She Hustles: Women-Owned Businesses
March is Women's History Month, making it a great excuse to explore and support local, women-owned businesses – and enjoy new experiences along the way.
by Celeste Smith
Girl power! Take a look at some of the female entrepreneurship that thrives in the Queen City. Bonus: Learn about some notable Charlotte-area shops and experiences to add to your must-try list.
Per a COVID-19-related Mecklenburg County health directive issued Jan. 12, 2021, please note that some businesses may have modified their hours of operation and changed procedures in order to comply with CDC and Mecklenburg County Health Department guidelines. Please wear a mask, limit any non-essential activities and refrain from gathering with anyone outside of your household.
Location: By appointment only
Year-round, owner Tamika Ishmael crafts creative hairstyles for clients – while producing and selling on Etsy and Amazon her own product line that includes shampoo, conditioner, body butter, lip balm and other care items. During the summer, she hosts a Natural Hair Summer Camp for ages 10 and up, where kids learn hair braiding, twists, color techniques and more. The events of 2020 presented a unique opportunity to bring her sold-out camp to a broader virtual audience, who followed the multiday workshop from home while working on their own mannequins and kits. The camp is back this year, and includes a virtual tour of Empire Beauty School.
Location: 1218 E 36th St.
Stop by this restaurant, art gallery and gathering space next time you're in NoDa. Take your pick of unique coffees, craft cocktails and wine pairings while enjoying the relaxed and neighborly atmosphere. Owner, Christa Csoka, works to preserve the area's local art and history while putting an emphasis on fresh, local and organic ingredients. Start your day with a fresh pastry, or enjoy a Sunday morning brunch; No matter what, you can always expect an inclusive and creative environment.
Location: 322 Main St., Pineville
Let your creativity shine at this fun do-it-yourself workshop great for team-building sessions, friends night time out or other group gatherings. Sit down with a nail gun, paint brush or wood planks and create home décor projects you’ll love, from serving trays to jewelry racks to throw pillows. In 2016, Maureen Anders and Adria Ruff launched AR Workshop (their last name initials combined to create AR) in Pineville. Now, they have more than 150 locations franchised around the country.
Location: 4717 Sharon Rd.
Billed as Charlotte’s first pharmacist-owned CBD boutique, Joslyn Brown, along with her husband Colby, opened Blue Flowers in 2019 with the intent to provide high-quality hemp products and education in a welcoming environment. Joslyn Brown’s own CBD journey started while she was looking for alternatives to prescription medicine to treat her Crohn's disease. Patient education and informal consultations are priorities at the boutique.
Location: 101 South Tryon St.
What better way to get to know Charlotte than by foot, bike, van or Segway? That’s the concept that prompted Dianna Ward to start Charlotte NC Tours, which mixes activity with history. Longtime residents and tourists alike can develop a new appreciation for the Queen City by touring Uptown Charlotte and nearby neighborhoods. If you’re feeling something a little more adventurous, “Meet Charlotte’s Ghosts” during a spooky haunted tour of cemeteries and other sites.
Location: 4001-C Yancey Road, #100
Looking for fun cooking classes, catering services or fresh meals for pick up? You’ll find this at the family business owned by award-winning chef Alyssa Wilen and her husband, Andrew. In 2020, Chef Alyssa hosted online cooking classes from March to October and replaced her popular Saturday morning brunch with two pop up, takeout-only events. She reassures in-person class participants with safety requirements that include masking, tables distanced at least six feet apart and other precautions.
Location: Local Charlotte food stall in Optimist Hall (1115 N. Brevard St.) and food truck
Zhang Qian and The Dumpling Lady team are open every day at Optimist Hall, serving fresh, authentic, handmade Chinese dumplings and noodles, as well as other dishes they describe as Sichuan street food. Just how committed are their fans? “I work a traveling job,” one wrote on The Dumpling Lady’s Instagram page. “I cannot wait to get home to my son and to you guys lol..."
Location: 121 Depot St.
Owner Lindsey Williams hosts wine tastings, bottling parties and a relaxing place to enjoy a glass of wine inside a space billed as the first urban winery in Davidson. According to the website, the location was once an organ-making shop, and the space reflects that interesting history. Social activities include teaming up with local business Main Street Books for the Well Read Black Girl Book Club.
Location: 1540 West Blvd., Suite 102
Triathletes Zsa-Zsa Porter and Nikkis Campbell want to show the way in helping others to build and maintain healthy lifestyles. The pandemic served as inspiration for launching their plant-based cuisine store, which serves fresh bowls, juices, soup and other items. “We watched and learned that COVID-19 was hitting the African American community hard,” according to their website. “Instead of complaining about it we decided to do something about it.
Location: 1800 Camden Road
Popular T-shirts - like ‘The Power of the Babe’ and ‘Honeys Making Moneys’ - highlight the mission of Girl Tribe, which aims to support women’s strengths and entrepreneurial spirits. Classmates-turned-friends Carrie Barker and Sarah Baucom transformed their business ideas first into a regular pop up event and online store before opening a retail boutique in South End, a vibrant social media community. These pop up events, now happening across the country, showcase women-led brands and include DIY workshops and fitness classes.
Location: 2400 Park Road, Suite A
Open for just over a month, Mood House massage already has more than 300 active members, according to owner Cristina Wilson. “Especially right now when mental health is such a new priority for many, the fact that we incorporate (optional) affirmations into the massage is really special,” Wilson says. “Our massage therapists inspire and support our clients emotionally, not just physically.” Clients can choose one of four moods – Calm, Clear, Abundant and Awake. The massage style, music and aromatherapy all work together in the experience.
Papi's Puerto Rican Cuisine
Location: 440 E. McCullough Drive #123
University City’s popular collection of international eateries includes Papi’s, chef Tara Quinones’ tribute to her upbringing and the authentic Puerto Rican cuisine it consisted of. Born in New York, she grew up in her grandfather ‘Papi’s’ summer resort business in the Catskill Mountains, where the visiting Puerto Rican community from the city came to enjoy live music and authentic food. Menu items include chuletas encebollado (pork chops with sauteed onions), pastellios de carne o pollo (beef or chicken meat pie), besitos de coco (coconut kisses) and other eclectic delights.
For founder and CEO Haley Bohon, SkillPop is all about making in-person learning accessible and fun. Local professionals teach a range of classes ranging from photography to podcasting and marketing to jewelry making in community spaces like Hygge Coworking. Bohon wants the skills participants take away to enrich lives and get people out of their comfort zones. SkillPop is also good for people looking for skills they need to get a side hustle or creative business off the ground.
Work For Your Beer is the ultimate guide to brewery (and cidery, winery, bar or bottle shop) workouts, co-founded in Charlotte by Alicia Valenski and Mel Fox. Created in 2016, the website provides all the information needed for the workout — including details about pricing, parking and more — so that all you have to do is show up and have a good time. “In a city like Charlotte that is full of active people who are passionate about craft beverages, there are so many unique opportunities to blend those interests together with activities like brewery run clubs, cidery yoga, hard seltzer dance classes, tavern trivia and so much more,” Valenski said.