Wonder women of the Triad
By: Katie Murawski, Jennifer Zeleski, Jocelyn Jones and Heather Dukes
As you read through this week’s issue, you probably noticed that most stories have been about women. March 8 is International Women’s Day, which commemorates the Women’s Rights Movement and the whole month of March is dedicated to National Women’s History Month. YES! Weekly would like to celebrate by showcasing the women of the Triad who devote themselves to serving the public and those who own businesses that strengthens the community.
Anna Freiberg is the owner of Bender’s Tavern, located at 4517 W. Market St. #A, in Greensboro. Although she may not be taken seriously at first, she believes some of the pros of being a woman-owned business in the Triad is that people don’t expect her to know the things that she does. She said this gives her the power with the element of the surprise.
One of the most challenging aspects of running her own business is, as a woman, she said she has to fight a little harder to be heard. Her advice to any young, (or older) women out there thinking about starting their own business is to “follow your dreams.”
“If you have conviction, pursue your dreams,” Freiberg said. “Be about your business. Just because you are a woman, don’t let anyone stop you from pursuing your dreams.”
Bender’s Tavern is open daily from 11 a.m. until 2 a.m. Follow Bender’s Tavern on Facebook (@benderstaverngso) to keep up with upcoming events and specials.
Becky Patterson owns the boutique Sisters on Tate, located at 330 Tate St. in Greensboro. The shop first opened on the iconic Tate Street on the campus of the University of North Carolina Greensboro and is still going strong 20 years later. Patterson stated in an email that some pros of owning her own business are making her own schedule and making changes quickly.
“I have three kids, and it has allowed me to have three kids,” she wrote. Patterson said that a con of owning her own business is the busiest month of December, and having less time to spend with her family. Patterson said that a challenge she faced and overcame is how to be a leader and still be true to herself. Patterson’s advice to young women is to, “have a good network of people to bounce ideas on, work hard day-in and day-out, be good in math so you can know if you are making [a] profit or losing.”
Pay Patterson a visit at Sisters on Tate, follow Sisters On Tate on Facebook (@SistersOnTate) or visit www.sistersontate.com/ to see all the clothes and accessories she has to offer.
Camille Halvorsen is the owner of Speakeasy Tavern, located at 1706 Battleground Ave. in Greensboro. She wrote in a text message that she has never viewed herself as a “female business owner” but rather, just a business owner.
She said the pros of being a business owner is being her own boss, having a flexible schedule, providing jobs to the community and supporting other local businesses. Halvorsen wrote that the con of being a business owner is being the last person to get paid. She wrote that she would advise new female entrepreneurs before they open their own businesses to have experience with the business they are opening, to know themselves, be honest with themselves and “don’t be a jerk.”
“Owning your own business takes a lot of self-discipline [and] a lot of financial discipline,” she wrote in a text message. “If you screw up or don’t feel like performing one day, who’s going to get on you for that? Nobody. You have to be able to hold yourself accountable and be a self-starter.”
When things go up in flames, Carol Key is there to fight them. After starting firefighter training with her husband back in 1998, Key has been climbing the ladder of the fire service industry for almost 20 years while wearing a 60-pound uniform — and loving every minute of it. She was promoted in September 2017 from Station Captain to Battalion Chief in Greensboro and says the pros outweigh the cons of the industry. “There’s a lot of ticking and playing that happens in the fire service,” Key said. “When I got [into the industry], I had to ask myself, ‘are they giving me a hard time because I’m the female or are they giving me a hard time because I’m the rookie?’” She took her growth with stride as her positions changed, and learned to bypass situations that might have occurred behind her back, “because there [are] definitely people who have the opinion that women do not belong in the fire service,” Key said. But despite 24-hours-on and 48-hours-off shifts with her husband’s opposing schedule, she has found that her job allows time for her to be a mother and a wife, while training and leading in rewarding ways.
Coco Denson, the owner of Coco Exotics, grew up watching her mother and family members own businesses. After coming to Winston-Salem, obtaining a criminal justice degree and becoming a new mother of twins, Denson decided to put her plan to own a business into motion. Coco Exotics has just gotten off the ground and offers adult sips and treats to the Winston-Salem area. “I currently have 13 signature cocktails,” Denson said. “And my treats consist of cake pops, marshmallow pops, puddings, parfaits and more.” Although she has been offered some advice and feedback on being a female business owner, she has found that the way to handle everything is not written down in the books. “Being a wife is not the easiest job, being a mom is not the easiest job,” Denson said. “But I juggle everything on my own because of my background in New York; I always had to be on my feet.” Aside from the challenges, some of the best advice she has been given in the process has been “just to be aware, always keep a smile on your face and don’t be naive,” Denson said. Follow Denson on Instagram (@cocoexotics) to learn more about the launch of Coco Exotics on March 17.
