Event highlights wealth and wellness specifically for women | AspenTimes.com

Event highlights wealth and wellness specifically for women

From left to right: Ladies of First Western Trust: Alena Sherash, loan associate; Kristin Jacobson, senior vice president and director of retirement services; Catherine Runge, vice president of insurance; Yvonne Mychal, wealth adviser; Elise Cohen, regional banking manager; and Cindy Medina, senior relationship manager.
Julie Bielenberg/The Aspen Times

Wednesday is International Women’s Day, which seemed providential for a story about a safe space for women to discuss wealth and wellness recently at the Here House. The turnout at the event was so great that organizers decided to make it a quarterly event.

From left to right: Michaela Carpenter, co-owner of Here House, Dr. Ava Shamban, and Shirley Sherman. 


Here House co-founder Candice Olson had envisioned the event for some time. Her zest for community, diversity, and open discussion led to the social club she co-owns with daughter, Michaela Carpenter.

“It’s the first time we’ve had an event like this,” she said. “We were approached by Yvonne Mychal of First Western Trust and were immediately intrigued. There are so many large-wealth events, but what about those who just have a little to invest or are overwhelmed by the process and structure and need basic information? We wanted to create a safe, educational environment for women.”

That just happened to dovetail with Mychal’s interest.

“My vision was to create an event dedicated to holding a safe space to empower women,” she said. “We wanted women to gain some education, allow them the opportunity to network with financial professionals, as well as to create connections. We hoped to inspire their confidence by discussing ways to support their physical and financial freedom.”

Local Ella Rathey (left) and Aspen Sojourner Publisher Nancy Mayer enjoy the first gathering of its kind for women in the Aspen community.
Julie Bielenberg / The Aspen Times

Carpenter, director and co-founder of Here House, said, “We offer a regular Wednesday speaking series, and when they approached me with this concept, we were excited to bring all these power topics to a public dialogue. This offered a one-stop-shop for all the things that interest are female audience.” 

Capital Gain

“I found there to be a large community of independent and financially-secure women in Aspen moving forward in the second story of their lives. However, they never had the time, education, or resources to educate themselves on their own finances/investments and or having trust in a firm or individual to help them with their own financial goals,” Mychal said. 

She said she enjoys working with and helping them — professionally and personally. Her role allows her to help uncover the freedom that a strong financial foundation can afford a woman, one that provides for adventures and experiences that will help her to live her best life.   

Aspen residents Sarah Sohn (left) and Mariah Morris (right) attend the first Women’s Wealth and Wellness Event sponsored by First Western Trust at Here House. 
Julie Bielenberg / The Aspen Times


“I felt it was a discussion in many social circles I was included in, that financial decisions were focused and/or directed towards family and-or the wealth creator in the family, in many cases the male/father, as women were busy raising the children and running the family households,” Mychal said. “A close friend confided in me just last week that when she visited her financial adviser for her annual review, he asked if her son would like to attend. My friend has twins, a son and a daughter!”

Allocation: Wealth + Health  

A critical component of the event was women’s internal and external confidence. Ring the Aspen dermatology bell because many local women are game for beauty advice. Why not combine financial and beauty education?

“This past summer in my Los Angeles office, we did an event focused on women’s health, beauty, and the latest and greatest in office treatments and skin care,” said Dr. Ava Shamban, a board-certified celebrity dermatologist and the evening’s headline speaker. “Yvonne attended and thought the topic would be a good fit for a women and finance event that she was planning. As a dermatologist, I know that when you look good, you feel better and have more confidence in your work and your personal life. Also, knowledge is power, too, and being informed about finance is also part of female well-being”

“Our financial, physical, and even our aesthetic well-being aligns in that they all need consistency, care, and a professional check-up, along with making changes as we are in different stages of life,” she said. 


“We wanted to celebrate women from all walks of life: business owners, C-suite executives, moms, women in transition and more … and we encourage them to be pro-active in their own financial affairs,” Mychal said. “Our theme for the evening was protection and prevention on the areas that hit closest to home. Those being financial planning, retirement, and the preservation of assets. Then moving onto the second part of the program — the discussion on cosmetic beauty, aging, and holistic/natural health remedies — essentially how to fix yourself from within.”

“Women should be empowered with knowledge to make decisions that change the trajectory in how we live and how we age, from choices affecting how we will face our financial future and how we see our faces in the future,” Dr. Shamban said. “We are all living longer and should be living better. We need to protect and correct along the way in all aspects of our lives. Eliminating the fear factors of the unknown and putting our best face forward, literally, is key.” 

The crowd’s response and feedback seemed to solidify that there’s a void in the Aspen women’s community for opportunities to learn how to become financially independent.  

Net Worth 

Beauty and brains do seem to be a winning combination.

“It is multifactorial, but in my personal circumstance, I am a doctor who became an accidental entrepreneur, independent, and running four offices, a research clinic, developing and funding a skincare line, and managing over 55 people on my staff, 95% of whom are women, many of whom are minority and POC, and the majority of whom are the primary breadwinner in their family. The business of beauty is key in the financial freedom and wealth empowerment,” Dr. Shamban said.

Generally speaking, she said she believes people feel better when they look better, and that confidence is palpable and contagious. She said beauty is confidence, and confidence is powerful.

Balance Sheet

“It all starts with education and understanding the landscape of opportunities and then finding like-minded professionals who share that aesthetic. In my field, it is those who have an artistic and natural perspective and share in an aesthetics responsibility,” said Dr. Shamban.

Mychal said she hoped to add presentations on women as business owners, women’s lifespan, inheritance, real estate, and more.

Return on Investment 

“Did you know women outlive men, and 90% of women will most likely be managing their own affairs? On average, a 75-year-old woman with no chronic conditions will live 17.3 additional years,” said Mychal. 

Cindy Bragdon, a senior wealth adviser at First Western Trust, said, “Women should never become fully dependent on anyone.” The crowd roared with applause and cheers at her statement.

Thinking financially out loud 

Catherine Runge, vice president of insurance operations at Western Trust, posed a series of questions to the women:

  • Are you sure your life insurance policy beneficiaries match your current lifestyle, or did you check the box of buying a policy when you bought your first house and never looked at it again?
  • When is the last time you let a professional review your life insurance coverage?
  • Has your estate has grown in size and value? And has your insurance policy increased in benefit to provide adequate funding for your family equal to the current value of your estate?
  • If you have a business agreement in place with your partners, have you funded the agreement through the use of life insurance?
  • What is your plan for your care as you age? Who is taking care of you in case you need outside assistance at home or in a facility? Do you really want it to be a child or partner?
  • If your (almost) adult kid was put in charge of your family investments today, on a scale of 1-10, how confident are you that they are ready?

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