October is National Women’s Small Business Month celebrating female entrepreneurs who took the plunge to start a small business. In Butler County, we have many amazing ladies who are passionate about their industries and are successful business owners. From women-owned farms, retail stores, restaurants, event planners, and event spaces, each business has its own unique story. But when hearing from every entrepreneur, there were common threads in the passion each woman has for their work, their community, and the support they express for each other. Let’s hear their stories and support women-owned businesses all year!
1. Lori Steinheiser from Peter’s Chocolate Shoppe, LLC
“[I love] Being able to create new things for our customers to try and then seeing the smiles on their faces!”
Peter’s Chocolate Shoppe, LLC is located in Butler and has been providing high-quality, exceptional chocolates, including their specialty chocolate-covered fruits to Butler County since 1938. Known as a family-run business that loves to make candy together for the community – make sure you stop by and try fan favorites like chocolate meltaways and homemade salted caramels and turtles.
Lori’s words of encouragement are, “If you can dream it, you can do it! My mom and I used to make our own candy for family and friends at home when I was growing up, now that I am grown up — my mom is working in my candy shop and so are my daughters.”
2. Nancy MacFarlane and Kelly Stebor from The Perfect Piece Home Furnishings
“[We love] creating a space that our customers call their "Happy Place!”
The Perfect Piece Home Furnishings is a 3,000 square foot showroom for new and previously loved furniture and home decor located in Zelienople. Shop in store and online to find treasures such as sofas, chairs, tables, knick knacks, candles, pillows, and more.
Nancy and Kelly’s words of advice for women interested in starting a business are, “Don't regret not taking the chance! If you're passionate about making it work, it will work! Ask for help! The Small Business Association has tons of resources and wants to help small businesses succeed. Also, network. Find people who know what they are doing in areas where you do not and ask them to help you. You can do it!”
3. Kelly Carney from Eva Bryn Shoetique
“I love being part of the community and seeing first hand how I can help my customers.”
Eva Bryn Shoetique is a high-end women’s shoe shop in Zelienople offering a personalized shopping experience. Find boots, mules, heels, trendy tennis shoes, accessories, and more in a luxurious atmosphere.
Kelly explains her passion to open Eva Bryn Shoetique, “I wanted to show my children that you can make choices to "create your life." Life doesn't just happen, you have to MAKE it happen. You have to decide to be happy. I am the happiest that I have ever been.”
4. Judy Ferree from Hotel Saxonburg
“When I turned 50, I needed a new challenge!”
Hotel Saxonburg located in Saxonburg is fine dining in a unique casual atmosphere. Find mouthwatering original recipes, such as crab cakes, lobster bisque, steaks, pasta, and more.
Judy’s words of wisdom are, “Establish good relationships with other owners in the same business.” and “Your staff is your most important asset!”
5. Kirsten Peffer and Joanie Sinz from The Two Fraus Bakery
“Joanie and I get to do what we love every day. We have been best friends for years and get to get up every day and express ourselves creatively through our baking. It has created an atmosphere of fun and positivity. We love what we do and hope that it reflects in our baked goods.”
The Two Fraus Bakery located in Historic Harmony is an all natural, from scratch bakery, specializing in breads and “not your average cookies.” Enjoy all types of scrumptious treats and be sure to stop in on “Pretzel Saturdays for a wide variety of homemade pretzels. Fan favorites include the cinnamon rolls and pretzels.”
Kirsten explains how The Two Fraus became who they are today, “Joanie and I both grew up with very talented and passionate cooks and bakers. We were both heavily influenced by strong, intelligent and talented women who taught us both that we are strong, independent and capable of achieving our dreams. We met through a mutual friend and baked together on weekends for years. We were approached by a woman who owned a farmers market and wanted to sell baked goods. The owners of Wunderbar (who we still bake for today) steered us into the right direction and we started as a home-based bakery. We were approached by our current landlord who offered for us to open a bakery where we are now located. With lots of support and encouragement from Wunderbar and our families, Joanie took the leap first to bake full time and I followed about a year or so later. We were given a lot of support by our loved ones, friends and one another and it was stressful, but totally worth it to make the leap.”
6. Valerie Cannon from Speckled Hen Chocolate Company
“[I love] Being able to specifically address a customer’s needs and strive to outperform their expectations...I love to make customers excited about giving a gift, or sharing a special event with the people they love, with something that I created just for them.”