Connie Barber is the owner of Peace Out Vapes (located in Winston-Salem at 170 Hanes Mill Ct., High Point at 2140 N. Main St. and Kernersville at 1405 North Carolina Hwy 66 S Suite E). Barber decided to stop smoking cigarettes in January 2013 and switched to vaping. Barber said a pro of being a woman-owned business is that she can actually own a business. She said as a woman, there is more compassion for others, especially in an industry where she is helping people. She said the con has been the lack of support for her business in the community.
“This industry that I am in, we don’t get business loans,” she said. “It has been a little bit of a struggle to gain the respect of other business owners of this community in general because we have been characterized as pretty much an unfavorable business. My main goal was to help people quit smoking, I had been smoking for over 25 years and had tried to quit, and this was the only thing that worked.”
As far as advice for women who want to start their own retail business, Barber said to have a passion for what you are selling, be educated about the product and reach out to other women in the community for help.
From being stuck in a relationship involving domestic violence to starting off in the corporate world, to eventually owning her own bar, Danielle Bull has had an incredible journey. Bull is the owner of Bull’s Tavern, located at 408 W 4th St., a bar based in Winston-Salem. She started out as a bartender and from there climbed her way up to owning her own bar.
Bull said a pro of being a woman-owned business in the Triad, is how she is viewed as a role model. She said both her and Tiffany Howell of Burke Street Pub are the only women in Winston-Salem that own their own bar. Bull said some of the cons of being a woman-owned business in a male-dominated business is dealing with misogyny. Which she said is something that she, unfortunately, deals with now more than ever.
However, her advice for young women thinking about opening their own bar, or any business is to “stay true to yourself.”
“I would say don’t talk yourself out of it,” Bull said. “Follow your dreams, but know exactly what you’re getting ready to get into financially. Stay true to yourself and your initial vision, but let your vision evolve as it needs to.”
Danielle Moore is the owner of Moore Ways To Success, LLC which is her own counseling firm, located at 500 W. Fourth St. in Winston-Salem, where she specializes in connecting mental health and education.
Moore said the pros of being an African American woman-owned counseling firm is that she has become a trailblazer and she has found people who are interested in helping and getting information from her because she is doing something new. The con she said, is that minority women are not always exposed to entrepreneurship and being in leadership positions as children.
“It’s not really a con as much as it is a learning experience, and it is more of a mindset shift,” she said.
Moore’s advice to other women who may want to start their own business is to become educated in their field, commit to themselves, look at the big picture and surround yourself with a good support system, without totally depending on your support system.
Her kick-off event to launch her new program is called “Cool Kids Have Counselors” is in May. She hopes it will help remove the stigma attached to seeking mental health with children.
Heather Brooks owns a real estate firm in High Point called, Highway Realty of the Triad and it is located at 3925 Sedgebrook St. Ste. 109. Brooks has owned her own firm since 2004. Brooks said that a con of this business is that it takes longer to get respect and get taken seriously as a woman. She added that a pro is, “after you get established, I feel like you get more support.” Brooks’s advice for young women that want to start their own business or realty firm is to “go for it” and not to wait because “someday is not a day of the week.”
“I’m a mother of three, and I think that it is harder for people with children to think that they don’t have the time or that they can do it,” she said. “And you can, you just have to prioritize and juggle a little bit.”
Brooks also wants people to know that there is a first-time homeowner down payment assistance program that starts in March and people can get up to $8,000 for their down payment. She said people in the public service industry could get up to $6,000 in assistance as well.
Brooks said the best way to get in touch with her is through her email, email@example.com; Facebook page, @highwayrealtytriad or website, www.heatherbrooksonline.com.
Jenn Graf is a woman who helps the Triad stay in style. She owns a vintage consignment shop, called Vintage To Vogue Boutique that has vintage and contemporary clothing as well clothing made by local designers. She also has a program called Recreate where you can bring something in or buy something from the store and have it altered, or updated. This program allows customers to be the designer, with the help of Graf and the seamstress that works at the shop.
Graf said some pros of owning her own shop is “a lot of people enjoy the store, and I take an interest in customers. Women offer a softer touch.”
Graf also stated that a con or challenge is “that small retail business have competition with other avenues such as online businesses such as Amazon.” Graf’s advice to others wanting to start their own business is being informed and having experience.
