On an unusually cloudy morning in July, the women business owners of Green Spring Station in Lutherville arrived one-by-one to the indoor courtyard, dressed in bright heels and the latest summer styles. They exchanged hugs and cheerfully discussed new merchandise, even updating each other on family engagements and graduation plans. Needless to say, these women dismiss what a merchant dynamic is expected to look like in our society, and instead embrace success as a community goal, not an individual accomplishment.
Green Spring Station, is a chic shopping hub tucked away behind doctor’s offices, but regarded by regular customers as a “Baltimore County hidden jewel.” The quaint building and indoor courtyard; perfect for brunch, hosts about a dozen small business owners, selling items ranging from home-goods and clothing to sweet treats.
Ted Peddy, who manages the leasing, parking lots and current construction on-site with his father, Tom Peddy, explained, “It’s dynamic here. Each tenant has their own place here, but each one brings something to the whole.
“When I am leasing to a new tenant, I don’t just look at the merchandise they sell, but pay attention to their personality to see if it fits. It’s a family business,” said Peddy.
Peddy and his father are not the only family business that has found success at Green Spring Station, several other stores have embraced the dynamic. The synergy from the tenants, and the demeanor of a family business have opened channels for growth and success for many of the women and their families.
Mindi Leikin, from Necessary Secrets started her business in 1984 selling women’s sleepwear, undergarments and swimwear. A few years later, her sister Lynn Polashuk, as well as their mother, started to work and help out at the store. They credit their success to their ability to work together and develop friendships with their regular consumers.
“One of us is always in the store. People like to see us in the store … [small] business requires a positive relationship between customers and workers,” said Polashuk.
Leikin and Polashuk’s knowledge about their merchandise is unmatched to the experience of shopping online, they say. “People want to touch and feel products before they buy them. You need to try on clothes before you order them” said Polashuk.
Across the courtyard is Francesca’s Atelier and Francesca’s Bridal, which has become a one-stop-shop for everything bridal; including dresses for mothers of the groom and mothers of the bride. Owner Francesca Ripple, credits her knowledge and passion for seam stressing to her mother and aunt. After spending a few years helping with fashion shows around Baltimore, she purchased a store-front, and opened her first store.
Ripple knew from her experience at bridal fashion shows and in the industry, that aspects of the wedding experience were missing, and she aimed to change the experience for Baltimore brides and their families. She has found success from striving to have the newest styles and trends, as well as, maintaining a close relationship with her customers and providing items that they want.
“What we sell, you can’t just walk into a store and buy. … Women need to be consulted when buying a gown. We do all of our own seam stressing in the store, which makes the process much easier,” explained Ripple.
Ripple’s daughters grew up in their mother’s business and watched her manage and run the stores. Now that they are older, they have followed in their mother’s footprints and each manages one of the shops.
“It’s great! We all want the same thing,” said Ripple.
Premium clothing store, Panache, owned by Vanessa Plvec, takes a different spin on a family business. Plvec started her business in 2012, with the help of many of her business-running siblings and family members.
“I am not in a family business in the sense that we work together, however, they play a huge role in my success,” she said.
She prides herself in her ability to provide all aspects of an outfit in one store. Plvec offers clothing lines that are not readily accessible in the area, which has brought her a solid clientele.
“My greatest success comes with my ability and my team’s ability to create personal connections with every client that walks through our door. We create an environment that is both inviting and fun and makes our clients want to come back for more,” she said.
After a long day of shopping, a popular stop for shoppers at Green Spring Station is Stone Mill Bakery, owned by Dana Himmelrich. Himmelrich and her husband took over the shop from his brother more than 20 years ago. Ever since, they have continued to serve artisan bread and other homemade goods.
The epitome of a family business, Himmelrich has employed her children and their friends for summer jobs through high school and college. She has been able to watch her children and their friends grow into adults and learn different aspects of running a business.
“It’s a real family business,” said Himmelrich.
Success for Stone Mill Bakery relies heavily on regular customers and dedicated patrons. Himmelrich enjoys creating relationships with her customers and watching their children grow up through the years.
“The nature of our business is the one-on-one contact you get with a customer when they come to the store. Most of our customers are regulars, and the people behind the counter will already know their orders,” Himmelrich said.
Green Spring Station is founded on collaboration, positive relationships, and the desire to come together to create a shopping experience that benefits all shoppers and visitors. Similar to raising a family, the women-owned businesses of Green Spring Station have found immense success within their businesses by offering advice and help, but also fostering an environment that provides space for everyone to grow.
Mindi Leikin explains, “It’s your baby … and at 18 it doesn’t leave home, it still stays yours.”
|This article is featured in The Daily Record’s Women Who Lead: A Woman’s Guide To Business. The mission of the Women Who Lead (formerly Path to Excellence) magazine is to give our readers the opportunity to meet successful women of all ages, backgrounds and beliefs and learn how they define success. Read more from Women Who Lead.|