Speckled Hen Chocolate Company is a gourmet chocolate company located in Saxonburg. They specialize in creating the most unique chocolate items imaginable, hand-dip all of their chocolates, and make their fudge in-house. Fan favorites include the fresh raspberry/blackberry tower and peanut butter fudge.
Valerie’s words of wisdom are, “Just do it. It's not easy...but If you have passion, drive, and the ability to swerve in and out of obstacles, you'll be just fine! Just ask yourself one simple question – ‘Am I happy?’ in my past jobs I would have answered: ‘well, sure...kinda.’”
7. Kelly Scott from Harmonie Laden
“There are so many challenges to owning your own business. The most challenging would be having to wear so many hats, especially starting out, to get the business started. You are the manager, marketing, buyer, social media manager, and so much more.”
Harmonie Laden is a gift and candy shop located in Harmony. Find a wide variety of home decor, locally handmade items, and your favorite candy and chocolates.
Kelly’s words of wisdom are, “Owning your own business is a learning experience. I am always learning and connecting. I am so thankful for all the other business owners in the community.”
8. Jackie Hooper from Sound Advice Entertainment, LLC
“[I love] Meeting so many wonderful people and forming relationships.”
Sound Advice Entertainment, LLC will help you secure the perfect entertainment for your next event from DJs and bands to magicians and balloon artists. They are now offering live, remote live, and personalized recorded entertainment to meet any need.
Jackie says, “I have learned to expect the right people to come into my life exactly when I need them. In contrast, I also let people go out of my life when necessary without distress.”
9. MJ McCurdy from Bottlebrush Gallery & Center for the Arts
“I've been involved in the arts starting at a very young age. For years, I taught art for other organizations. When the opportunity came for my spouse and I to own an art gallery and teach classes, I didn't think twice.”
Bottlebrush Gallery & Center for the Arts located in Historic Harmony showcases the work of 85 artists living in and originally from a 50 mile radius of town and is home to a vintage vinyl shop. They also host group and private art classes for children and adults, a women’s creative circle, a drum circle, and an Open Mic.
MJ says, “Be prepared to work hard and don't give up even if something you try doesn't work. My Women's Creative Circle idea of having women meet once a month to make art fell on its face the first time out of the gate. I took a while to think about it, then tried again, and it became very successful. COVID is the only thing that's slowed us down.”
10. Michelle Moletz from Della Terra Bistro
“I love food. I love wine, cocktails, and beer. Italian has always been my favorite, hence why I married an Italian. These things are my passion, and meeting and showing people how hard my staff and myself work to make people happy everyday is extremely rewarding. We could not have picked a better community to be a part of.”
Della Terra Bistro in Zelienople is an Italian restaurant that transforms the essence of a small town eatery. Capturing the warmth and comfort of an Italian trattoria, the restaurant serves delicious pizza, pasta, and classic Italian entrees, as well as handcrafted cocktails, wine, and beer.
Michelle’s words of wisdom are, “If you are passionate in what you do, give it your all no matter how hard it seems keep going, you will make it. You will also surprise yourself on how far you can go. Trust your instincts.”
11. Jennifer McConnell from The Sweet Gremlin, LLC
“I really enjoy baking and being creative. My husband and I talked about becoming business owners for several years. There was a need for a local bakery in our rural community. I wanted to provide a service to the members of our community. I have a deep passion to help others and give back whenever possible.”
The Sweet Gremlin, LLC is a small town, family owned and operated bakery located in Petrolia. They offer a wide variety of sweet treats along with gluten friendly and sugar free options, as well as specialize in making New York Cheesecakes and signature jumbo cinnamon rolls.
Jennifer explains that she loves, “Being part of a small community and giving back to the school district, organizations, and local nonprofits.
12. Christine Scheer from WestPark Alpacas
“It is wonderful to see both the reactions of the people AND the alpacas when meeting one another. Special too are the groups of seniors and folks, young and old, with special needs that brighten up when visiting the alpacas!”
Meet furry friends at WestPark Alpacas located in Slippery Rock. Over 33 acres and over 30 alpacas to view and visit, you can also purchase alpaca products like blankets, gloves, hats, and crafts.
Christine’s words or wisdom are, “If you don't follow a passion, you're missing out on a piece of your soul.”
13. Christine Border and Lisa Fico from The Little Green Bookstore
“[We love] Talking about books all day and meeting fellow book lovers.”
