Women in Small Business

October is Women's Small Business Month. My coworker Sarah Dudik set a goal to photograph and interview four of the (many!) women business owners downtown.

But October is also football season, and Sarah is rather busy shooting games. (And magazine assignments for the winter issue of Gadsden Style.) So, she recruited me to write the stories.

Then our editors decided to publish them on Saturdays and this October has five of those... so we expanded our series to cover five women who own businesses downtown.

First up was Michelle Bailey, owner of the fabric store Material Girls.

Photo by Sarah Dudik for The Gadsden Times

“I knew if I opened a business, it would be downtown,” she says.

Michelle is from Fayette. She fell in love with a Gadsden boy, Chad Bailey, while he was at the University of Alabama. They married, and Michelle moved to Gadsden, which is when she fell in love with the downtown district.

“It’s just beautiful — the trees, the sidewalks, the architecture,” she says.

Read the full story here.

Next, we visited Anna Heard at Jireh's Boutique & Gifts.

Photo by Sarah Dudik for The Gadsden Times

“I knew it would be more than just a place for people to shop,” she said. “We rejoice together. We laugh together. We celebrate together.

“It’s a girlfriend-family thing. Once they become a customer, they’re more like friends,” she said. “I’ve had some of my customers since day one. I’ve seen their children grow up. It’s hard to believe it’s been 16 years. It’s been fun.”

Full story here.

The middle of the month went to Tammy Harvey at The Coffee Well.

Photo by Sarah Dudik for The Gadsden Times

“There are no words to express how much I enjoy meeting the people,” she said. “I love what I do. I’m here most every day from open to close. I’m afraid I’m going to miss somebody.”

Before owning a coffeehouse, Tammy was a one-cup-a-day drinker.

“I still don’t drink it all day,” she said. “I like the taste. It’s a neutralizer. So many people like it. It’s a common ground, an equalizer. People feel more open in a place like this.”

Tammy's tale is here.

Next, we went to Janice Sherrell, owner of Remona's LaDiva Boutique.

Photo by Sarah Dudik for The Gadsden Times

“There was a dress I wanted from Ike Saks, and I hoped my grandmother would buy it for me,” she recalled. “But she said, ‘Janice, I just can’t.’ So I went to Alabama Fabric Store and got fabric and ribbon. I made a dress by hand and wore it to the junior prom.”

These days, Sherrell lends her hand to girls in need of a special outfit for their high school milestones.

Raveen Martin, Gadsden City High School’s homecoming queen, wore a red dress from Remona’s in the homecoming parade.

Read all about Remona's here.

And we wrapped the series with Inez Fambrough and her drapery and design center.

Photo by Sarah Dudik for The Gadsden Times

“I’m well past retirement age but have never even thought about it,” said Fambrough.

The drapery and design center opened in 1989, but Fambrough managed the Sears custom shop for 23 years before that.

“Sears still sends me business sometimes,” she said.

Full story here.

Glad to have this assignment in the bag!