Arvest Bank is pleased to announce “Powered by Women,” a virtual Zoom conference designed to recognize and celebrate National Women’s Small Business Month and, specifically, female entrepreneurs in the Joplin, Mo., area.

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The event will be held Tuesday, Oct. 27, from 9:30-11:30 a.m. Those interested in joining the conference or getting more information can email Arvest commercial banker Ashley Mejia at

Ashley King, senior vice president for Arvest in the Joplin region, will host the virtual conference.

“I come from a family of small business owners and have experienced both the challenges and the rewards that come with being an entrepreneur,” King said. “Working in consumer lending and alongside so many small business owners has given me additional perspective and sharing in their successes has been more gratifying than I could have expected.”

King will lead a five-woman panel through individual presentations and a Q&A session. Scheduled to participate are:

  • Megan Escalante, owner of Pineapple Bliss – Escalante started her business five years ago as a mobile dessert shop. In addition to believing a successful entrepreneur must be willing to work hard, prioritize and make sacrifices, she also understands the importance of offering healthy products and believes in catering her business to meet the dietary needs of her customers.
  • Brandee Johnson, founder and president of LimeLight Marketing – Driven by her passion to help companies grow revenue, Johnson takes pride in providing professional consultation as well as branding and marketing services. In addition to running her agency, Johnson also serves as a board member for the Pittsburg Area Chamber of Commerce and Pittsburg State University’s Kelce College of Business.
  • Natasha Walker, co-owner of The Rustic Cactus Boutique – Walker had eight years of experience in retail management when she launched her online shop as a way to supplement her income. Three years later, Walker remains committed to making women feel confident through what they wear, while also enjoying the flexibility that comes with being her own boss.
  • Lori Haun, executive director of Downtown Joplin Alliance – An experienced business operations manager and interior designer, Haun specializes in system development, community outreach and relationship-building. In her current role, she focuses on the revitalization of historic spaces.
  • Melodee Colbert-Kean, co-owner of MEs Place – Before becoming a restaurant owner in 2013, Colbert-Kean served more than a decade as a city council member and mayor, including the aftermath of the 2011 tornado. Through that public service, she has traveled the world offering the insight she gained from leading Joplin through a crisis. She also serves as a board member for numerous groups, including George Washington Carver National Monument and Missouri Southern State University.