ntl american business women’s day

Today is National American Business Women’s Day! How great is that?! When you think of all the amazing women in the U.S. who are leaders in their industry/field, so many people immediately come to mind. There are simply too many to mention.  So on this day, I thought I would write briefly about some of the local business women I adore. They all excel at what they do…but they’ve also taken a passion and turned it into a lucrative business.  You know what they say, “if you can make money doing what you love, that is a great way to make a living.” They are all employers, heavily involved in the communities in which they work and all give back, making them not only great business women but incredible neighbors. For all these reasons I support, celebrate and rave about them.
Fran Bigelow, Fran’s Chocolates
After an inspiring trip to Paris over 25 years ago, Fran Bigelow began creating exquisite pastries and chocolates.  As both an artist and perfectionist, her chocolates quickly garnered a cult-like following that over the years has spanned celebrities, business leaders and politicians. Fran’s Chocolates have been featured in several national magazines including Food and Wine and Gourmet {sigh} and landed on the much-sought-after O List. In addition to their three retail shops {University Village, Bellevue on Main Street and the Four Seasons, Downtown Seattle}, Fran’s caramels, select truffles and Gold Bars/Bites can be found in many grocery stores. My favorites?  The gray and smoked salt caramels for sure! But I also really love their classic caramel sauce spooned over wonderful vanilla ice cream, hazelnut crunch truffles and single malt whiskey truffles {of course}. The one thing that is my ultimate guilty pleasure, however, is Fran’s chocolate filled and dipped Calimyma figs. They are pure decadence and something I always have around the house on holidays.
Renee Erickson, Chef and Restaurateur
In the mid 90s I worked for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, whose office at the time was located on north Lake Union, only a few blocks away from the original Boat Street Cafe. Even though I’d lived in Seattle already for a handful of years, my first lunch at Boat Street went down as my first great meal in the city. And each and every meal since has never disappointed. Inspired by simple, Provençal cuisine, Renee Erickson has parlayed her love of all things French into not one, but two, great restaurants {Boat Street Cafe, The Walrus and the Carpenter}, a cooking class/catering/private event space company {Boat Street Kitchen}, and a retail products {Boat Street Pickles} with her partners. Boat Street Cafe is one of my absolute favorite places to meet friends and take out-of-state visitors. Its warm, rustic atmosphere has been the setting for so many memorable dinners and was the first place I ever tried beef tongue. During late summer, one of my favorite things is Renee’s sliced tomatoes with vanilla salt. It is simply, ah-mazing. At The Walrus and the Carpenter, located in the Kolstrand Building, Ballard, besides the wonderful selection of fresh, northwest/west coast oysters, my two must tries are the smoked trout with lentils and the pork rillette, both served with different pickled vegetables, something that has become Renee’s signature product.  Her line, Boat Street Pickles, may be found at few local grocery stores {DeLaurenti’s, Metropolitan Market} or online and includes pickled raisins, figs, prunes, and my favorite, red onions.
Stacy Lill and Kathy Johanson, O Wines
I can’t tell you when or where I met Stacy, but I am sure it was at a charity event. She immediately drew me toward her because of her vivacious and friendly personality. In addition to the community support she and her husband provide through Delille, together with Kathy Johanson, Stacy founded O Wines in 2006 with the premise that the women’s passion for creating great wines could help change people’s lives. And so they established a remarkable business, one where 100% of their net proceeds would fund education scholarships for low income youth. In each state O Wines’ chardonnay or red blend is sold {Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Oregon and Washington}, they are lifting people up by opening up the world to them. I am not a huge white wine drinker but when I do have a glass, it is almost always a sauv blanc. But I really like Stacy and Kathy’s chardonnay. It is fermented in stainless steel and finished in oak to give just the right hint of toastiness. So many chards are way too oaky for me so the stainless steel fermenting is what makes this a great wine for my palate. It is a crisp, zesty chardonnay; buttery and full flavored. Their red is a blend of syrah, merlot, cab franc and sangiovese and is also great. You can find their wines at many grocery retailers {Fred Meyer, QFC, select Safeways and Costcos}, wine merchants and some of the area’s best restaurants.
