Entrepreneurship takes hard work, creativity, collaboration, and luck—and local business owners understand. Navigating the peaks and valleys of our economy, these dedicated business women have grown their careers and businesses, some boasting long tradition and others just beginning to make their mark on the community. Check out their stories.
Progressive Dental at Dominos Farms
24 Frank Lloyd Wright Drive, Ann Arbor
(734) 930-4022, www.pdadentists.com
Your business and what you do. Our dental office strives to provide our valued patients with high quality dental care. We provide full service dentistry, from complex full-mouth reconstruction auto accident cases to simple general dentistry.
How do you define success? I feel that success is defined by finding your passion and using all the talents you are given to live that passion to your utmost ability.
How did you get started? I worked my way from the ground up, from the worst nursing homes and hospitals in Detroit to premier cosmetic offices in Birmingham. I started with Progressive Dental in 2004 after being in private practice in other locations for about 6 years. I originally had a partner, Dr. David TeGrotenhuis, who retired in 2008, and I then bought the remaining 50% of the practice.
What has been your biggest obstacle? Being a very young looking woman was very difficult. I always had to prove my abilities and was second guessed and questioned constantly. That actually turned out to be what made me work harder and be the best I could be.
If you could give one piece of advice to yourself ten years ago, what would it be? Great things never happen in comfort zones.
Washtenaw Pediatric Dentistry
1820 Washtenaw Avenue, Ypsilanti
(734) 985-9114, www.washtenawpediatricdentistry.com
Your business and what you do. I am a Board Certified Pediatric Dentist at Washtenaw Pediatric Dentistry in Ypsilanti Michigan. My practice provides comprehensive dental care for infants, children, and teens, as well as special needs patients.
How do you define success? Success is a combination of personal and professional happiness and fulfillment. I love what I do each day, interacting with children, providing education and helping them create healthy habits that they can carry with them into adulthood.
How did you get started? I always knew I wanted to have a career in health care. I’m a people person so I needed a career where the majority of my time could be spent interacting with others. Early on in my undergraduate education at University of Michigan, I had great mentorship and found dentistry to be the perfect fit for my passions.
What has been your biggest obstacle? The path to becoming a Pediatric Dentist involves a lot of education. I did not see my education as an obstacle, but rather as a series of challenges. I was in school for eleven years after high school before starting my career. I went to the University of Michigan for Undergraduate and Dental School and then did my Pediatric Dental Residency and Master’s Degree at the University of California in San Francisco. It was a long road, but I always knew this was exactly what I was meant to do, and now I get the pleasure of treating my patients every day.
How do you unwind? My favorite way to relax is with a great book. I will make time to read every day, even if it is for just five minutes. I also have three cats at home who are great stress relievers!
170 Enterprise Drive, Ann Arbor
(734) 213-0017, www.motawi.com
Your business and what you do. At Motawi we design, make, and distribute distinctive and lovely handmade tile. We use a mix of modern and medieval tilemaking methods and we love giving tours of the studio.
How do you define success? When I hear people say “I love Motawi!” I know that I am enriching the lives of many people with my beautiful tiles. And…knowing that my staff is being managed in a healthy way, because they stay.
How did you get started? Motawi is a classic garage start-up. In the beginning I was simply trying to make a living selling tile of my own design and creation. The garage belonged to my parents. The rent was very reasonable.
What has been your biggest obstacle? My own limited experience. I started the company at 27 without ever working in a professional setting. I have had to learn about business along the way.
How do you unwind? I have always loved to dance, especially lindy hop and the blues. I learned how to downhill ski last year so I could do it with my teenager. He is a lot better, of course, but I like the challenge.
If you could give one piece of advice to yourself ten years ago, what would it be? If it doesn’t feel quite right, STOP. Pay attention to those little brain tickles that say “this isn’t exactly what I had in mind.”
What does your business bring to Washtenaw County? Motawi brings fulfilling employment to 33 staff members and deep enjoyment to the thousands that have Motawi tile in their homes. Our tile connects people with things, places, and people they love.
Suburban Chevrolet Cadillac
3515 Jackson Road, Ann Arbor
Your business and what you do. I work in Automotive Marketing and Advertising for the Suburban Collection specifically Suburban Chevrolet Cadillac of Ann Arbor. My job entails coordinating advertising and marketing for our store as well as working with local non-profits to give back to our community.
How do you define success? I feel the most success when I finish something and I know I did the best job I possibly could. Raising money for Raising Strides was one of those moments. We raised over $10,000 for breast cancer. It was an excellent accomplishment for us, and we are all really proud of that.
How did you get started? I got started working as a Commercial Photography Producer with Joao Carlos Photography. I also produced a documentary film with Joao Carlos. Learning that process really solidified my love of advertising and marketing.
How has that initial vision evolved? When I tackled the job of Marketing Director it seemed pretty clear cut: advertise the product. Then our vision grew into something bigger. How can we give the non-profits in our community a voice within the community? How can we partner with them to help them attain their goals. That’s really what our Suburban Cares program is all about. Giving back to our community.
How do you unwind? I love to take vacations, even if it is just a weekend away.
