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Women-Owned Businesses in Emporia

March is Women’s History Month, and we’re celebrating the wave making women that shape Emporia and the Garmin UNBOUND Gravel.

Say hello to some of the powerful entrepreneurs that keep Emporia running! If you know some more rad ladies that own a business in our town, be sure to let us know!

Diana Lopez

Business: Mi Chavelita Mexican Grill. We serve burritos, bowls, nachos, tacos and more right in front of you. You tell us exactly what you want and we put it on! We have been opened since January 14th 2021. I previously co owed Salsa St Mexican Grill for almost 3 years till my partner decided to go her separate ways.

 About Diana: I have lived here almost all my life. I was born in California came to Kansas as a toddler and left for a brief period of time, but have been here ever since. I have a wonderful husband whom I have been married to for going on 13 years, we have 2 wonderful daughters one of which says will be running the restaurant as soon as she is able too ( she is only 6) and will be cooking just like her father, and another little girl on the way. We decided emporia because this is home to us. We love the town, we enjoy all the wonderful and kind people we have met , and how quiet and safe it has been. I, with the help of my husband, decided to open up a business because it had been a dream of my husbands to have a restaurant, that’s why it was pretty easy to figure out what kind of business we would have. We wanted to be able to offer a bit of a twist to the Mexican style cuisine but in a fast food way, and hoping that one day our daughters will keep on with this family business.

Best Seller: Our soups have because super popular! Although they do take roughly 20 min to prepare. The 3 foot burrito has also been a good seller as well.

Best Part of Being Your Own Boss:  I enjoy being able to spend a bit more of time with my family, I enjoy  the new things I have been able to learn along the way such as how to deal with vendors and to keep just about all customers satisfied and coming back. I have had to learn how to wear lots of different boss hats and my least favorite would have to be the bossing, that has never been my strong suit. But thankfully I have a wonderful team of employees that know exactly what to do and I can honestly say that without them I would be very lost.

Biggest Struggle Owning a Business: Well it has only been a couple of months since I have owned a business on my own, but as of now everything seems to be right on track with no struggles yet (knock on wood). I guess the only thing would have to be handling home and a business but other then that all is good!

Best Story: I don’t think we have had any stories to tell yet!

Advice or final thoughts: It’s not easy being a woman in business but it definitely makes a difference when you have a family (my kids, husband) , close friends that are like family to us,  and a wonderful team of employees that you trust behind you helping and making the work environment a great one. I would also like to thank all of our great customer for all the support because without them we would not be here!

Kim Redeker: 

Business: The Sweet Granada: a gourmet chocolate shop featuring handmade gourmet confections and the home of Pop-Choc. Open since 2004!

 About Kim: I grew up in Coffey County and have lived in the Emporia-area since 1991! My mom was retiring from a career in education and we thought it would be fun to start a business together.  The Granada Theatre was just wrapping up their capital campaign and I convinced my mom that we should do something in the south storefront of the theatre since it was going to be the anchor of an exciting new Arts & Entertainment District.  We didn’t know anything about making chocolate or even how to run a cash register, but I spent 14 years in sales and marketing before opening the shop and that experience has been helpful I think. 

Best Seller: Our sweet and salty treat of buttered popcorn, milk and white chocolate called Pop-Choc.

Best Part of Being Your Own Boss: I love setting the pace of the business vs working in the confines of someone else’s.  I also enjoy leading a hardworking and creative team.

Biggest Struggle Owning a Business: I have always struggled with having a good balance or work and home.  I tend to work too many hours.

Best Story: Many people may not know that our chocolates have been sent to some of the rich and famous such as Dolly Parton.

Advice or final thoughts: I tell people all the time that I have one regret about opening my own business and that’s that I didn’t do it sooner. 😉

Becky Smith:

photo: Linzi Garcia/Emporia Gazette.

Business: Twin Rivers Winery: An on-site winery/cidery located in historic Downtown Emporia with retail gifts available from our tasting room! Family friendly, open since 2005.

 About Becky: My family has lived in Emporia since just about its beginning, I’ve been here all my life (48 years and counting) ! I have a ton of hometown pride. Married and raised 2 kids here.  I have never thought about living anywhere else. I had managed a business for 20 years for someone else and decided I needed a change. Wanted something that you couldn’t just purchase off the internet. It was either ice cream or alcohol. I think I chose wisely. 

