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10 women who are running businesses doing what they love

9 min read
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There’s a lot to celebrate in October, but at QuickBooks Capital, we think female entrepreneurs top the list. That’s why we’re kicking off Women’s Small Business Month highlighting some incredibly talented business women.

From unrelenting persistence and drive, to community loyalty and philanthropic spirits, here are some of the entrepreneurs who are helping to shape the economic landscape.

1. Sarah Gray, Creator and Co-owner of All Spun Up

When you think of cotton candy, you probably picture the iconic blue and pink puffs of sweet spun sugary goodness. But for some, this childhood favorite is off-limits. That’s particularly true for those who are sensitive to dyes or allergic to preservatives. Such was the case for Sarah Gray’s son, so she set out to make a cotton candy that was organic and dye-free.

The result was All Spun Up, an organic cotton candy company that Gray and co-founder Justine Kostechka started in 2014. All Spun up features dye-free gourmet cotton candy, making this sweet treat accessible for those who need to avoid or prefer not to ingest dyes. That may not be a big deal for some, but for kids who already struggle with dietary limitations, it’s a small victory that can bring a smile to their faces.

As Gray points out, “It’s really rewarding when we can connect with people and be able to bring joy to those families as well.” And that’s exactly what she’s done.

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2. Marie Krick, Founder of Laurel and Vine

There are a lot of factors that go into a successful business, but for many, it’s all about passion. As a child, Marie Krick’s mother would send her out into the garden to cut flowers and create a centerpiece for the table before guests arrived for Sunday dinner. She loved it, and in 2016, she let that childhood spark ignite her adult entrepreneurial journey.

That’s when she started Laurel & Vine, a professional wedding and event floral company in Novato, California. Since starting the company, Krick’s work has been featured on top wedding sites, like the Knot’s “How they asked,” and Laurel and Vine also won the 2019 WeddingWire Couples Awards.

According to Krick, she “got started as a hobby florist, and then decided to turn it into a business.” Proof that makers, crafters, and artisans can turn their passion into not only a career, but a full fledged business – as long as there’s an audience.

3. Barb Wright, Owner of the Bull & the Bee

For many people, shopping small is the way to go, but when it came to kids’ stores, Barb Wright noticed her community was lacking. That’s when she decided to address that need and open up her own boutique store, the Bull & the Bee

Wright, who had a 2-year-old when the Bull & the Bee opened in 2013, knew that parents were seeking sustainable, eco-friendly, and safe items for their children. And with that knowledge, she filled her shelves with items that would delight her core audience. She also decided to further support her community by stocking locally made items as well.

Perhaps the best lesson we could take from Wright, who is now in her sixth year in business, is that the key to sustaining success is knowing your market. And if you’re thinking about starting your own niche business, her advice supports that notion: “Find a need and fill it.”

4. Deb Chang, Founder of Ginger Labs

Opening a business takes a lot of time and energy, and a lot of business owners are forced to split commodities between a full-time gig and startup activities. Deb Chang, the owner of Ginger Lab, knows exactly what that’s like.

In the early days of her entrepreneurial journey, she spent weekdays working in tech and weekends slinging her ginger beer at farmers’ markets. Her hard work paid off.

What started off as a farmer’s market based-business now includes a production kitchen in Santa Clara, California, and an online store. Today, customers in eight states— AZ, CA, CO, ID, NV, OR, UT, and WA — can order Ginger Lab brews for home delivery.

Looking to get out of your full-time gig and start your own business? If you look to Chang for advice, she’ll emphatically tell you to “START NOW.”

5. Leigh Weinraub, Founder of Mind in Motion

Leight Weinraub wears many hats — counselor, tennis player, coach, blogger, nationally recognized speaker, to name a few. And though those roles may seem different, Weinraub seems to effortlessly link them through her positivity and a passion for helping people be “their personal best.”

It’s that desire that lead her to create a shirt that simply said “BREATHE.” The goal? To help her tennis clients take a minute to calm down, take control of their anxiety, and become centered. It worked, and Weinraub went on to create MINDINMOTION an apparel company turned universal movement whose mission is simple and focused. “To unlock the potential within each of us to love deeper, carry one another forward and become our own greatest champions.”

Weinburg operates on the belief that “simple actions can and will create powerful results.” For business owners who are often bogged down by the stresses of entrepreneurial life, that message can be valuable. Take time to breathe and trust in your inner strength.

