Starting a business takes persistence and sheer guts. We know this from many of our small business owners, who have given up successful “traditional” careers in pursuit of their dreams. This Women’s History Month, we want to shine a light on some of the inspiring women behind the brands on Faire and celebrate the risks they’ve taken to forge their own path and turn their craft into a business.
We’re fortunate to work with so many incredible women business owners who sell beautiful products made with the utmost integrity. While this is by no means a comprehensive list of all the women who sell on our marketplace, we’ve featured a small handful below. Get to know them, and check out their work!
Name: Creek Van Houten
Business: Compass Rose Design
Location: San Francisco, CA
Before starting my own business: I worked in environmental nonprofits doing organic farming. I later went to business school and worked in the Netherlands in government consulting. I thought that was what I wanted to make a career out of, but decided to go back to the States. At that time, the economy was a mess — the jobs available were terrible. I had a brief stint in marketing, but I didn’t feel any connection to my work. Between the economy and the rise of services to get products off the ground I decided to take the leap to start my own business.
Being a women business owner means: Giving myself permission to do meaningful work that combines craft and ethical entrepreneurship. I feel empowered to apply values of ethical production and sustainability to every aspect of my business including materials sourcing, production methods, business structure, and donations to support future women makers.
Name: Allison Warren
Location: Chicago, IL
Before starting my own business: There was an interesting turn of events in forming Modernplum. I was living in central Illinois and teaching in the architecture department at the University of Illinois. My husband and I had just bought a mid century modern glass house. We were in the process of restoring the house, and I knew that I wanted to decorate it in a way that was complementary to its mid century modern design. It was important that we used natural and organic fabrics — to me these mimic the organic, wild characteristics of nature — and we wanted to incorporate that into our home. I couldn’t find textiles that matched our design aesthetic, so I started making my own. After making my first batch of textiles, I just kept going, and shortly thereafter, found a factory in Chicago to help support production.
Being a woman business owner means: I feel empowered to give back to my community and country in a meaningful and very personal way.
Name: Liz Paik
Location: San Francisco, CA
Before starting my own business: I have a design background and always loved pets, so I wanted to start a business that married my two interests. The original Cheengoo was a high end pet boutique on Union Street in San Francisco. I had opened the store in 2008, right at the height of the recession, so it was a difficult time. Initially I started designing collars and toys for dogs and cats, but my customers kept telling me that I should pivot and market my products for kids instead. I didn’t know anything about making children’s toys, but after my son was born a few years later, decided to branch out into the kids market. A few years later in 2013, I closed my retail store and transitioned to selling wholesale full time.
Being a woman business owner means: Having the satisfaction of building something from scratch and a fulfilling job, but still with a work/life balance. Being your own boss is awesome — I have choices, get to be creative, and make my own decisions.
Name: Kara Pendl
Business: Karacotta Ceramics
Location: Austin, TX
Before starting my own business: I fell in love with ceramics when I took a class back in high school. Even though both of my parents are entrepreneurs, it never occurred to me that I could make a living from being an artist, so when I got to college, I decided to study business. After college, I moved to Austin, where I started working with Lululemon on retail, community, and new store opening teams. A few years later, I went back to school for web development and later started a software company to help fitness professionals build and sell their class sequences to other fitness instructors around the world. After a few years, I transitioned to working for TOMS to help support their retail store openings — I also co-owned a yoga studio for a short while in the middle of all of this! About five years ago, I found myself doing a lot of soul searching. I knew that I needed a change, and I kept coming back to ceramics because that had always been my passion (throughout my career, I had continued to take ceramic classes, or keep an open-studio membership). I didn’t have a lot of savings or a backup plan, but I wanted to see if I could build a solid business around ceramics. So I sold my shares at the yoga studio and jumped into Karacotta full time. At the time, I wasn’t sure if all of the different pieces of my career would connect, but having the experience and background in retail, technology, art, and spirituality has been the biggest blessing of my business!
Being a woman business owner means: At Karacotta Ceramics, I work to bridge the gap between ‘aspirational’ and ‘possible’. I believe that a beautiful space cultivates creativity and a richer life experience, and that everyone deserves to live and work in a space they truly adore. Being a woman business owner means showing other women that if they aspire to be their own boss, turn their side-passion into a full-time gig, create a richer life experience that will leave a legacy, it IS possible. Being a woman business owner means paving the way for the future generation of girls to run past where I have had success. It means sharing your gifts with the world, and standing true to what you want to create, regardless of feedback or the appeal to appease the status quo — you get to just do you!
Is there a female-owned small business in your city that you like to support? We’d love to hear from you! Send us a DM on Instagram at @faire_wholesale.