LaRose spotlights women-owned businesses in Ohio

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, March 15, 2022

March is Women’s History Month, and accordingly, it is the perfect time to celebrate women-owned businesses home grown in Ohio. These women entrepreneurs have set goals and embraced challenges, all while being mothers, sisters, daughters and business owners. From nail salons to accounting firms, these talented women do it all and work tirelessly to keep Ohio’s economy moving.

“These women inspire entrepreneurs across the state every day with their ingenuity, determination and perseverance,” LaRose said. “I applaud them, as I do every other business owner in Ohio, for pursuing their dreams, taking risks and starting businesses.”

Seven businesses from Franklin, Shelby, Ross, Carroll, Morgan, Lucas, and Cuyahoga, are represented below.

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The W Nail Bar – Columbus
What started as a business for women to leverage their cosmetology talents in a clinically safe way has now turned into a luxury salon chain across the Midwest.

Sisters Manda Mason and Lauren Hunter are passionate about the nail industry, and the W Nail Bar now operates 12 salons across four different states since its launch in 2015. With their industry revolving around beauty, they look at their work as a way to empower women, and they treat their customers and employees with the same philosophy.

Empowering women is their “Why” and their passion, which Lauren said was their inspiration for their business while also allowing them to positively impact their community. Collaboration and partnerships have been crucial in the W Nail Bar’s path to success as it partners with DSW and has several locations inside of DSW Stores, drawing in clients who might be shoe shopping and be in need of a pedicure!

Panel Control – Anna
Prior to opening Panel Control, Sandy Wells worked with her husband and his brother at Wells Brothers – a industrial construction business. Because of her entrepreneurial spirit and ambition, she decided to branch off on her own and make Panel Control an entirely different division of their business that focuses on custom electrical control panels.

Since starting Panel Control, Sandy said that it has been a rewarding experience, just as much as it has been a challenging one. With there being a lack of qualified individuals in her field of work, she said she is very lucky to have the hard-working team that she does, who surprise their clients daily with excellent service. Sandy’s advice for other women entrepreneurs is to be yourself and realize that your field of work isn’t always about making money.

It’s important to find the joy of owning your own business and helping the community around you. She also believes a leader must inspire and encourage their team, as not only can it make your business model work better, but will also benefit your employees after the work day is done.

Open Blossom Soaps – Chillicothe
Maggie Davis is a 5th generation soap maker in the Chillicothe area. She grew up surrounded by positive female artisans like her mother, aunt and grandmother, who inspired her to start her own business in 2016. Maggie brought in extra experience as she is also a licensed massage therapist and aromatherapist.

One of the challenges she faces is balancing time with her daughters while also making time for her business. Maggie loves evolving her products and making new things as new trends come along. She views each sale as a success, and she is now at the point as a business owner at which she is supplying other small businesses with her products at wholesale costs which she said is her reminder that “I’ve made it.”

Her advice to other women business owners is to believe in your work and be proud of yourself. Maggie believes in surrounding oneself with like-minded and supportive people who will help you succeed as a business owner.

The Van Horne Grand Tea Room – Carrolton
Before Randi Blake became the owner of the Van Horne Grand Tea Room, she was a kindergarten teacher for 40 years. She was drawn to the Historic Van Horne as she has always appreciated history, antiques and ‘all things elegant.’

Randi purchased the historic and charming building in downtown Carrollton in 2019, the same day her first grandson was born. The Van Horne Grand Tea Room offers a variety of cakes, cookies, scones, teas, coffee and entrees to enjoy. Randi said the most rewarding part of being a business owner is the friendships they have created with Carroll County. Randi’s advice for other women business owners is to do everything with passion, follow your dreams and to make your work something you love because then you’ll never work a day in your life.

Meyers Specialty Market – McConnelsville
Sarah Griesmeyer has always had a love for food and baking. When Sarah wasn’t homeschooling her kids, she would bake and do small catering jobs for extra income. After moving to Ohio, an opportunity to purchase a specialty grocery store arose she jumped on it. Sarah said the pandemic has had the largest negative impact on the market, due to the lack of food supply and the increase of families needing to cook at home.

But success came for Meyers Specialty Market with the help of the Morgan County community. Many businesses in the area teamed up to help promote and showcase local products and services via social media and word of mouth. Sarah said among all the businesses in the area, her business and a few other women-owned businesses were able to survive the pandemic and thrive off each other’s support.

Sarah took this community outreach a step further and became a board member of the Morgan County Convention and Visitors Bureau, a general board member of the Morgan Community Fund, a citizen representative of various village oversight committees and an advisory member of the Morgan County Extension.

Sarah now understands that women business owners don’t have to do it alone. She learned a lot about entrepreneurship from other business owners who were excited to help and answered any questions she had.

Sarah tells new business owners to seek advice from those who have walked the path before you as they were once where you are now and always want to help.

Darlene Knapp and Associates – Waterville
Darlene Knapp is a driven entrepreneur. She started her accounting firm to prove to herself that she could start a business and make it successful from the ground up.

She had always admired other small business owners and their hard work, and Darlene now loves being able to help them with their financial statements and tax returns. Darlene knows sometimes it’s hard to find a ‘work-life’ balance, but her hard work has also shown her how hard she can push herself to be successful.

She learned that as a woman business owner, it is more than okay to take command of the room and speak up.

The more confident she is toward her clients, the more business she gets.

Darlene’s tips for other female business owners are to set goals for yourself and don’t second guess your dreams. Finally, making a ‘pros and cons’ list can be helpful but don’t forget to include your passion in the pro column in nice bold letters.

Jennasis and Associates – Berea
Jennifer Malcom decided she wanted a better work-life balance for her and her family. So, she started a digital marketing firm that focuses on book publishing, content creation and more.
She and her clients have learned a lot about patience over the last two years with most marketing budgets being cut, but she managed to stay afloat.

In fact, just last year Jennasis and Associates celebrated its 10-year anniversary, winning multiple awards along the way, such as the NSME Akron/Canton Achievement in Excellence Award in 2015, the SME Distinguished Marketing and Sales award in 2020, and the Constangy Work/Life Balance award in 2021, just to name a few.

Jennifer loves supporting other women in her community and across the state. She started a non-profit called Jennasis Speaks, helping women feel empowered and providing a sense of togetherness through the myriad life challenges women face.

Her advice for other women entrepreneurs is to not let anyone ever tell you what you can and cannot do!