Boston’s She-Village Caters to Women-Owned Businesses

By Ranelle Porter,

By Michael Givens | October 20, 2018 | 3 Minute Read

During the summer of 2018, we saw innovation take root in Boston’s Seaport District with the arrival of The Current, a “pop-up” village of small shops on Northern Avenue that will rotate every six months. The Current’s first theme of shops is She-Village, which brings together nine women-owned businesses, each of which has its own small retail space.

“For us, being a Boston-based business, this has been an excellent opportunity for us to participate in our city,” said Jay Adams, co-founder and co-owner of Brass, a chic boutique catering to the modern woman. “It’s been a great chance for women to come in and experience the brand in person.”

Adams said that the store’s brand focuses on helping women simplify their wardrobes so that they can focus on the things that matter.

“Women experience a lot of frustration and anxiety when it comes to what they should be wearing, what is the appropriate dress code, [and] what can they wear that makes them feel comfortable and powerful,” she said. “We really are designing with our customers in mind.”

Brass bills itself as a guide shop, meaning that clients come in, try on different outfits, make a selection, and have the items mailed directly to them in their correct size.

Take a stroll down the sidewalk and you’ll come across Monica + Andy, a She-Village retail store catering to mothers and mothers-to-be. Sarah Kuhl, a manager with the store, is sure to welcome you with a warm smile and plenty of enthusiasm about the unique services of the baby boutique.

“We are big into experiences,” she said. “It’s not just about coming in, shopping, and leaving. We have classes and events for expecting moms and new moms, so it’s kind of [similar to] building a community. It really draws people in to associate with the brand more.”

Other than selling products, Monica + Andy offer music and story time classes and provide shared spaces where professionals such as lactation consultants can come in to offer workshops on breastfeeding. With six locations across the nation, the store has plans to open three more shops this October.

If you’re in need of some accessories, pop into The Giving Key, a Los Angeles-based shop that offers fashionable accessories along with a philanthropic mission. Items such as necklaces and bracelets are emblazoned with words such as “Hope” and “Believe.” The store encourages customers to purchase an item, use it for as long as they need it, and then pass it along to someone in need. The 10-year-old store makes it a point to hire and employ those transitioning out of homelessness to help provide them with greater economic opportunity.

“Being in the retail sphere, you don’t normally get to work for people who have a really great mission,” said Colleen Behuniak, the She-Village store manager who’s been with the company for three months.

But fashionable clothing and accessories aren’t all She-Village offers. Orly Khon is full of beautiful botanical bouquets.

“At Orly Khon floral we specialize in botanical styling,” said the company’s owner and namesake, Orly Khon. “Everything from fresh-cut floral designs for events and flower arrangements and plants for weekly corporate clients and artistic styling services, to plant styling for homes. We do a lot of customized arrangements designed to reflect our client’s personal spaces and personalities, as well as their likes and dislikes.”

Khon said that she deeply appreciated being brought into The Current’s premiere pop-up project and that it’s a wonderful opportunity to show support of female business owners. “Women have stepped out in the last decade so much, showcasing talent, great ambition, and helping communities become progressive in giant steps,” she said. “We are lucky to live in a part of the country where I personally have never felt obstacles in owning a business.”

Visit the She-Village in Boston’s Seaport District to support women-owned businesses.

Woman-Owned Small Business, Always in Bloom, Brings Bright Flower Arrangements to Customers

By Ranelle Porter,

By Miriam Schwartz | July 13, 2018 | 2 Minute Read

The Always In Bloom flower and gift shop is so much more than it seems. Having spent more than 35 years as a flower design professional, owner and operator, Sharon Monteiro, is a pillar within the Marion, Massachusetts, community. Aside from being a place to pick up a bouquet, Always In Bloom is a gifting destination welcoming loyal customers and new faces. Monteiro’s unique touch is everywhere, as she personally curates the shop’s tasteful selection of gifts—from jewelry to home decor items.

Monteiro, along with four full-time and four part-time employees, services the south coast Massachusetts area, and was voted the number one florist in Marion, Rochester, and Mattapoisett. Even for someone with nearly four decades of experience, running a successful flower business in the era of online-based flower brokers is tough. “Our industry is dying—it’s hard to find a good, old-fashioned flower shop,” says Monteiro. “But our growth has been amazing. We get referrals from Cape Cod to Boston and Rhode Island.”

Her expert eye for flower design has helped Monteiro launch her business, but it’s the personal relationships she has with her customers that have continued to propel Always In Bloom forward. “I know the industry very well because I’ve worked in it since I was 18, but I’ve had a lot of clients since the 1980s that are very loyal to me and I’m so grateful for that,” she says. Monteiro greets every customer and enjoys getting to know them by name.

Walking into Always In Bloom, you might think it’s a tiny shop, but wander through and you’ll find three different showrooms and a selection of hard-to-find flowers from all over the world. The shop also makes all of its own wreaths in-house, guaranteeing that customers will get something fresh and one-of-a-kind.

According to recent data from SCORE, a nonprofit resource partner with the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), the number of women-owned business is growing at five times the national average. There are currently more than 11 million woman-owned small businesses supporting nearly 9 million jobs and 1.6 trillion dollars in revenue. But there are still many challenges for women-owned businesses, including the ability to find sources of financing and cash flow. Men were 9 percent more likely to seek financing than women, and men were 3 percent more likely to successfully acquire loans or equity financing. The biggest differences in funding sources between men and women came from credit cards and equity from investors. Seven percent more women reportedly use credit cards as funding for their businesses as opposed to men.

“As a small business owner, I kept thinking when do I just get to sit back and go on vacation and just watch the business? I don’t. You have to be hands-on. I’m doing what’s in my blood. I love to design, but I’m busy running the business,” Monteiro says of her need to find a balance between creating the hundreds of wristlets and boutonnieres for prom season while running the day-to-day operations of her business.

“The struggle is real for women business owners. It’s seven days a week, it’s a lot of work,” says Monteiro. “I’m very proud of it. I have a couple of great mentors. I had to struggle to make it work after losing a partner in business, and I had lots of sleepless nights, and now I’m happy to say that I own everything and that I built this business.”

Support local, women-owned businesses and visit Always In Bloom.