BYU alumna’s company promotes women-owned businesses

CEO and co-founder Lyn Johnson, left, and co-founder Sara Sparhawk started their women-led business West Tenth in 2019. Since then, they have developed a network of women-owned businesses they help promote. (Photo courtesy of West Tenth)

BYU alumna and West Tenth CEO Lyn Johnson has given a lot of thought about female empowerment within the workplace and how underrepresented women are as tech founders.

Johnson found out only 2% of all investment capital goes to women-owned companies in the United States and wanted to help fix this problem. She started her company West Tenth with the help of her co-founder, Sara Sparhawk, to help women who have home-based businesses find success in the online marketplace.

West Tenth was founded in 2019 and has grown tremendously since then, according to Johnson. The company’s Instagram has accumulated more than 10,800 followers throughout the span of building the company.

“West Tenth is a marketplace where you can find, primarily, the women in your community who have turned some sort of talent or skill into a business that they’re running from home,” Johnson said. “We’re trying to help people find these incredible businesses that exist all over their communities but can’t be found on Google Maps.”

West Tenth focuses on promoting women-owned businesses by providing them with a platform to share their services. The company’s app has more than 300 small businesses promoting their products on the app. (Photo courtesy of West Tenth)

On the West Tenth app, business owners can create a storefront to display their services. West Tenth features a variety of home-based businesses for every person’s needs.

Johnson said building this company from scratch has not been an easy feat. She is still in the process of expanding her company and is hoping to grow a lot more in the coming years.

Johnson started this company because of the gender wealth gap, which says women own about 30 cents to every dollar in financial assets that men own. Essentially, women are accumulating less in savings and financial security over their lifetime in comparison to men, she said.

Johnson wanted to help fix this problem, so she and Sparhawk developed the idea of an online marketplace that allows people to find one another in their local communities.

“We’re trying to solve two problems: We want women to monetize their skills, and we want busy families to be able to use their skills and find them. So we decided that the best solution is a marketplace,” Johnson said.

Starting a tech company was exactly what Johnson wanted to do in order to combat this. For her company, she sought out venture capital investment so she could be a part of changing that statistic, even if it’s “just a tiny bit.”

She said being able to help women and be a part of their success story has made her so happy. She wants the storefronts on her app to know that West Tenth will always be on their side, cheering them on.

One of West Tenth’s missions is to help women feel empowered. They also encourage their users to help other women. (Graphic courtesy of West Tenth)

She said the process of creating this company came with a lot of trial and error. She attended many tech conferences, met with several web developers and tried numerous experiments for her company.

“We have tried the most scrappiest stuff and some of it works … but what happens more often than not is that you’ll run an experiment and find out that it’s not working, so you just cut it off and move on,” Johnson said.

Within West Tenth, Johnson has been able to expand her workforce, employing six full-time workers and a few part-time workers.

Jared Tracy, the software engineer for West Tenth, has been working for Johnson for a little more than a year. He said working with the team has been an amazing experience.

“West Tenth is by far the most enjoyable place that I’ve ever worked at with the most empowering coworkers and peers and obviously management. Lyn and Sara are just phenomenal at what they do,” Tracy said.

Each employee plays a big part in the production of West Tenth, Johnson said, and without them, the company would not be where it is at today.

Adriana Torresan, the director of product management for West Tenth, is in charge of setting the product vision and product strategy with Johnson. She has worked for numerous companies but said working for West Tenth has been her best experience yet.

“Lyn and Sara are fantastic leaders. They are very caring and supportive and they don’t micromanage me, which is fantastic,” Torresan said.

While Johnson has been able to see many large successes with West Tenth, she said she still has countless ideas and goals that she can’t wait to incorporate into her company. For now, she is just focused on continuing to grow day by day, city by city, working her way through each of her stepping stones.

Lyn Johnson speaks about the process of creating her own company. (Kamree Laursen)

Readers who are interested in supporting local small businesses in their area or business owners who are curious to have a platform to promote their items can head to the West Tenth app to discover more.

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