’s hands are so full of responsibilities," Cooke said. "They’re juggling their child’s hand or their work or their groceries, so early on we realized if we could give them an extra hand to hold on to what was important to them we’d be on to something.”

The pair is now supporting women in another way, partnering with the United Way of Metropolitan Dallas to support the Women of Tocqueville Fund for Women and Children.

Oventure is donating $10,000 to fund United Way programs that help women achieve financial stability. They've also designed a commemorative key ring with part of the proceeds going to the United Way.

“Their product is really designed to give women an extra hand if you think about it. That keychain on your wrist frees your other hand up to do all kinds of extraordinary things and that inspires a culture of helping women thrive and that’s at the heart of United Way’s work,” United Way President and CEO Jennifer Sampson said.

Numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show women were disproportionally affected by the pandemic and the resulting recession. Nearly 11 million jobs held by women disappeared in the first few months of the pandemic while juggling childcare and virtual learning forced many women to leave the workforce.

The disparity is even worse for Black and Latina women.

An early customer of Oventure, Sampson said the partnership would specifically help local women hit hard by the pandemic and the February winter storm.

“When women succeed our entire community thrives and that’s what this partnership is all about,” Sampson said.

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