Best Seller: Any of our Norton wines. We are known for our Maud Wagner (first famous female tattoo artist from this area) label. We like a little rebellion. 

Best Part of Being Your Own Boss: Working with my crew. Whether it is someone new who has no experience, or someone who has a lot. You learn from each other. You should empower them so that they never want to leave you, but they

Biggest Struggle Owning a Business: Um, the pandemic??? We are a tourist driven industry and when tourists are discouraged to visit FOR A YEAR it throws you into a whole other business plan. 

Best Story: We get asked 100 times a day where Twin Rivers Winery is. We politely point out they are standing in it, and they are standing on top of our production room in the basement of our 105 year old building. (Our grapes are out in the country) Once we explain no elevator, they have complete sympathy for us. But it is a great opening for a conversation to get to know every customer individually. 

Advice or final thoughts:  I think our downtown in Emporia is unique in the fact we have a LARGE percentage of businesses ran by women. Maybe this is why we work well together and support each other. Make sure you visit ALL of us!

Susan brinkman:

Business: Bourbon Cowboy. Kansas’ only certified woman-owned 6,000 square foot, two-level, country dance bar and pool hall! Open since April, 2016!

 About Susan: I’ve been in Emporia since August of 1990. I moved to Emporia to complete my degree at Emporia State University. As often happens during these formative years, I met the love of my life, Jason and we decided to call Emporia home. After a full and wonderful career in public higher education and public mental health, I wanted to challenge myself and open a business. I wanted to make my downtown just a little nicer by restoring one of our long-time vacant properties. And I wanted to bring back a more robust live music scene to my region. Having put myself through college twice as a bartender, I knew this was an industry I would enjoy and could bring some knowledge to the table. 

Best Seller: Well, Liquor.

Best Part of Being Your Own Boss: I am not really the boss. I am the person who has taken the risk and where “the buck stops.” However, my staff are the ones who take care of our customers. They are the ones with the great ideas. We consider our crew a family. We consider the bar to be “our” bar. Our employees enjoy a great deal of autonomy; each of them makes decisions as if it were their own small business. Trusting our young people in this way is important and I’ve found they always rise to the challenge. 

Biggest Struggle Owning a Business: A Pandemic. This experience was not built into my business plan and believe me, I crashed the plan on paper many ways before signing on the bottom line of the loan documents. Our business model is one of volume– as in selling a whole lot of inexpensive domestic beers and cocktails. There are no pivots. The bills cannot be paid by selling trinkets online.

Best Story: There are so many. My first customer was David Hoover. We opened at  4pm on a Tuesday. He walked in at 4:05pm and said, “this is great, how long have you been here?” Oh, about 5 minutes, really. He ordered a PBR tallboy and became a beloved friend of our staff. He remembered their birthdays and they gave him rides to the VA and took him cupcakes. Hoover, taught our BC family that the business wasn’t really about being a bar.  Hoover passed on December 2, 2019. We miss him a lot but his lessons of humanity and belonging continue to guide us. 

Advice or final thoughts:  I love love love my business, our staff, and our customers. My world-view is much broader because of the Bourbon Cowboy.

kaila Mock:

Business: Trox Gallery and Gifts is an art gallery with a new local artist exhibition each month, accompanied by a gift shop that represents 57 local consignment artists and also offers art supplies, jigsaw puzzles and other cool art stuff! Trox Gallery opened on March 6, 2020 – two weeks before the pandemic hit. I can kind of laugh about it now, but… it was rough. I spent months agonizing over every little detail of my business plan and tried to get my financial projections as close to correct as humanly possible. Ha! 

 About Kaila: I was born and raised in Emporia. I moved to Manhattan, KS for 3 years, but then I came back to finish my BFA at Emporia State University and started putting down deeper roots in Emporia. I have loved creating and discovering art my whole life – I practically lived in the art classrooms in high school, I majored in glass-forming, photography, and sculpture and minored in art history at Emporia State University, and I was the Gallery Manager and Education Coordinator at the Emporia Arts Council for 6 years. I opened Trox Gallery and Gifts because there are so many talented and prolific artists in the area, and there was an obvious need for a new, divergent gallery to showcase their work. 

