“There is no limit to what we, as women, can accomplish.” – Michelle Obama
National Women's History Month is celebrated in March to highlight the contributions of women in American history. Women's History Month traces its roots to March 8, 1857, when women from various New York City factories staged a protest over poor working conditions, according to www.census.gov. The first Women’s Day celebration in the United States was in 1909, also in New York City. More than seven decades later, in 1981, Congress established National Women’s’ History Week and in 1987, Congress expanded the week to a month, designating March to be Women’s History Month.
We reached out to local women-owned businesses: Icing on the Lake, Pressed, Relish Studio & Gallery and The Victoria Inn and asked them questions about how they have made a success of themselves and their business. Following that we have a fantastic list of other local women-owned businesses that are definitely worth checking out!
Icing on the Lake
Icing on the Lake– Heidi Fette, Owner Icing on the Lake is a retail dessert bakery located in the West Erie Plaza Courtyard. Offering a freshly baked selection of cupcakes, cookies, cake pops, macarons, cheesecake on a stick, and many other unique items served in a friendly and welcoming atmosphere. What or who has been your greatest influence in business and why? I’ve had 3 major influences in my business…my husband John, and my Mom and Dad. My parents owned a business while I was growing up and really impressed upon me the value of hard work and the importance of doing what you enjoy! I didn’t own a business right away but they laid the groundwork and gave me the confidence to be able to do whatever I wanted in life. My husband, John, was the person who made the bakery possible! He encouraged me to take a risk and to do something I had always wanted to do…own a bakery! It started as a dream but he was the one who make it come to life! What advantages and disadvantages have you found, if any, to being a female entrepreneur? In all honesty, I haven’t found any challenges to being a female entrepreneur. I had definitely endured challenges because of being a female in my previous career, but not with owning my own business. What have you learned as a small business owner that has served you well over the years? I learned very quickly that you need to surround yourself with like-minded people who also love working in a small business and being part of a work family. I also learned that your team needs to believe in what you do and what you’re trying to accomplish. It’s hard to compete with big businesses but if you have the right people working with you, you can bring an amazing product with amazing customer service, and you will thrive! The Erie community is wonderful about supporting local business! What advice would you give to other women who are looking to open up their own business? I would advise other women who want to open a business to make sure that they are in the right place to do so…meaning financially and emotionally. You need to be in a place where you might not get a paycheck for months or years in some instances, and emotionally ready for the ups and downs of owning your own business. I also believe that you have to have realistic expectations of what it means to run your own business. Owning your own business is generally a 7 day a week job and you need to be prepared to put in the hard work and long days. However, if you are up for the challenge, it is the most rewarding thing to do! I love being able to provide jobs for people and to build a place where people love to visit! Do you have anything new about your business that you would like to share? We do have a really amazing new addition that’s coming to the bakery so stay tuned! We hope this new addition will be up and running by summer! It’s going to be a first for Erie, that’s for sure!
Pressed Books & Coffee– Tracey Bowers, Owner Pressed is a bookstore, gift store and coffee shop, where you are invited to relax, sip a comforting coffee drink, and find the perfect book or an unexpected gift. Shopping should be pleasurable and unrushed, a time to enjoy the experience. Welcome to Pressed, where you will discover the unexpected!
What advantages and disadvantages have you found, if any, to being a female entrepreneur? What comes to mind is less of a disadvantage and more of an annoyance: others will sometimes assume or be under the impression that my husband is the business owner. I do believe that one of the very biggest hurdles for female business owners is the psychological mindset that many people harbor, usually without even being aware of it, that men should be frank and businesslike (a positive thing - look how he gets things done, bravo!), whereas women should be nurturing and kind. It means that women in business face the challenge of walking the tightrope of being strong and efficient decision makers, while not coming off as arrogant or cold. No one blinks if a male business owner lays down the law; it's expected and even applauded. But for a female business owner to do so rubs people wrong; she's too harsh, too inflexible, etc. However, the more strong, successful women leaders that society sees, the more we can all combat these subconscious handicaps and emerge with better, stronger, more creative businesses. What have you learned as a small business owner that has served you well over the years? I've learned that, over time, it's okay to loosen up on the reins a bit. I feel much better now, having delegated many things, than I did a few years ago when I trusted almost no one to do what I did. It's important to realize, of others and of yourself, that mistakes will happen and that's okay. Your business generally isn't going to grind to a halt over anything you can mess up in a day. Everything is a work in progress. What advice would you give to other women who are looking to open up their own business? My advice would be this: if you have a passion for it, go for it! Realize it will probably take more time and financial investment than you plan, but may be easier as a concept than you think (meaning you don't necessarily need to take business classes, although it doesn't hurt!) It's okay to make mistakes; just learn from them and move on. The way that I decided to give it a go was to think to myself, what will I regret more when I'm 95 years old: that I went for it (even if it failed) or that I never tried? That made it an easy decision for me. Do you have anything new about your business that you would like to share? There's no one new thing really; I'd just share that we're always getting in new types of gifts, and of course books, and trying new things in the coffee shop, trying to keep it interesting! Also, we have some awesome, fairly new neighbors at Greengarden Place plaza, including Buona Cucina!