6. Stacy & Rachel, Co-Owners of RAINRAPS

Peanut butter and jelly. Cookies and milk. Cheese and crackers. Sometimes the perfect pairing makes a world of difference. At least that’s a sentiment that Stacy Struminger and Rachel Teyssier found to be true.

In 2011, the two realized that there was a real market for stylish, lightweight, and water-repellent accessories that allowed women to walk through the rain without sacrificing function for fashion. They combined creative and logistical forces and created RAINRAPS. This fashionable water-repellent outerwear became a hit among their target market, and their wraps have even been featured on Good Morning America.

If you were to ask the two for a business tip, they’d be quick to fall back on the “perfect pair” notion: “Find a partner whose skills compliment yours.” Since running a successful business often means mastering a wide range of skills, they may be on to something.

7. Miriam Yoo, Founder of Flask & Field

Raise your hand if you’ve ever thought about taking on a whole new professional path? That’s how Miriam Yoo felt after illness struck her family and she realized life was short. Then she quit her job as an attorney and pursued her passion for hospitality and design. That decision resulted in the creation of Flask & Field, a carefully curated destination for wine, spirits, and house goods.

The leap allowed Yoo the opportunity to bring her vision to her customers, giving patrons access to “quality food for house, home, and adventure.” Today, the shop even offers classes designed to educate attendees on a variety of skills, including how to make the perfect gin cocktail.

According to Yoo, “the most important contribution you can make in this world is to be happy and spread happiness to everyone around you.” In other words, do what makes you happy, even if that means leaving the familiar and setting out for an adventure into the unknown.

8. Sandee Ferman & Callie Milford, Co-Founders of No Tox Life

Sandee Ferman was always conscious of what ingredients she put in or on her body and how those ingredients impacted the world around her. She was sensitive to perfumes and harsh chemicals, and she was passionate about natural living — she even participated in the first annual Earth Day.

In 2013, she decided to take matters into her own hands and began experimenting with making vegan, non-toxic body products. She gave successful batches to friends and family, and before she knew it, demand grew. Ferman realized there was a real need for “truly non-toxic” products, so she took the next step and, alongside her daughter and co-founder Callie Milford, started No Tox Life.

No Tox Life serves as a reminder that success often starts in a simple and meaningful quest to create something great. Today, the No Tox Life brand includes a flagship retail location and a distribution list that takes their natural products to over 600 independent stores.

9. Karen Dycaico, Owner of Dance Magic

Conventional wisdom suggests that it takes 10 years to be an expert, and when it comes to ballet, Karen Dycaico has double that. Dycaico has been in the dance scene for well over two decades, and at one point, she even co-owned one of San Francisco’s most successful dance studios.

But in 2016, she was ready to give back to her community, specifically to the youth. Today, she owns and operates Dance Magic, a dance school that is open to children between the ages of 2 and 12. She helps students learn to feel comfortable and express themselves through dance, allowing them to gain confidence in their abilities inside and outside the studio.

What Dycaico teaches the business world is that it’s never too late to do what moves you and to build a business that gives back to your community and rewards you for years of hard work.

10. Josie Gonzales, Bow & Wow Grooming

If you’ve managed to catch a QuickBooks commercial featuring Danny DeVito and a bunch of well-groomed pups, you likely already know Josie Gonzales. But it’s not her media debut that lands her on our list. Instead it’s her recent launch of Bow & Wow Grooming.

Like others on our list, Gonzales was working a full-time gig and doing what she really loved on the side — grooming dogs for friends and family. She always knew she wanted to open up her own business, but she didn’t realize it would happen so quickly. But when the perfect location showed up in her budget range, she jumped.

Opened in 2018, Bow & Wow Grooming is still young, and Gonzales, like other business owners, is dealing with the ups and downs of a new business. When asked how she competes with similar small businesses, she offers up some sage wisdom. She “look[s] at their services, and [sees] what it is that they don’t offer.” And as any marketing expert will tell you, the best thing you can do in a saturated market is show why your company is different or better than all the rest. And that’s what Gonzales is doing.

There are millions of women entrepreneurs who are making a big impact on their communities, the U.S., and the world. If you know a female business owner who is making a positive impact in your community, we’d love to hear their story.

Head to our Facebook page and let us know — be sure to tag your entry with #QBWomenWhoRock.

We want to hear from you! What do you think?

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