Event highlights wealth and wellness specifically for women


Left to right: First Western Trust ladies: Alena Sherash, Loan Officer; Kristin Jacobson, Senior Vice President and Director of Pensions; Catherine Runge, vice president of insurance; Yvonne Mychal, Wealth Advisor; Elise Cohen, regional bank 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 place for women to discuss wealth and well-being recently at Here House. The turnout for the event was so great that the 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 passion for community, diversity, and open discussion led to the social club she co-owns with her daughter, Michaela Carpenter.

“It’s the first time we’ve had an event like this,” she said. “We were approached by Yvonne Mychal from First Western Trust and were immediately intrigued. There are so many big events out there, but what about those that need little investment or are overwhelmed with the process and structure and need basic information? We wanted to create a safe educational environment for women.”

It just suited Mychal’s interest.

“My vision was to create an event dedicated to creating a safe space to empower women,” she said. “We wanted women to be educated, to give them the opportunity to network and socialize with finance professionals. 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-of-its-kind gathering for women in the Aspen community.
Julie Bielenberg/The Aspen Times

Carpenter, Director and Co-Founder of Here House, said: “We regularly offer a Wednesday lecture series and when they approached me with this concept, we were thrilled to bring all these power issues into a public dialogue. This provided a one stop shop for all things that interest the female audience.”


“I have found that there is a large community in Aspen of independent and financially secure women who are moving forward in their second story in life. However, they have never had the time, education or resources to educate themselves about their own finances/investments and have confidence in a company or individual to help them with their own financial goals,” Mychal said.

She said she enjoys working with them and helping them – professionally and personally. Her role allows her to help uncover the freedom that a strong financial foundation can offer a woman, one that offers adventure and experiences that help her live her best life.

Aspen residents Sarah Sohn (left) and Mariah Morris (right) attend the first First Western Trust-sponsored women’s charity and wellness event at Here House.
Julie Bielenberg/The Aspen Times


“I felt that in many of the social circles I was involved in there was a discussion that financial decisions were centered and/or directed towards the family and/or the wealth creator in the family, in many cases the man/ 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 advisor for her annual review, she asked if her son would like to participate. My friend has twins, a son and a daughter!”

Assignment: Wealth + Health

A crucial component of the event was the internal and external confidence of the women. Ring the dermatology bell in Aspen, as many local women seek beauty advice. Why not combine financial and beauty education?

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

“Our financial, physical, and even our aesthetic well-being all agree that they all need consistency, nurturing, and a professional evaluation, along with changes as we are at different stages of life,” she said.

Equity capital

“We wanted to celebrate women from all walks of life: business owners, C-suite executives, mothers, women in transition and more…and we encourage them to be proactive in their own financial affairs,” Mychal said. “Our theme for the evening was protection and prevention in the areas that hit our home closest. These are financial planning, retirement planning and wealth preservation. Then move on to the second part of the program – discussing cosmetic beauty, aging and holistic/natural remedies – essentially how to repair yourself from within.”

“Women should be empowered with knowledge to make choices that change the way we live, change our age, choices that affect how we face our financial futures and how we see our faces in the future,” said Dr. shamab. “We are all living longer and should be living better. We must protect and correct on our path in all aspects of our lives. It is crucial to remove the fear factors of the unknown and literally put our best face forward.”

The crowd’s reaction and feedback seemed to confirm that there is a gap in Aspen’s women’s community to learn how to become financially independent.

net worth

Beauty and intelligence seem to be a winning combination.

“It’s multifactorial, but in my personal situation, I’m a doctor who happened to be an entrepreneur, independent, and four offices, a research clinic, developing and funding a skin care line, and managing over 55 of my staff, 95% of whom are Women, many of them are minority and POC, and the majority of them are the main breadwinners in their families. The beauty business is the key to financial freedom and increased wealth,” said Dr. shamab.

In general, she said she believes people feel better when they look better and that confidence is tangible and contagious. She said beauty is confidence and confidence is powerful.

balance sheet

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

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

return on investment

“Did you know that women outlive men and that 90% of women will most likely be in charge of their own affairs? On average, a 75-year-old woman without chronic disease will live 17.3 more years,” Mychal said.

Cindy Bragdon, a senior wealth adviser at First Western Trust, said: “Women should never become totally dependent on anyone.” The crowd erupted in applause and cheers at her testimony.

Think out loud financially

Catherine Runge, Western Trust’s vice president of insurance operations, asked the women a series of questions:

  • Are you sure your life insurance policy beneficiaries will fit your current lifestyle, or did you check the box to buy a policy when you bought your first home and never looked again?
  • When was the last time you had your life insurance coverage checked by a professional?
  • Has your estate increased in size and value? And has your insurance policy benefit been increased to provide adequate funding for your family at the current value of your assets?
  • If you have a business arrangement with your partners, have you funded the arrangement through the use of life insurance?
  • What is your plan for your care in old age? Who looks after you when you need outside help at home or in an institution? Do you really want it to be a child or partner?
  • If your (almost) grown child were to take responsibility for your family investments today, on a scale of 1 to 10, how confident are you that they would be ready?

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