“The biggest thing, do your homework, don’t rush into it. Gain knowledge about what you want to do before you do it. Learn as much as you can and educate yourself. Get experience and meet with people. Most important thing is experience.”
Maya Kabi is not afraid to get her hands dirty. She is the owner of a general contracting and home remodeling company, Lenopy Painting and Renovation based out of Winston-Salem. She said the pros of being a woman-owned business in this field is that it adds a “uniqueness” and a way to get noticed since there aren’t as many local women in this field. Kabi said the advice she would give young women who are thinking about starting a business is to seek out mentorship.
“It doesn’t have to be another woman at all, it really can be anybody that you trust and think can give you good honest advice about what you want to do in your career,” Kabi said. “They have a great knowledge base, and experience is the most important gift that somebody can give you in terms of what they did right and wrong. They also may have connections to individuals that can help you gain access to resources and bring you into potential marketing. These things will help you, especially initially. I’ve made, and am still making a ton of mistakes, so I wish I had taken the initiative to ask for more help than I did.”
Need some renovations? Call Kabi and get a free estimate at (336) 529-3948 or visit www.lenopypaintandrenovation.com
Jessica Lowe is a telecommunicator for Forsyth County Emergency Services. Lowe said a telecommunicator processes emergency calls for medical services and fires for Forsyth County. She was also a paramedic for seven years before getting injured three years ago on the job and moving to telecommunication. Lowe said the hardest part of her job is getting callers to calm down, give telecommunicators the correct information and all the details as quickly as possible.
“We have calls that hit personal aspects for women like, for children or the elderly, not only for women but all telecommunicators and emergency services personnel have that one call that tends to get them from time to time.”
Lowe also states that another hard part is never knowing what to expect when picking up the phone.
She said that an advantage of being a woman in her field is that “women sometimes have a slighter edge because they are able to use their compassion that they have as mothers and daughters.”
Lowe’s advice to young women is to come in and be driven and to have a goal and to “never stop pushing until you obtain that goal.”
Rather than waiting for the opportunity to rent an Oscar-nominated movie on DVD, or stream foreign films online, Lawren Desai had the idea to turn an available space on Fourth Street in downtown Winston-Salem into the home of a genuine, arthouse cinema, known today as a/perture, a two-screen house cinema and nonprofit organization.
She held the title of owner, which transitioned to executive director with the switch to a nonprofit, but Desai never found any cons to being a female business owner. “I ignored or didn’t notice if there were any issues [with being a woman],” she said. “I just charted a course and stuck to it.” She has made it a point to hire as many women as she can at a/perture because she feels a sense of responsibly to support the next generation of women. For those who might feel the same calling, Desai said that when she began, there was a lack of networking opportunities in the area, but now is the time to take advantage of many that have come to be over her career.
“Meet as many people as you can and just do it,” she said. “You can wait and research and have all these plans, but in the end, at some point, you have to step out, take a risk and take the leap of faith.”
Michelle Rambo is a patrol officer for the Greensboro Police Department and has been for almost two years. She said as a patrol officer; she mostly gets calls for domestic disputes and suspicious activities. Rambo goes to work at 4 p.m. and goes home at 3 a.m. Rambo is in her early 20s and said a con of being a police officer and a woman is that people may not take her seriously.
“I have gone to some calls where it’s not like I am the only female officer that responds and some people make the smart comments of like ‘oh it can’t be that serious because they sent female officers,’” she said. “You have to brush it off.”
She said standards for females in the academy are the same for males; she said they do the same physical fitness and are held to the same academic standard.
She said a pro of being a police officer as a woman is being able to help females who call and need help, but who may not necessarily trust men or male officers.
Rambo said the biggest misconception about Greensboro police officers is that even though they may be viewed negatively, she feels that she is working at GPD to make a difference. As far as advice for other women who want to pursue law enforcement, Rambo (who is a small, petite woman) said not to let something such as size, physical strength or anything get in the way of pursuing their dreams.
Revision Vintage and Oddities, located at 313 E. Market St. in Greensboro, is a team-effort for co-owners Lindsey Sprague, Pam Cooper, Brittany Rudd, Kristin McGhee and Kim McHone. The quintet said a pro of collaboratively owning a business together and as women, is that they have been able to be in business without loans or investors.
“(We) think that has shielded us from some of the sexism that’s so prevalent in the business world,” they wrote in an email. “We’ve been able to do this for ourselves, on our own terms.”
The owners of Revision Vintage said if there are any other women who want to open a vintage shop, they are behind them 100 percent.