The Little Green Bookstore located in Historic Harmony is a boutique bookstore carrying adult and children’s books, as well as candles, keychains, and more. Chris always wanted to own a brick and mortar retail store combined with Lisa's passion for reading, it was the perfect match.
Christine and Lisa words of advice are, “Go for it! If you are passionate about what you are selling, you will be a success.”
14. Tracy Rittle from Lil Birdy's Antiques & Decor
“I have wanted to open my own store for as long as I can remember, but "life" always got in the way. I found myself at a point in my life where I had worked hard for so many others and contributed to their success that it was time to take a risk on myself and happiness.”
Lil Birdy’s Antiques & Decor in Butler specializes in antiques, vintage Americana, Farmhouse, and home decor. Whether you are looking to redecorate or add a “one of a kind” piece, stop in and browse two floors of treasures in this quaint house.
Tracy Rittle’s words of wisdom are, “Owning your own business is rewarding and empowering, but not easy. When you have a ‘bad-day’ (and you will) it IS a hit to your financial business plan, but it will also impact you in a mental capacity ie. ‘What was I thinking?’ ‘Did I make the right decision?’ Ultimately second guessing-yourself. I've been there...but at the end of the day, you turn to your ‘support system.’ My hubby has been my biggest supporter/cheerleader, but I am thankful that I can also reach out to so many other women who are running similar businesses/stores that I can turn to for advice or just a little ‘pat on the back.’”
15. Lauren Shorr from CURIO
“I couldn't bear the thought of someone else doing what I would love to do! CURIO started with operating hours only in the evenings and on Saturday's because my husband and I were both art teachers. Once we started to grow and needed retail hours during the day, I couldn't bear the thought of teaching in a traditional setting and having someone else run the business. So after much prayer, we took a leap of faith for me to leave my teaching position to take on CURIO Full Time. It has been the coolest decision of a lifetime and I am so blessed to be able to run our business and be flexible for our children at the same time!”
CURIO is a unique art space and gift shop that offers fine art, handmade items, art classes, and collectables. Find a gallery space featuring a local artist upstairs and collectible toys downstairs. A place where creativity and cool collide, there is so much to explore!
Lauren’s words of wisdom are, “Stick with your instincts and Keep...Moving...Forward. Sometimes ideas will be great and everyone will know about them and respond positively, and other times things will go unnoticed. Know that every decision you make and every hour you put in helps better you, your business, and someone in the community.”
16. Sherry Lynn from Pinehall at Eisler Farms
“I love weddings and I love managing my own business.”
Pinehall at Eisler Farms is a rustic and intimate wedding space located in Butler. The historic barn and beautiful outdoor venue allows for a celebration of love and happiness, while giving guests a night they will never forget!
Sherry says, “It is never easy, but hard work and dedication pays off. I don't think of myself as a woman in business just as a person in business.”
17. Claudine Rumbaugh from The Farmhouse Wedding & Event Space
“My husband and I love restoring homes. We normally restore and sell. There is something about this property that is so special. We couldn’t give it up! We wanted to share it with the community.”
The Farmhouse Wedding & Event Space located in Sarver is a modern, vintage property perfect for hosting weekend weddings, intimate gatherings, or special family events. The farm can accommodate 150 guests for your event and gives exclusive property access for the entire weekend. Turn your dreams into reality with farmhouse tables under the stars, tented weddings, or an intimate gathering inside.
Claudine shares that she loves, “Being able to help others in the community!
18. Dorothy Calvert and Alyssa OBrien from Blue Enchantmint
“All of us at Blue truly love what we do. We want to create a safe space for people to learn, feel welcome, and not be afraid to ask questions! We [also] love interacting with our customers who have truly become friends over the year!”
Blue Enchantmint located in Butler is home to five women-owned businesses. Each business is run separately, but all of the business owners work together to make Blue what it is! There is a plant lady at Bent Oak Plant C., a herbalist at The Witchn Kitchen, a crystal lady at The Penny Tree Shop, a tarot card reader at Florence Selene Tarot, and a wellness consultant at B’s Triple Moon – beauty and alternative wellness! Shop all products and experiences at the storefront in Butler.
Dorothy and Alyssa’s words of encouragement are, “Quit your day job and do it. You won’t regret it!”
