November 19 is Women’s Entrepreneurship Day, and we are here to celebrate it! So many of the incredible businesses in northern Michigan are run by smart and creative women—it was hard to just pick a few for this story! From restaurants to breweries to retail, check out how four Traverse City women created successful and beloved businesses in our community.

Soon Hagerty of The Good Bowl

Vietnamese Restaurant | Downtown TC | Opened July 2018

 

Soon Hagerty at the Good Bowl

1. What inspired you to start your business? 

My partner Tony Vu and I started The Good Bowl as a way to thank the U.S. for taking us in since I am an immigrant from Vietnam and Tony’s family also immigrated from Vietnam. I was one of “Boat People” in the mid-70s who came to the U.S. after my dad fought for the American side of the war. We are so grateful for this country and what it has enabled us to do in our lives and with our families. I also moved to Traverse City from Los Angeles and recognized the need for more international and ethnic cuisine. 

2. What are one or two of the hurdles you had to overcome when getting your dream up and running? 

This is my third business I have started but my first foray into the restaurant business, so there was definitely a learning curve and continues to be! One of the hurdles I had to overcome was to not just do a cookie cutter approach to a restaurant model where it was just about the profit and food. I wanted it to be about our employees first and also about our mission to make an impact locally, nationally, and globally with our $1 per bowl donation program. 

3. What do you love about having a business in TC? 

There are so many things I love about owning a business in Traverse City including the close-knit group of people who truly define the word “community” for me. I mostly have grown up in big towns and cities, so living in TC really showed me what community is also about. The people in TC are truly some of the most caring and warm people I have ever met. 

Order takeout from The Good Bowl by visiting www.goodbowleatery.com or calling (231) 252-2662.

 

Karen Hilt of My Secret Stash

Gift Shop | Downtown TC | Opened May 2014

 

Karen Hilt of My Secret Stash

1. What inspired you to start your business? 

The shop was named after my bath and body care line, which was also the inspiration for opening the shop. I’m a fourth-generation soap maker and crafter and did art and craft shows around the Midwest for about four years prior to opening the shop. I met tons of fantastic makers, artists, and designers and we all were always looking for galleries to carry our work. 

My background was in retail management, so it was an easy jump to opening my own shop. I simply contacted my friends from over the years and invited them to show and sell in the store, and here we are nearly seven years later! We are home to over 100 Michigan makers as well as many from around the US and a few national brands as well.

2. What are one or two of the hurdles you had to overcome when getting your dream up and running? 

When we were getting up and running, there were definite hurdles. Certainly cash flow was one. Also, learning the whole marketing/social media aspect is very different when you’re a one woman show. Luckily, we figured things out, kept growing, and are fortunate enough to keep the shop changing so there is always something new to see.

3. What do you love about having a business in TC? 

The best part of having a business in downtown TC is most certainly the community. Hands down. Our neighbors are like family. Our customers from far away have made a fantastic extended community as well and they support us the 2-3 times a year the visit town, always making a point to pop in, shop, and say hello. 

Visit My Secret Stash at 122 Cass St. in Traverse City or order online at www.mysecretstash.com.

 

Tina Schuett of Rare Bird Brewpub

Brewery | Downtown TC | Opened June 2014

 

Tina Schuett at Rare Bird Brewpub beer

1. What inspired you to start your business? 

I always dreamed of opening my own business because of my father. He and his identical twin own a veterinary clinic which I grew up watching him operate. I always knew that owning a business was challenging but rewarding. I definitely have the personality type of a boss more than a worker so it just kind of comes naturally to me. I love owning and operating Rare Bird. 

2. What are one or two of the hurdles you had to overcome when getting your dream up and running? 

We ran into a lot of hurdles trying to get Rare Bird going. I was 26 and had never managed a business before, so banks and investors were a bit leery to say the least. We also ran into issues with location. We worked for over six months with one building owner who was going to be a partner and at the last minute he backed out of the deal and left us scrambling. Once we secured our current location our potential investors backed out, so we had to go knocking on every bank's door. It really felt like a roller coaster ride. 

3. What do you love about having a business in TC? 

Community, community, community! I always say we wouldn't be here without the community. Obviously that includes our amazing customers. We have a strong sense of connection here and try to give back whenever we can because of all the love and support everyone shows us. Traverse City is a special place, and we are honored to be a part of it.

Order takeout from Rare Bird Brewpub by visiting rarebirdbrewpub.com or calling (231) 943-2053.

 

Tracey Lark of Relish

Boutique | Warehouse District | Opened June 2012

 

Tracey Lark at Relish

1. What inspired you to start your business?

My parents were entrepreneurs a good part of their lives, and in working for them, I knew that being your own boss was what I wanted to be. It's a lot of hard work but so worth it. 

2. What are one or two of the hurdles you had to overcome when getting your dream up and running?

Choosing a location that would thrive and convincing my family that this was a good idea!

3. What do you love about having a business in TC? 

Having lived right in the heart of TC after moving here in 1977, as a child I was able to see firsthand what a close community this was, the kind of community I knew I wanted to start a business in. Many of my customers over the years have become friends, and that is one of my favorite parts of entrepreneurship. Without the community’s support these past 8 1/2 years, I wouldn’t still be able to do what I love!

Visit Relish at 144 Hall St. in Traverse City or order online at www.relishtc.com.