Best Seller: I started sewing face masks in June, and those have by far been my best seller. Honestly, running a small business by myself all week and then spending every spare moment at a sewing machine was insanely exhausting, but in addition to being a good seller the face masks drew in customers who normally might not have walked through my doors, and once they were inside they found some local art that they couldn’t live without. So… worth it! 

Best Part of Being Your Own Boss: I thoroughly enjoy being able to make my own decisions and showcase art that I’m passionate about! 

Biggest Struggle Owning a Business: Boundaries! With 57 artists and a whole town full of awesome customers, all of whom I consider my friends, it’s very difficult to say “no” to someone, or wait until Monday to answer a message without feeling like you’re letting someone down. 

Best Story: I named Trox Gallery after Jerry Troxell who taught art at Emporia High School for 36 years before passing away in 2015. One of my favorite aspects of having a gallery named for such a wonderful man is that people always come in and want to talk about him. So, my best story isn’t one that I tell, but it is the countless stories community members come in and tell me about how Jerry touched their lives by encouraging them or making them feel accepted, and because of those stories his memory lives on.  

Advice or final thoughts:  I am fortunate enough to have started my business in the Emporia Main Street Incubator Space, and so I share a building with the Main Street folks. The day after my Grand Opening, Emporia Main Street Executive Director, Casey Woods popped over to ask how it went and I looked him right in the eye and said, “That was THE best day of my life.” The following day I ran into him at the coffee pot and he asked how Day Two went. I replied, “It was the second best day of my life.” 

Becky Mishler:

Business: Vault Meats & Cheeses; a shop devoted to the food-curious soul. Specializing in both imported and US-made cheeses, salamis & cured meats, fresh baked bread, and a sundry of shelf-stable epicurean selections. We opened in May, 2018!

 About Becky: I moved to Emporia to attend ESU in 1998. I liked it so well I never left (except those few months I lived in NJ after college – – I came RUNNING back to Kansas!) Growing up, my family moved around a fair bit. Once I was able to choose, I put my roots down in Emporia. After nearly 20 years as a bartender, it was time to try something different; I’ve always been interested in cooking and foods from around the world, but especially European foods. We (my partner and I) decided to give our (perhaps hairbrained) idea a whirl. 

Best Seller: Red Dragon, hands down! It’s a Welsh cheddar with whole grain mustard, Welsh red ale, and a touch of horseradish. 

Best Part of Being Your Own Boss: Even after almost 3 years, I’m still learning how to be a boss, let alone how to enjoy it. Currently, I only oversee myself. (and Chad the Breadman, too, I guess)

Biggest Struggle Owning a Business: Right when I should have been hitting my stride, COVID hit, and we had to roll with that punch. In general, my biggest struggle is not knowing if I’m doing enough right or just doing enough for our community along with having to learn to leave work at work instead of constantly thinking about it when I’m home or with family. Does that ever go away??

Best Story: Our opening day, we burnt up our slicer, since the crowd that wrapped down the block led to it being run constantly for 7 hours! It was not made for that! Also, the grand opening day of the bakery, when we were giving people loaves of bread in paper bags right as they came out of the oven! 

Advice or final thoughts: Without the downtown radass women business owners to look up to, I don’t know that I would have taken the leap into doing it for myself. To be included in a list of these women is really an honor. 

 

Emporia is grateful to have an abundance of female entrepreneurs! Be sure to swing by these local businesses next time you’re in town and say hi!

 

Mai Fields

Chi Em Eats

Amber Haag

 Haag Pharmacy

Merry Whitham

Tallgrass Trends Boutique

Cindy Binder and Tammy Adkins

AKA Marketing & Promotions

 Bev Beers

Granada Coffee Company

 Deb Huth

Atherton and Huth

Janet Laird

Commercial St Diner

Sandy, Sally and Susan Kelly

Plum Bazaaar

Angie Schreiber

Cradle to Career Literacy Center

Kim Renyolds

The Dusty Trail Gift Shoppe

Staci Domeland

Sunflower Gymnastics

Michelle Malone

Malone Dental

Shelby Pederson and Shelby Fuller

Shelby’s Sassy Designs

Lindsey Ratcliff

Skin Studio

Tracy Holroyd

IM Design Group
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