To celebrate Women’s History Month, we’re spotlighting five merchant stories to cast light on the accomplishments of female business owners. These women have built businesses that prioritize the needs of their communities. From providing services that educate and empower their communities, to using their business to fund or house non-profit work, these women are inspiring to their communities and to us.
As we celebrate achievements of women throughout history this month, we’re happy to acknowledge the incredible accomplishments women continue to achieve within their communities.
Kemi Pavlocak and her husband Mike created a community-minded market in Ranchita, California serving a rural area off the Pacific Crest Trail. After their store burned down, they decided to use the situation as an opportunity to rebuild better than ever by adding a community shower, free access to clean water and a commercial kitchen they can use to make hot food. In an area where poverty and isolation are unfortunately common, the Pavlocaks are creating an important space for community connection and aid.
After 10 years of running a soup kitchen and constantly trying to raise money for those in need, Jeanette Lopez Georgiti decided to start a for-profit food truck as a way to fund her non-profit work. Following the immediate success of Salty Sistas, Georgiti was able to provide free meals for families who were struggling during the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic and to source ingredients from local businesses and farmers to help keep them in business.
Lindsay Duncan and Krystal Ferguson are the co-owners of The School – Creative Arts Education offering programs in dance, theater, aerial arts, parkour, and more. Despite having to shift to virtual classes during the pandemic, they continued to provide movement and creative arts education while prioritizing the needs of the families they serve. Since opening, The School has become a hub for the neighborhood where families can socialize while their kids get to be involved in physical activities.
Piper “Posh” Barley, the owner of Posh Hair District in Atlanta, grew up helping out in her aunt’s hair salon. When she was finally able to open a salon of her own, Barley prioritized building strong relationships with her clients, many of whom would come to her several times a month. When the pandemic stranded her clients at home without access to proper care for textured hair styles, Barley gave them access to a safe and clean salon as soon as she could. For her, helping other women feel confident and teaching them the value of proper hair care is the best part of the job.
Maureen Highland is the executive director of the Petaluma Educational Foundation, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that owns and operates the Alphabet Soup Stores. These stores generate revenue to support local schools by selling clothing, housewares, art, and books that are donated from the community. Under Highland’s leadership, Alphabet Soup Stores is staffed and operated entirely by a volunteer base dedicated to helping their community.