19. Sylvia McCoy from Burgh Bits and Bites Food Tour
“My schedule is flexible and allows me to participate in my kids' school activities whenever possible. [But] I'm never ‘off,’ although I have a FANTASTIC team. In the end, I'm responsible for all final decisions and happenings.”
Burgh Bits and Bites Food Tour is a food tasting adventure and historic walking tour of Saxonburg and the city of Pittsburgh communities. They connect people to communities through food!
Sylvia’s words of wisdom are, “Do it. You'll find there is a support network available for women entrepreneurs.”
20. Amanda Becker from Appleseed Events, LLC
Appleseed Events, LLC connects people through meaningful charity and business events, fundraisers, community festivals, and grand openings. They believe events are like Appleseeds.
Amanda’s words of encouragement are, “Go for it! And don’t underestimate the power of relationships with other people— not only for networking sake, but just for the simple fact that different people have different gifts. Find people that are good at what you’re not good at, and don’t waste energy trying to do it all, all of the time.”
21. Suzanne Trew from Sweetwater Farms
“We got to know many members of the community by participating in farmers markets and having a roadside stand for a few years leading up to opening our storefront. Once we saw how much people valued fresh, locally sourced food we wanted to be able to provide that year round while also being about to support other local farmers and businesses by carrying their products.”
Sweetwater Farms in Harmony is a first generation family-owned small market farm.Their market is a collaboration with many other local businesses, providing a year-long farmer’s market. They carry a variety of locally sourced items such as kombucha, fresh pressed juices, exotic meats, gluten free items, maple syrup, honey, and more.
Suzanne says that she loves, “Being able to interact and connect with members of the community and meeting their needs.”
22. Erika at ShuBrew: Brewery and Food and General Shu’s
“[I love] being [my] own boss, and coming up with fun, innovative ideas for events.”
ShuBrew: Brewery and Food in Zelienople highlights great craft beer and a delicious seasonal menu made in a from-scratch kitchen utilizing cuisines from around the world and locally-sourced food from suppliers and farmers daily. General Shu’s is Shubrew’s sister restaurant across the street serving up beer and Chinese food.
Erika shares that, “[My] love of food, beer, cooking and talking to people [made me decide to take the leap to owning two businesses].”
23. Ashley Stadelmaier from Serendipi-Tea
“When my oldest daughter, Aubrey, was two years old we took her, toting our newborn baby girl alongside, to a special place in Grapevine, Texas where she experienced a dress-up tea party. I can still remember the look on her face as she looked in the mirror and just how magical it was for her. Since then, it has remained a sweet memory that has stuck with us through the last several years…. Holding onto this memory, my husband always suggested I open up a place like the one we went to in Texas. After finishing up my business degree at Penn State, I had no clue what in the world I wanted to do. I just knew I did not want to sit at a desk all day. So, this idea of Ryan's wasn't looking like such a bad idea. After some careful thought and planning, I decided to put a deposit down on our little building in Saxonburg, where I had already fallen in love with this old, storybook town. A few months later, in May 2021, we brought this idea to life. Now there is a place in Saxonburg, Pennsylvania where you can have high tea, children are welcome, and we can all get our fancy on whenever we want!”
Serendipi-Tea in Saxonburg is an enchanting and elegant tearoom, where you can enjoy delightful tea sandwiches, scones, and desserts with a pot of delicious tea. Treat yourself to a traditional high tea by reserving a table or a party.
Ashley’s word of advice is, “Don't let anyone stop you or tell you that you can't. You get one chance at life. Take it.”
24. Brandy Kelley from Shakti Yoga & Pilates
“I knew when I started practicing Yoga that one day I’d like to own a studio and be able to help others the way Yoga has helped me. After teacher training, many opportunities and jobs presented themselves to me. Some were big. In fact, I left a career in graphic arts for a role as a Yoga studio manager. All of it seemed to be aligning me with my intention. I was comfortable working for others, then one day, a devastating event threw me out of the nest. I realized this was instead a blessing, and took flight. Without questioning or doubt, I branched off on my own to open Shakti knowing that this was exactly what I was meant to do.”
Shakti Yoga & Pilates in Butler is a non-heated studio that offers experienced, quality instruction for all levels of practitioner. Ignite your personal power through supportive, non competitive classes for all experience levels.
Brandy’s words of wisdom are, “Trust and believe in yourself. Only put out into the universe what you want in return. Replace negative self talk and worry with positive affirmations and gratitude. Also, get comfortable asking for help. Networking helps to build a good support system.”