Ann Arbor Pto Thrift Shop
2280 S Industrial Hwy, Ann Arbor
(734) 996-9155, www.a2ptothriftshop.org
Your business and what you do. We are an independent local nonprofit resale shop benefiting the Ann Arbor Public Schools, its PTOs, PTSOs and student clubs, team, groups and other nonprofit student enrichment supporting organizations. We take donations of gently-used items of all kinds and resell them to raise funds for our local schools and students.
How do you define success? We define success in terms of the dollars provided to the AAPS community, and by the reach of our organization to all all student groups at each of the AAPS buildings. We also define success by our green service to the community— reusing and recycling items, keeping them out of the local waste cycle. We also currently employ just over 30 people in Ann Arbor.
How did you get started? The shop was started just over 20 years ago by a group of parents interested in a “green” fundraising model for our schools at Tappan Middle School in Ann Arbor.
How has that initial vision evolved? What began small, with a couple-of-thousand-dollar goal to help students meet their funding needs has grown to a much larger hundreds-of-thousands-of-dollar goal, serving very real funding needs to the district and its students in a time of financial difficulties for public schools.
If you could give one piece of advice to yourself ten years ago, what would it be? Always keep forward progress in mind, no matter what happens.
Susan M. Rose, D.O., PLC
5889 Whitmore Lake Road #4, Brighton
Your business and what you do. I am an osteopathic physician with a new practice specializing in Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine (OMM), which is the practice of treating a patient’s musculoskeletal system in order to optimize her/his health. Optimizing health goes beyond the musculoskeletal system because OMM affects the entire body, physically and emotionally.
How did you get started? I did family practice for about 20 years. Then, for several years, I worked in investigations for the state medical boards before opening this new practice in 2014. I wanted to put to use my specialization in OMM.
What has been your biggest obstacle? The biggest obstacle has been educating the public about OMM, what it is and its benefits. Since there are so few physicians practicing OMM, it is not well known by the public. The advantage of OMM over other types of bodywork is that I am a fully licensed physician who can evaluate the whole person, including ordering of appropriate testing and prescription medications if indicated.
How do you unwind? I love Michigan Wolverine sporting events and University Musical Society, with season tickets to each. I love to travel.
What does your business bring to Washtenaw County? There are only two other physicians in the county specializing in OMM. I am readily available to patients in Washtenaw and Livingston counties.
People’s Food Coop
216 North 4th Avenue, Ann Arbor
(734) 994-9174, www.peoplesfood.coop
Your business and what you do. The People’s Food Coop is a member-owned (7,800 last count) not-for-profit grocery store, cafe, and bakery. Our emphasis is on minimally processed and packaged products, produced locally, that are certified organic and/or Fair Trade whenever feasible. My job is to help the staff use their skills to make a friendly and inviting grocery/cafe environment for our patrons.
How do you define success? Success is defined by the International Coop Movement as a Triple Bottom Line, or the three P’s: people, planet, and profit. It’s an accounting framework that incorporates three dimensions of performance: social, environmental, and financial. I believe that any business that uses this system to benchmark their progress will have a better chance of succeeding for the long haul.
How did you get started? I was President of Kerrytown Shops of Ann Arbor in the 90s. We had 24 tenants. In 2005 I bought and remodeled and old 17 room hotel and restaurant in a resort town in Michigan which I operated until 2012 when I was made an offer I couldn’t refuse. I gathered up my experience moved back to Ann Arbor and found myself back in the Kerrytown neighborhood here at the Coop.
How do you unwind? Still trying to learn that art, but I like to cook and work in the garden. Oh and I gobble up books that I download from Ann Arbor District Library-.
What does your business bring to Washtenaw County? People’s Food Coop brings a way for us to truly keep Ann Arbor dollars in the community.
Colors the Clown and Company
17991 Wingate Road, Manchester
(734) 428-7926 www.colorstheclownandco.com
Your business and what you do. I am a children's entertainer, performing over 23 years in Michigan and Northern Ohio. I bring a live Animal Magic Show to festivals and fairs, company parties, community events, birthdays and other family celebrations. My petting zoo, a mobile farm exhibit, gives a hands on experience for children of all ages. Cartoon face painting and balloon designs are also part of our activities.
How did you get started? My beginning steps were my pony and clown for hire business for children's birthday parties. I grew up on a farm north of Chelsea and I was fortunate to have many animals. I have the personality of a clown, so the makeup just filled in the blanks. I understudied with Ringling clowns and other performers who travel to teach throughout entertainer groups in Michigan. I studied a little theater. A few years into my career , I performed 4 years as a Royal Hanneford circus clown.
What has been your biggest obstacle? Somebody responsible to care for my animal family when I take vacation. My lifestyle and business are woven together which makes my business part of everyday.
How do you unwind? Spending time outside in my gardens, feeding my crew of wonderful pets. I escape to Sleeping Bear Bay, Lake Michigan, if possible.
If you could give one piece of advice to yourself ten years ago, what would it be? Talk slower, send those Christmas cards, keep all the articles and pictures in a scrapbook, and make your own memories. Start your children's book, “Colors, are you a real clown?"