With March being Women’s History Month, we wanted to take some time to celebrate the women-owned businesses of Pittsburgh. This region has some great diversity when it comes to female-owned and operated companies, as well as businesses catering specifically to women.
Here are six female business owners who are shaking up their industries, leveraging their skills, and offering great products and services to customers in Western PA and beyond.
Maureen Staley, The Picket Fence
For years, Patti Staley and her daughters had the opportunity to travel across the country. Patti usually returned from her travels with one-of-a-kind gifts that she hadn’t been able to find in her hometown of Pittsburgh.
After returning from one trip to Los Angeles with a particularly stunning piece of hand-made jewelry and a few designer outfits for her grandchildren, Patti had the idea that she could share the treasures from her shopping expeditions by starting a boutique of her own. Patti wanted to create a cozy atmosphere in which customers could discover unique items that would enhance the beauty of all areas of their home.
The Picket Fence was born in 2002 in Oakmont, PA. In 2006, Patti’s two daughters, Jennifer McCrady and Maureen Staley, opened a Shadyside location. The youngest sister in the family, Susan Staley, has also worked and helped with events at the Shadyside location off and on over the years. The boutique has been managed by a family of women (most importantly Lucila Andrich, an important part of the store and it’s success) since it’s inception.
Patti and her daughters have gathered an eclectic collection of quality merchandise for the boutique. The Picket Fence is a small boutique that offers personal assistance when shoppers are looking for unique gifts. The store carries small to well-known designers of women’s clothing and accessories.
They also carry some unique gifts that are perfect for baby showers. The Picket Fence offers an extensive collection of designer children’s clothing in both vogue and classic styles, as well as children’s toys. Whether you’re looking for unique jewelry, clothing, or household items, this family-owned boutique is here for all of your gift needs.
Susan Dunhoff, The Modern Matchmaker
Susan Dunhoff is in the business of love. The Modern Matchmaker is a boutique matchmaking service for professional singles. No swiping here — this isn’t an online dating service. Rather, The Modern Matchmaker customizes compatible introductions for selective clients that lead to a committed relationship or marriage.
The company has been in Pittsburgh for over 25 years and has seen thousands of successful matches. One couple matched through The Modern Matchmaker has been married for 7 years. The couple’s relationship was even covered on a Pittsburgh news channel.
The Modern Matchmaker has a personalized matchmaking process for clients to meet compatible partners who share interests, values and lifestyles. Every client is screened in person and confidentiality is a top priority. It’s one thing to date; it’s another to find the right date.
Laurie Waller, Freshii
One day in Columbus, OH, Laurie Waller ate at a Freshii and knew it would be a great fit for Pittsburgh. As Laurie and Jeff’s children were getting to be college-age, they had time to commit to a start-up. Laurie was in business for 26 years as a partner in an industrial distribution business — she sold her interest to start something new.
Of the restaurant, Laurie says, “It’s a great fit for Pittsburgh as you can eat any type of diet at Freshii. Pittsburgh has an interesting mix of traditional and eclectic diners. We have a plant-forward menu with great options for vegetarian and vegan customers, as well as options for gluten-free, paleo, and keto diets. We also have meat for our carnivores! Steak and chicken are customer faves. For our traditionalists, they usually select something familiar like a Teriyaki Twist Bowl, Tex Mex Burrito, or Cobb Salad — then from there, they branch out to new entrees.”
Laurie says the thing that excites her the most is when a reluctant guest comes in and becomes a fan once they realize that healthy and real food can taste so good. “Our mission is to bring convenient, healthy and affordable food to all,” she mentions. “We promote eating real food over calorie counting.”
Another woman, Liz Franceschina, is the store’s District Manager. She was Laurie’s first hire and has been invaluable as she brings significant restaurant experience to the table. Laurie’s husband, Jeff Waller, has been instrumental in helping with the tech side of the business. Freshii has custom tickets for those who prefer to put their own creativity into a dish. With over 60 ingredients, the customization possibilities are endless!
Lindsay French, Hippie & French
Hippie & French is solely woman-owned and operated. The first CBD-only store to open in the city of Pittsburgh, the boutique offers a curated collection of CBD products for both people and pets.
Because the cannabis industry is still fairly unregulated, it can be hard to find products with consistent quality. Hippie & French is committed to providing consumers with access to the highest quality CBD oil. They also carry CBD and CBG flowers available to purchase without a medical marijuana card.
All of the products that the business carries are made by women or minorities. Hippie & French’s motto is “by women, for women.” Every product has a third-party lab report available for review before purchase. All products are organic, non-GMO, and free from pesticides.
Ilene Levy, Glassworks and Cheeks
Ilene Levy, owner of Glassworks and Cheeks, has been exceeding customers’ expectations for years. With three stores total, the first two were bought as existing locations, Cheeks being purchased in 1997 and Glassworks in 2003. Cheeks has two locations, one on Walnut Street and the other on Forbes Ave. All of the stores are gift and bridal-driven with tabletop registries, wedding lingerie, and clothing options.
“We try to make it one-stop shopping as much as possible,” Ilene says. “I travel to national gift shows for all stores to choose the latest and most current pieces for all of our clients’ needs.”
The Forbes location opened in 2014 and carries women’s clothing brands such as Joseph Ribkoff, Sympli and more. All of their stores have evolved over the years to carry different, one-of-a-kind products. In every location, they focus on old-fashioned customer service. Glassworks and Cheeks put customers first and provide a personal shopping experience. The staff has years of experience and is well-known and loved by frequent shoppers. More than customers, it’s like a neighborhood family supporting these local businesses.
Laurie Corbett, Eclectique
For handcrafted gifts and fabulous finds, Eclectique in Latrobe, PA is an ideal boutique. This women-owned business is known for its products and events. Laurie Corbett, the owner, combined her years of experience and the love for art to create a business that allows people to shop, drink wine, create, and mingle.
Work on projects and crafts such as door hangings, birdhouses, shadow boxes, home decor, and holiday furnishings. This is the perfect place to let your hair down, have fun with friends, and discover your inner artist. Eclectique offers one complimentary glass of wine with each class, so this can be your perfect girl’s night. Get ready to get creative and check out their upcoming events.This content was provided by a local, independent contributor to Made in PGH, a lifestyle blog.