Ladies First: Local Women-Owned Businesses You Should Know

We had a chance to speak with a few women business owners in the area to see what keeps them motivated! Get to know the owners of some of your favorite businesses.

Washtenaw County is full of amazing and impressive women who make their own way. Their businesses work to help our community and make it a better place. We spoke with a few women who run their own businesses to see what inspires them!

kamala tree designs kerstin
Image courtesy of Kerstin Woodside.

Kerstin Woodside

Artist and owner of Kamala Tree Designs
105 N. Ann Arbor St., Saline | Facebook | Instagram

Are you a Washtenaw County Native? What do you love about our community?: I grew up in Oakland County, then moved a bit all over Michigan. I have been in Washtenaw County for about 12 years, it for sure feels like home. I love the feeling of community I’ve had since moving to the area.

To what do you attribute your success? I have great partners with the local farmers and suppliers I work with, good friends who support me, and a loving family who understands the hours I need to work. I also keep reminding myself it’s never too late to start something new.

How do you define success? Never giving up, following your dreams, and listening to your heart. Being able to silence the outside noise and focusing on what you know needs to get done and what brings you happiness.

What motivates you now? I need this world to be a better place. A long time ago, I saw Maya Angelou speak and she said when you get, you give, and when you learn, you teach. I try and follow that with what I do.

What is your favorite part about your business or field of work? I think it is important that I work with other small businesses, mainly in my own community. We need to help each other out as much as possible. I also clearly love being surrounded by flowers all the time, my company allows me to do that and gives weight to my enormous flower obsession. It really allows me to tell myself it’s ok to spend time learning about gardening and in my garden because it is for work. It is a nice, guilt-free, time for me to relax and enjoy myself. 

The most important piece of advice/wisdom I ever received was: I cannot control anyone other than myself, it’s ok to still be a work in progress and tomorrow is always a new day. And someone recently taught me a huge lesson on self-care: it’s not selfish to take “me” time and I cannot help others if I am not ok myself.

An accomplishment you’re proud of? Kamala Tree Designs has been a long time coming and huge labor of love. I overcame a lot to get the business, including an accident where I had to have physical therapy to help me move again and speak properly. I am so proud of where Kamala Tree Designs is today, I still have ups and downs but I am learning even pauses are sometimes necessary. Every day I am very proud of the work and dedication I have put into it Kamala Tree Designs. Do I wish I could do more? Sure, but I have learned it’s ok to do what I can.

I also have a non-profit called Saline Supports Our Community where I not only work with a wonderful team, but we are able to make a big difference locally. I am also the Chair of the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Task Force for the city of Saline where I do the same type of work but within the city. I am very proud to make a difference on such important issues from within the government and outside. Both are necessary avenues for change and help promote healing and learning for our community and surrounding areas.

What motivates you? My sister Marla would always say “if it’s got to be, it’s up to me.” That and wanting to see more beauty in the world probably sums it up nicely.

I’m currently obsessed with: Flowers, justice, and my children. Those things will never change.

Where you’ll find me on a Friday night: I love unwinding with good music and even better friends. If I am alone I am either reading about some of my favorite topics (flowers, crystals, or the moon) or turning my brain off with trashy TV or documentaries.

jeanys jam jean
Image courtesy of Jean Jones.

Jean Jones

Owner of Jeanys Jams 734-217-6655 | Facebook | Instagram

What was the most important lesson you learned with your business? The most important thing I have learned with my business is that it has to become #1. If not, then it will always be #2. Working for myself was almost a bit harder than working for someone else because I had to create the blueprint. 

How do you inspire other women? I like to think of myself as a representative for women; my goal is to make women feel beautiful from the inside out whether offering products or advice. 

What is your favorite part about your business or field of work? My favorite part of my business is being able to actually help and heal. I wanted to be a doctor as a young girl, but this is pretty close. 

The most important piece of advice/wisdom I ever received was: “Be Patient.” Patience was never on my side prior to having a business but that all changed while waiting for my first online order. 

An accomplishment you’re proud of? One thing that I am super proud of (but currently changing) is that I have done a majority of my business on my own — from the Customer Service, to the manufacturing of products, and the tons of research in between. 

What motivates you? I love to see others in business and the younger the individual, the more inspiring and motivating that it is to me. 

Where you’ll find me on a Friday night: I’m a homebody and enjoy being inside of the house unless the weather is great, then I’m outside trying to grab fresh air and try a new restaurant.

jessica apothecary jessica
Image courtesy of Jessica Goniea.

Jessica Goniea 

Owner of Jessica’s Apothecary & Spa
415 N. Main St., Suite 3, Ann Arbor. 734-604-5971. | Facebook | Instagram

What accomplishment are you most proud of: I am most proud that I have been able to create a successful business while staying engaged with and dedicated to my family.

Who do you look up to in your industry? Boldijarre Koronczay, President of Eminence Organics. He has built an incredible organic skincare brand and brings humor and expertise to all of his classes. Also, he overcame childhood leukemia and has remained committed to providing organic meals to children struggling with illness.

What lesson do you wish you had learned sooner? I wish I had learned to identify and address my anxiety sooner.

