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The Reimagine Women's Center: A Unique Space Supporting Women in Business

May 10, 2023
Anthony Montgomery
Anthony Montgomery


It all started with three totally unrelated ideas — federal contracts, business development, and child care— from three professionals that met amid the pandemic when women nationwide began opening businesses faster than ever.


After purchasing the Reimagine Women Center’s (RWC) building in 2020, Bridget Bryant was busy planning to impact women and families in a big way, hoping to open her very own childcare center. A dream that she had long waited for. After years of working and caring for children, “I realized that I have a true passion for people and communities. It’s who I’ve always been and what I love,” says Bryant.


When Deanna Smith and Ada Womack Bell met, working in different capacities at Southern University, they merged their passions and expertise to build initiatives that supported female entrepreneurs of all ages, Smith in the federal contracting field and Womack in small business development programs. Together, they founded the 101 Women in Business Conference in 2021, a virtual event that attracted over 150 women.


After a successful conference and the realization that entrepreneurial women require specialized resources to build and grow their businesses, the two colleagues crossed paths with Bridget Bryant in what they describe as "divine fate." Bryant, who had envisioned opening a daycare facility with integrated community outreach programs was the last piece of the puzzle. It was then that their passions — federal contracts, business development, and child care— converged.

 Founders copy

Reimagine Women's Center founders Ada Womack Bell, Bridget Bryant and Deanna Smith celebrate the grand opening of the entrepreneurship hub.

In understanding the needs of their communities, their vision became a reality. "It was a lot of sweat, hard work, and fear," confesses Smith. Some challenges appeared in their lives right before the center's formation, but their love for innovation and the critical partnership with Hancock Whitney gave them the confidence to open the unique concept.


"Women are completely excited. For a long time, they have felt left behind," reveals Smith while sharing the origins of the Reimagine Women's Center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, which opened its doors in April 2022, a month after two of the co-founders hosted their second annual 101 Women in Business Conference. "A woman can bring so much to the table. We want to show them that there's nothing they cannot do with the right opportunities and resources," says Bryant.


Defying multiple challenges on their path, the trio met with the bankers from Hancock Whitney, who opened the door to tailored resources and shared their passion for elevating business owners. They felt understood. "We are grateful not only for their financial support but also for having found partners that get us," asserts Smith.


RWC Opening

 Hancock Whitney associates celebrate the grand opening of the Reimagine Women's Center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The center features the Hancock Whitney Small Business Matters Resource Room helping to create an invaluable resource for women entrepreneurs.


Although a hub for all types of entrepreneurs was discussed during the initial planning stage, the notion that women lead 40 percent of small businesses lit a spark in the founders' hearts. "We imagined a space where women could come and work during the day in a safe place to explore their creativity," explains Smith, pointing out the center's uniqueness. "We certainly partner to provide business training and valuable resources; however, we are not simply a training site, but an innovation hub for women in business to connect," says Smith.


And while the center's primary mission is to uplift women in business, its doors are open to all entrepreneurs needing financial education support, sound business advice, collaboration opportunities, or office spaces to lease


Reimagine Women's Center is the first minority and female-owned business complex operating in Baton Rouge and has served to date over 750 women. The center is also a base for Hancock Whitney's Small Business Matters, a program designed to educate and nurture business owners, and collaborates exclusively with agencies such as Louisiana Economic Development, the Louisiana Small Business Development Center, the Small Business Administration, and the City of Baton Rouge.


Reimagine Women's Center also partners with nonprofit and community organizations to teach highly needed skills like CPR, disaster preparation and relief, and cancer awareness. The center also organizes drives for school teachers and other groups in need.


Bryant, Smith, and Womack hope to expand the center’s resources and capacity into rural areas and throughout the state so "we can teach little girls what it feels to be successful so they don't feel like it's a hard door to open because the path has been opened for them," tells Bryant.