Women-owned businesses trying to earn your money this holiday season

Holiday shopping is well underway and one Vermont nonprofit is challenging people to support women-owned businesses.
Published: Dec. 6, 2022 at 5:59 AM EST
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - Holiday shopping is well underway and one Vermont nonprofit is challenging people to support women-owned businesses.

The Vermont Women’s Fund is an organization helping Vermont women achieve economic sufficiency. According to the group, there are 2,720 women-owned businesses in Vermont. Group leaders are using that new data to create a benchmark and see how the women-owned businesses are doing in the years to come.

One woman-owned business is Black Cap Coffee and Bakery. Laura Vilalta, the owner, just opened her fifth location in Waterbury.

“The start is hard, but it is hard I think for every small business,” said Vilalta. “You have to earn the respect of the business community, I would say. That is the hardest part. So you’ll start with a small landlord who trusts you.”

But the cafe isn’t just women-owned. The company is also made up of two-thirds female employees. Vilalta says she’s taken experiences from engineering school and applied them to succeed in the shop owner world.

“Those lessons I learned when I was younger have helped me here. We have gathered a team of strong women, who especially at the very top are very motivated,” said Vilalta.

After buying coffee, some might travel down Route 100 and stumble upon Someday Boutique in Warren. It’s a consignment store owned by Lisa Reisner.

“I couldn’t have opened the store without the support of the women in my life. So when I opened I was working a full-time job. I was only able to be here on the weekends. And I couldn’t spend one dime on this store,” said Reisner.

Reisner says a challenge of being a business-owning woman can be the work-life balance with raising a family. Although, ironically, she says opening during the pandemic helped get her feet under her.

“We did private shopping, so I got to really know my clientele. And that helped me tailor the inventory going forward. So it actually was a blessing in disguise,” said Reisner.

Meg Smith, with the Vermont Women’s Fund, says it can be harder in general for women to open a business and hit the ground running.

“It traditionally has been harder for women to get commercial loans because they don’t have collateral. They often don’t have financial resources to rely on to help mitigate the risk of a loan. So, they slowly build their businesses over time or they get family and friends to help support them,” said Smith.

This holiday season, Smith is challenging Vermonters to support women-owned businesses.

“This effort is far beyond just shops. You will find on the map people who are accountants, lawyers, people in different offering different services and goods. So this has got a year-long tail to it,” she said.

According to Vermont’s Commission on Women, 32% of businesses in Vermont are women-owned, bringing in a revenue of $2.2 billion per year.