Lyn Johnson and Sara Sparhawk both went to BYU together and graduated in 2004. Following graduation, the two went on their own paths before coming back together to start West Tenth, a startup currently based in Southern California and Utah.

The startup was founded about a year and a half ago, just before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, after the two recognized that many women were leaving the workforce to care for their families.

When those women wanted to contribute in a different way, maybe because of a financial need, the two felt that a poor job was being done as a society with regard to giving women options to onboard back into the labor force.

This was something that Johnson and Sparhawk were witnessing firsthand with family and friends, and they realized that more women were turning to entrepreneurship and home-based businesses to have the flexibility they needed while also generating income for their families.

The goal of West Tenth is to support those women with home-based businesses while making it easier for communities to know about the home-based businesses that exist and help serve the community.

“We think of it as a modern main street because these women are running businesses right in our own backyards, so we need a way to aggregate and find them a little bit easier,” Johnson said. “Our app is kind of a main street for home-based businesses within the community. We really just hope to, one, increase the visibility of these businesses and, two, lend them a little bit more legitimacy and credibility.”

Many people view these businesses as hobbies or side hustles, but Johnson said that they are legitimate businesses being run out of homes that deserve serious consideration.

The businesses joining West Tenth may already have their own websites, but bringing those businesses together onto the app allows for established customers with one business to discover similar people doing various services or making goods.

The COVID-19 pandemic also accelerated the problem that Johnson and Sparhawk saw, as more women decided to focus on families as children were out of school, according to Johnson.

She added that many women started to turn toward creative ways to generate income, leading to more businesses joining West Tenth and also a $1.5 million investment funding round during the COVID-19 pandemic.

While some may be familiar with people selling items or services on Etsy, Johnson said West Tenth offers a more localized selection, something the startup values.

“Even though there are a lot of platforms for local services, there just isn’t anything that is dedicated to this demographic of service providers and we want to be that for them,” Johnson said.

This demographic is not just exclusive to women, with some men being on the app. But Johnson said women are the targeted demographic.

This is because of the types of services and products that are offered on West Tenth, revolving around services that enhance home and family life.

“We’re really passionate about helping to support women where they are, and so we started this and it’s basically been fueled by passion,” Johnson said. “I think the most fulfilling parts of it are when we do hear women say that they feel like we helped them realize that they are legitimate business owners, that they are not dismissive of their own talents anymore.”

Looking to the future, Sparhawk said that West Tenth is currently expanding into other markets, including Phoenix, Arizona, while also investing and creating a better product to service home-based businesses.

The hope for the future is that people will be able to engage and find businesses easier while also building an educational aspect for the business owners. This includes lessons on photography, digital graphics, copywriting and more.

All of it is to help female home-based business owners with growth. To learn more about West Tenth, visit www.westtenth.com.