What’s on your bucket list? Visit the French countryside and attend the Botanica Conference for clinical aromatherapy and herbal therapeutics

What is your favorite part about your business or field of work? Providing facials that help my clients feel destressed and restored, making a positive impact on the health of their skin.

The most important piece of advice/wisdom I ever received was: Don’t take just a straight, linear path in life.

An accomplishment you’re proud of? The hard work to obtain a business loan and that leap of faith to open the Apothecary 8 years ago.

What motivates you? I’m motivated by people who seek to make the world a better place, who harness the properties of the natural world in their daily lives and who follow their passions.

I’m currently obsessed with: I avoid the word ‘obsessed’ because I feel it delegitimizes the experience of people who actually have OCD. However, I am really into spinning yarn right now.

Where you’ll find me on a Friday night: My husband and I live on a permaculture farm and we rarely leave.

the mix studios sarah
Image courtesy of The Mix Studio.

Sarah Kreiner

Owner, personal trainer, & group exercise instructor at The Mix Studios
Ypsilanti. 734-845-9105. | Facebook | Instagram

What is your favorite part about your business or field of work? I love seeing our clients find the joy of exercise for more than just losing pounds. The mental health benefits, the strength for travel and adventure, increased stamina for kids and grandkids. The joys of a strong healthy body make our lives more fulfilled and it’s incredible to watch this happen.

The most important piece of advice/wisdom I ever received was: To not take things personally. I struggled with this for years. It seriously limited my happiness and my success. The book ‘The Four Agreements’ and a special client I worked with really helped me with this. It is a work in progress to be honest.

To what do you attribute your success? I attribute my success to three things.

  1. I’ve never given myself the option to fail. 
  2.  I’m always looking one step ahead.
  3. I have been blessed to work with amazing clients and amazing trainers. It’s all about the people!

I’m currently obsessed with: Trampoline fitness. I feel like a little kid when I bounce. It’s very easy on the joints. It just makes me so happy and the time flies by. It’s also really effective so I can get the workouts in quickly, which is important for a business owner and mom. 

Where you’ll find me on a Friday night: You’ll find me at home with my adopted daughter and foster daughter and amazing husband and our dog. 🙂 

lisa rock paper scissors
Image courtesy of Rock Paper Scissors.

Lisa Roberts

Owner of Rock Paper Scissors | Facebook | Instagram

What were you doing before you started your own shop? Before I opened Rock Paper Scissors, I worked in the corporate world for Bank of America and Target! I have my MBA from the University of Florida and my BA from the University of Notre Dame in History & Poli Science 

How do you see younger generations changing your industry? The younger generation is forcing us to level up — a higher-quality website, communicating more casually how our customers want it — whether that’s via Facebook chat, Instagram DM, or a message on Tik Tok. Honestly, though generations challenge us, the pandemic changed the industry — from curbside to local delivery, gift boxes, and curating gifts for people, to even our product mix has been completely influenced by the pandemic — many of these changes will be here to stay. 

What sets you apart in the industry? I believe our creativity, humor, and obsession with pop culture sets us apart. When we can’t find something we like, we work with local artists and makers to make it. When we become obsessed with a TV show, a current event, a trend, we work to bring it into what we do at the store. 

Who is the person you FaceTime the most? I FaceTime my mom the most — she helped me get started in 2011, understands the challenges of retail and being a mom, and is my go-to FaceTime. 

What is your favorite part about your business or field of work? My favorite thing, and something I miss a ton while things are still wonky, are the laughs from our customers at the card wall. They stand there and read the hilarious cards and just chuckle — those chuckles keep us searching for funnier and more relevant cards. Those chuckles are as good as gold. 

The most important piece of advice/wisdom I ever received was: It’s a tie — in high school my dad (a college football coach and a wealth of wisdom told me) Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it. That’s something that I keep close — and something I’ve started telling my kids. More recently, and especially during the pandemic — the mantra Nobody Cares, Work Harder has been going through my head. This one really resonates with me — everyone is going through challenges, no one cares about your excuses or why you couldn’t do a or b, figure it out, and work harder. 

An accomplishment you’re proud of? I’m super proud to still be standing in three locations after last year. I’m proud of our website and the business we built overnight. I’m proud of our pivot to boxes, and of how hard we worked, day in and day out, to help our customers celebrate everything. 

What motivates you? Seeing other businesses do what they do super well motivates me — Businesses that consistently are killing it — Sava Lelcaj, Thistle & Bess, Found in Kerrytown, Zingermans, The Little Seedling, Mainstreet Ventures, the guys behind Watershed Hospitality — Good Time Charley’s, Last Word, etc. to name just a few — their innovation, their hustle, motivates me. 

I’m currently obsessed with: My Peloton, the new coffee blends we worked with Creation Coffee Co. to create at Rock Paper Scissors (they are amazing!) & Tik Tok.

Where you’ll find me on a Friday night: On my couch with my two daughters (six and ten-year-old) and husband, teaching them the art of really great 80’s and 90’s movies! So far Back to the Future and Karate Kid are their favorites — I approve 🙂 

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