Relish Studio & Gallery
Relish Studio & Gallery– Jennifer Reed, Owner Relish is a coastal art studio and gallery, featuring Lake Erie beach glass jewelry. Experience a friendly and vibrant shopping experience. Their knowledgeable staff is ready to help you find the perfect gift for yourself or others. Their focus is local, handmade and American made gifts and housewares. In addition, Relish hosts a biennial event, the Great Lakes Beach Glass & Coastal Arts Festival held at the beautiful Bayfront Convention Center. Mark your calendar for the next festival, October 8-9, 2022. What or who has been your greatest influence in business and why? All small business owners, it takes a special mentality to take the risks and be willing to put in the long hours, hard work, often with no pay. What advantages and disadvantages have you found, if any, to being a female entrepreneur? The shift towards diversity in life is good for us all. There’s a lot of resources out there for women owned companies, you have to be tenacious and look for it. What have you learned as a small business owner that has served you well over the years? To realize that nothing lasts forever. In that I mean the good times and the bad. Be prepared to save when times are good, for the moment that will come, when times are bad. Also, I’m capable of a lot more than I originally thought I was. What advice would you give to other women who are looking to open up their own business? Look for other female entrepreneurs, we are a tribe, and very willing to help mentor or just to be a resource of information. Do you have anything new about your business that you would like to share? I’ve adapted to the pandemic in several ways. My business relied on trade shows for a third of the annual revenue, and when COVID became our reality I adjusted. There are several ways to approach everything, be open to change.
The Victoria Inn
Victoria Inn – Vicke Marz, Owner Victoria Inn, a Historic Bed and Breakfast at the center downtown and within walking distance to many attractions, restaurants and shops. One step through the beautiful front doors and guests quickly realize why Victoria Inn is one of Erie’s landmark Victorian mansions. Examples of the era surround you from the 12-foot ceilings to the incredibly detailed, handcrafted hardwood moldings, mantles and beautiful hardwood floors throughout the house. What or who has been your greatest influence in business and why? My husband’s partner Irene Kinoshita has been my greatest influence. In the late 80’s, Irene found herself jobless after the California computer company she worked for went bankrupt. She had put together a marketing strategy for the company but never got to put it into practice before the company went out of business. Undaunted, she decided to start her own company. In doing so, she entered a relatively uncharted field for female entrepreneurs. When she started her company, she was one of only a handful of women-owned high-tech service business. She always inspired me to be the best I can be. What advantages and disadvantages have you found, if any, to being a female entrepreneur? I am sure I share the same sentiment lots of female entrepreneurs face – when I get calls or have sales people call on me, I am always asked – May I speak to the owner? Or, can you please have Kevin (my husband) call me when he’s available? People automatically assume that someone other than me is “the boss”. The advantages are numerous – Grants, for example. There are so many available to women/minority businesses, and I am truly grateful for that. What have you learned as a small business owner that has served you well over the years? I am still learning, of course, but the single most important lesson I have learned is that even if you’re afraid of them, the numbers count. A successful business is one that can account for every dollar in and every dollar out. Another lesson is to always, always, treat people with the utmost respect – never assume anything – go above and beyond, every single day – Send out the love and kindness – it will come back a hundred-fold. What advice would you give to other women who are looking to open up their own business? NETWORK. Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable and open, don’t be afraid to share your authentic self. Women, I think, sometimes believe that we have to be all things at all times to all people – That is just not true. We need input, we need to trust others to help us, and we need to support each other. Strength, honesty, vulnerability – these are key for women to succeed. Do you have anything new about your business that you would like to share? Victoria Inn is excited about some upcoming partnerships/packages. We will be offering “Adventure Weekends” which will include things like sailing adventures, scavenger hunts, hikes, cooking classes.
All of the mentioned partner businesses are following CDC and state regulated safety protocols to make sure you have a Safe and fun experience! Remember as always, to practice social distancing, wash your hands and Wear. A. Mask.
Mazza Vineyards and the South Shore Wine Company
Local wine is great for holiday entertaining, plus it makes a great gift! Stop by to try (and pick up) award-winning wines at Mazza Vineyards and the historic South Shore Wine Company, both located in North East, PA.
When you have an opportunity to fly, give Erie a try - support your hometown airport!
Direct Daily Flights to Charlotte and Chicago.
Erie International Airport is serviced by American Airlines and United Airlines with daily flights to Charlotte and Chicago with connections across the country and around the world. Book your flight today at www.aa.com or www.united.com
The Erie Regional Chamber is leading Erie’s economic evolution through awareness, advocacy, and access to the people, education, and information integral to elevating regional success and economic growth. Become a member today and join us in championing a vibrant and sustainable regional economy.
The Millcreek Mall features more than 160 stores, restaurants, and fun for the whole family on Upper Peach Street, Erie’s most popular shopping district! Shopping in Erie means no sales tax on clothing or shoes. Choose from a variety of hotels located on the Mall property and just minutes away at the intersection of Peach Street and Interstate 90.
Erie’s own local craft beer pubs are a must-visit! With 4 great locations, just pick one that’s convenient for you! A casual, family friendly dining experience with something for everyone! To view our menu, check out what’s on tap, or get to directions to our pubs, learn more now!”
The Bayfront Grille Restaurant at the Sheraton Erie Bayfront Hotel is excited to announce that our Bayside Patio is open for Lunch and Dinner. Please check Open Table for reservations or contact the restaurant directly at 814-454-2005.
Bring your family to Port Farms this summer, fall and winter! Port Farms is a fun-filled family destination located in Waterford, PA (30 minutes outside of Erie). The farm features many activities for all ages including a NEW Flower Festival, animal exhibits, slides, pedal carts, wagon rides, 8-acre corn maze, jumping pillows, pumpkin picking, Christmas tree picking, visiting with Santa, and much more. Options for wedding venues, corporate events, birthday parties, and school field trips are also available. To learn more, purchase tickets, or book an event visit www.portfarms.com.