Molly Moon Neitzel, Molly Moon’s Homemade Ice Cream
I love how Neitzel’s college job became a passion and that became a successful career. Clearly from my post last week, I also love, love, love the ice cream. Add the facts that, as much as possible, all the ingredients are locally sourced, Neitzel’s a great employer, especially for young workers who might otherwise not find a similar job that offers health benefits, and that her business brings neighbors together…Molly Moon’s is definitely a business that is easy to support. Your taste buds will be happy for it.
Shannon Ressler, findwell
I met Shannon several years ago thru my friend Heidi. She has a smile and laugh that is contagious! But she also is wicked smart. After working several years in the tech industry, she and her partner realized how much technology was changing the real estate industry, not only in terms of marketing but offering buyers and sellers different tools beyond traditional, high fee avenues. Findwell, a full-service real estate brokerage, was founded in 2008. In addition to the wealth of experience provided, their lower fees help buyers and sellers realize significant savings, something that has become increasingly important in the past few years. How do they do this? Here is an example: if you sell buy your home through findwell, they will rebate half of the commission back to you. In today’s economic climate that is not only amazing, it is smart. I told you…wicked smart. She is a Coug, though. But I won’t hold that against her. Currently findwell serves the Seattle metropolitan area, so if you’re a buyer or a seller, check them out!
Lee Rhodes, glassbaby
I have a two items that are my popular, go-to-gifts: Waterford wine glasses and vessels by glassybaby. A coincidence that both are glass? Probably not but it’s accentuated because they are both beautiful works of art and evoke an emotional reaction from me; the reactions are different but both stirring. So I understand when Lee Rhodes, after a seven year battle with cancer, first saw the creation her husband brought home from a glass blowing class…a small colored cup that was only the first of many he would make. She would scatter them throughout their house, filling them with candles; the light they cast so soothing and calming. Rhodes started giving away her husband’s pieces of art away as gifts. They were so popular, in 2003 she opened her first retail shop in Madrona. That original calming effect can be felt in many of the colors glassbaby offers; others spur joy, happiness, lightness, reflection. I’ve given them for many reasons: housewarmings, birthdays, Christmas, weddings and in times of sadness and tragedy. I really believe there are some colors that are so soft and warm that they can help heal pain. As I write this, I’ve realized there are many glassybabies throughout my home but I don’t light them enough. That will change.
Anna Schafer, àMaurice Cellars
Passionate, curious, dedicated, talented, effervescent. Those are words I would use to describe Anna Schafer, winemaker and partner at àMaurice Cellars, who takes great pride in the wine produced at this boutique, family-owned winery. Having traveled extensively to learn about harvesting and winemaking, the result of Anna’s education shows beautifully in àMaurice’s wine offerings. She’s serious about her craft, and winemaking is truly that, a craft. My favorite wines from this Walla Walla winery are their syrah, viognier and red blend artist label series which is not only a beautiful red but features work from some favorite Northwest Masters: Mark Tobey, George Tsutakawa, Paul Horiuchi and Kenneth Callahan {oh how I wish I had one of the Callahan bottles}. Anna’s wines have received numerous accolades from various publications including industry magazines such as Wine Enthusiast and Wine and Spirits but also the Wall Street Journal, Seattle Metropolitan, Seattle Magazine and The Seattle Times. But in addition to being recognized by the wine industry and thought leaders in this space, one of the best rewards is creating wine that is celebrated and enjoyed by people like you and me. 
Who are your favorite business women in the Pacific Northwest? Who should we all be recognizing, celebrating and supporting?
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2 Responses to ntl american business women’s day

  1. reader says:

    FYI. All of the URLs on this page are not working.

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