“ We started out renting a warehouse space where we ran our online shop and hosted monthly pop-up shopping events, and after a year we grew out of the space and moved into our current location. There is always room to grow, and if you do it gradually, you’ll be able to define your goals with more clarity because you know what has worked for you and what hasn’t. We know it’s different for everyone, so if you ever want to talk shop, stop by the store or send us an email! We’ll be more than happy to chat with you. We support more women, trans, and non-binary folks getting into business for themselves.”
Tamra Dick is the owner of Dirty Dogs, located at 2511 Battleground Ave., a self-service dog wash and grooming service based in Greensboro. According to the website, Dick has over 11 years of experience working in a veterinary setting and has been an animal advocate for fostering and placing dogs in good homes for over 23 years.
She believes the pros of being a woman-owned business in the Triad is the satisfaction she receives from being able to work with the public, as well as with four-legged, furry friends. She has a passion for animals and loves being able to assure her customers that Dirty Dogs is a safe and friendly place for them to bring their animals.
Dick said the advice she would give to any young women contemplating starting their own business is to “go for it.”
“I definitely say if you’re a young woman, get in there and take that leap of faith,” Dick said. “I feel like my mom definitely influence my decision to take that leap. I’m glad I did, and I wouldn’t change anything that I’ve done so far.”
Does woman’s best friend need grooming? Take your pup to Dirty Dogs on Battleground Avenue or visit the website for more information: www.dirty-dogs.net.
Tiffany Howell became the owner of Burke Street Pub in 2015, after trading in her cocktail shaker as a bartender, for “the best relationship you’ll ever have,” Howell said. Despite an original plan for a career in the legal industry, Howell returned to Winston-Salem in 2009, feeling that Burke Street was always home, and was able to buy the bar from her mentor, Burke Street’s former owner, about six years later. She believes the bar itself is not just the party palace of Winston-Salem but that its an institution of the city, especially after being in business for 20 years. Howell said that throughout her time in the industry, she has been met with nothing but respectful relationships and never let being a woman be chalked up to a shortcoming in any aspect. She is one of two female bar owners in Winston-Salem and finds the bar-owning community a pleasure to be a part of, especially because it revolves around people. “I think in business, it really is the way that you treat people that makes all the difference,” Howell said, “You could be the customer walking to Burke Street any day of the week, early in the afternoon or late at night, and there’s always going to be somebody there you know.”
Shana Wilkinson owns the alternative tobacco shop, Smokey Shay’s, with two locations at 2416 Spring Garden St. in Greensboro and 1005 Burke St. in Winston-Salem. Wilkinson is almost 35 years old and was a public school art teacher in High Point, Winston-Salem and Greensboro before she was a business owner. Her shop sales pipes, rollers, scales, coils and wraps.
Wilkinson said a con of being a woman-owned business is sexism that she experiences. “Customers walk through the door, and they don’t immediately recognize me as someone with authority,” she said. “I have been asked many times, ‘can I speak to the manager or the owner?’ And I am like, ‘why don’t you think I am that person?’” However, she said a pro of owning her own business is “little do they know, we generally make much more than the men-owners anyway.” Wilkinson advice to young women is to “be ready to work.”
“You have to be the one who handles pretty much everything,” she said. “Put your dating life on hold for a few years until you get your business where you want it to be.” She said to be ready to date your business.
Simonne McClinton is the owner of M’Coul’s Public House, bar and restaurant in downtown Greensboro, which has been up and running for almost 16 years.
McClinton said the pro of being a woman-owned business in the Triad, is the ability to creatively express herself through her business. From menu design to the people she works with, she gets to make all the decisions. A con, unfortunately, is sexism.
“I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to convince people the pub is mine,” McClinton wrote in an email. “The beer world especially could be extremely sexist. I had to really fight to be taken seriously and get the products I needed and wanted to make the pub what I wanted.” She also said a con of owning her own restaurant and bar is balancing family and work. She wrote that restaurant ownership means the job never ends.
Her advice young women who are thinking about starting their own business is simple.
“I try to go into each day remembering that everyone has battles, and kindness is the best way to approach most situations,” said McClinton. “Just don’t let kindness be mistaken for weakness because you will always be faced with difficult decisions. You can be kind and strong.”
Simonne McClinton emailed the editor on March 7 and said her last response “you can be kind and wrong” was autocorrected in her email and should have stated, “you can be kind and strong.” The change has been made to the online version of the article.
Jenn Graf’s last name is misspelled once in the print version of the article. It has been corrected in the online version.