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.
Location: 322 Main Street, 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 100 locations franchised around the country.
Location: 4717 Sharon Road, Charlotte
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 Street, Charlotte
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, Charlotte
Whether you’re looking for cooking classes for kids or adults, Saturday morning brunch or catering services, you’ll find it at this family business owned by award- winning chef Alyssa Wilen and her husband, Andrew. The business opened in the coveted Lower South End neighborhood after years of hosting classes at Atherton Mill. Don’t overlook Chef Alyssa’s product line, including champagne-tomato jam and smoked chili or rosemary mustard, sold at spots throughout Charlotte.
Location: 121 Depot Street, Davidson
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.
FEAST is the city’s longest running food tour company, according to founder Kristi Martin. She started the business in 2012 and has more than 20 years of event planning experience. FEAST’s approach to sharing Charlotte’s culinary community is far more than just sampling dishes: guides introduce guests to the talented professionals who put the area’s culinary scene on the map. Guests get to enjoy a wide range of locally-owned culinary destinations across the city.
Location: 1800 Camden Road, Charlotte
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.
Papi's Puerto Rican Cuisine
Location: 440 E. McCullough Drive #123, Charlotte
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.
With ‘Wellness is Our Birthright’ as the tagline, this organization – founded by six women of color – travels throughout Charlotte offering workshops, marketplaces and conferences. Through teachings, group discussions, yoga, meditation sessions and other strategies, leaders promote mind-body wellness, entrepreneurship, arts and culture and empowerment.
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.