One grows her enterprise by providing localized services face to face. The other serves customers worldwide through offices on different continents.
In that sense, Wendy Edwards and Jessica Rolph have forged very different paths in southwest Idaho's business community. But they are alike on a more profound level as two local women whose recent success makes life better — at a minimum, easier — for their respective customers.
Edwards, president and CEO at Meridian-based Clarity Credit Union, oversaw 2020 asset growth nearly quadruple its normal rate. This year it's up another 25 percent because of what she sees as Clarity's nonjudgmental support for local residents.
While other credit unions race to expand geographically, Edwards focuses on building market share locally.
Growth looks different for Rolph, co-founder and CEO at early-childhood learning brand Lovevery, based in Boise.
Subscription revenue to Lovevery's product line grew fivefold in 2020 and already this year it has more than doubled. The company now offers an early-learning program in 30 markets including continental Europe.
"Our goal is to keep expanding, creating new products that serve children all over the world for more years of their early development," Rolph said by email.
Behind both companies is a personal commitment to doing the right thing.
Edwards at Clarity said her credit union does well because it employs caring, sincere people. She said having heart is baked into an industry with a philosophy of people helping people.
"The team at Clarity embodies that philosophy and strives to make a difference in the communities we serve," she said by email.
At Lovevery, a moment critical to the company's founding literally blossomed from a mother's love. She was watching her first-born son play with a plastic cow with flashing lights. It made her wonder.
As an industry leader in nutrition-focused, organic baby food, Rolph knew she was feeding her son what his body needed to grow. But by leaving him this toy, was she giving him what his brain needed to grow?
That question introduced a new twist to Rolph's already curvy career path.
Growing up in Minnesota, she figured she'd become a lawyer and went off to college in upstate New York. But after doing volunteer work. she became convinced her place was at the intersection of business and social change. So, after graduation she enrolled in business school.
That led to a job at Whole Foods, and from there, to a founding role at a baby-food company parents could count on as being highly nutritious.
Lovevery likewise offers reassurance to the most conscientious parents. Together with 50-50 co-founder and President Roderick Morris, Rolph has put together a product advisory board of authorities on early childhood development. By contracting with a Chinese manufacturer using sustainably sourced wood and only organic cotton, the company demonstrates a high standard of environmental responsibility.
Rolph said the work Lovevery does now feels connected to her loving concerns as a first-time mother.
"It feels very full-circle to me," she said.
Edwards' path has been more direct. Raised in Spokane, Wash., she rose to leadership by continuing her education after starting at a credit union in San Jose, Calif.
The key to Clarity's success, she said, is building relationships through transparency and a positive focus.
It's been a wild ride lately, with so many factors affecting the credit union's membership. There have been drastic changes in housing prices and employment levels, Edwards noted, while pandemic responses have heightened tensions surrounding personal beliefs.
Because money is already an emotional topic, she said, Clarity uses empathy and optimism. The credit union's employees work to honor and respect others' thoughts while delivering fair financial products.
Recently the credit union's deposits have swelled with government stimulus payments and member savings. It's that kind of growth — personal and stable — that Edward wants for Clarity.
"I believe that we will be here, serving a growing southwest Idaho, for many years to come," she said.