Local business owner recognized as a woman of influence

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By Carol A. Clark

Her interest in going beyond decorating and into creating environmental spaces has allowed Cheryl Sowder’s business to blossom and thrive for three decades.

And New Mexico Business Weekly recently rewarded Sowder’s success with its prestigious Women of Influence award.

The Finishing Touch owner was honored at the Business Weekly’s fifth annual Women of Influence awards luncheon in April at the Embassy Suites Hotel in Albuquerque. More than 400 attendees celebrated the recognition and achievements of Sowder and other recipients.

Sowder was chosen based on her leadership, community involvement and professional achievement.

She is involved in Kappa Omicron Nu Honor Society, Los Alamos YMCA, Los Alamos Chamber of Commerce, MainStreet, The Wildlife Center, Leadership Los Alamos, Leadership New Mexico and Quality New Mexico.

Sowder described her motivation for community involvement.

“I think that the strength of a community is measured by the community members who volunteer to make it work,” she said. “I’ve found out that every time I volunteer, I end up gaining more personally than I contribute, so it’s easy to keep volunteering. If I keep open to possibilities, I don’t have to search for ways to contribute; they come to me. And, each thing leads to something else.”

Her advice to young women starting out is to start slowly and carefully.

“I find that the businesses I know that have been successful have not rushed in and done everything at once,” she said adding, “Surround yourself with good people.”

Sowder is an interior designer and she holds a degree in environmental design. Her business at 174 Central Park Square will celebrate its 30th anniversary in 2010.

The company carries a line of products that provide a “finishing touch” for homes and businesses. Sowder’s line includes flooring, floor finishes and floor coverings.

The store carries an abundant supply of wall paint and provides coloring, covering, design and installation consulting for homes and commercial concerns at no charge.

Finishing Touch also carries a specialty line of carpet, ceramic and related products and a complete selection of window coverings and expert installation.

“We sell service and products with the service,” Sowder said.

If she could be any woman for a day, Sowder would choose Eleanor Roosevelt.

“She was commanding and when she wanted something, she went after it. She was a woman of integrity and she accepted challenges well and thrived on them,” Sowder said.

The 2009 Women of Influence event was emceed by Augusta Meyers of the Mid-Region Council of Governments, a well-known local broadcaster.

Magic 99.5 FM, a Citadel broadcasting affiliate, sponsored the luncheon.

Five Women of Influence alumnae judged the awards including Lynne Andersen of NAIOP, Joanne Fine of United Way of Central New Mexico, Michelle Mullen of Mullen Heller Architecture, Agnes Noonan of WESST Corp and Lynn Trojahn of ACCIÓN New Mexico Arizona Colorado.

The Business Weekly selected Sowder and 30 other women throughout New Mexico for this year’s Women of Influence honor.

Contact Carol A. Clark at lanews@lamonitor.com or (505) 662-4185 ext. 25. Read her blog at www.newsextras.wordpress.com.