Celebrating International Women’s Day: 9 Female Retailers We Love

Over the years, we’ve connected with retail stores of all shapes and sizes, and a good chunk of them are owned by some amazing women.

So, in honor of International Women’s Day, we’ve decided to celebrate some of our favorite female retailers. In this special Vend post,  you’ll come across a handful women-owned retail business from all around the world. From a fine jewelry retailer in Kuwait to a cheese store in San Diego, you’re bound to find a female retail pro to admire. 

Get to know them below!

1. Kelly Franko, founder at Gossamer & Grace Bra Fit Studio

Kelly started Gossamer & Grace Bra Fit Studio after watching her mom struggle with finding the right bra.

“Once I saw the difference a great fitting bra made for my mom, I knew there had to be other women experiencing the same problems she had had,” she shared. “I soon realized that I wasn’t really selling bras, I was selling confidence. Women often come in feeling unhappy with the way they look. Once supported properly, their outlook changes and they leave my store with a new confidence about their image. It’s a great way to serve others.”

Why we love her business

Kelly understands that she’s not just selling any old product; she’s selling confidence and she helps women not only look great but feel amazing as well.

Each customer who walks into her bra studio gets a unique and personalized experience. They meet with professional Fit Stylists who handpick products for each client, so they get a curated assortment with superior customer service to boot.

2. Gina Freize, co-founder at Venissimo Cheese

Gina founded Venissimo Cheese with her husband 15 years ago. “My favorite food growing up was always cheese — if there was a choice of ice cream or cheese, everyone knew the cheese was mine. My mom is from Austria, and whenever we went to Europe, I would love to visit the specialty cheese shops, butchers, bakers, etc,” said Gina.

“Then the proverbial light bulb went off — ‘Why don’t we have cheese shops in the USA?’ That was 15 years ago, and Venissimo was born.”

Why we love her business

We love that Gina strives to make cheese-buying easy and approachable. “Our mission since opening day is to take the intimidation factor out of ordering artisanal cheese,” she said.

To that end, The team at Venissimo Cheese encourage customers to sample their products and they ensure that every customer gets to taste something. They also educate people about beer and wine pairings and make it a point to include those details on their receipts.

Venissimo Cheese also has the Academy of Cheese and have even launched international cheese tours to Italy. All in all, we think  Gina and her husband’s efforts to take people’s “cheese experiences” to the next level are truly admirable!

3. Duha M. Al-Ramadhan, Founder and CEO at Aubade Jewelry

Duha found a way to turn her love for jewelry into a thriving business by identifying a gap in the jewelry market in Kuwait.

Duha was frustrated when she couldn’t shop for the fine jewelry in her local market and noticed that shoppers were always buying from the same boutiques. So, she decided to do something about it. She founded Aubade Jewelry in an effort to bring her favorite international brands to Kuwait and doing so enabled her to introduce new names to the jewelry market.

Why we love her business

Duha makes always stays ahead of the trends in her market so she can bring in the latest styles for her clients. “Kuwaiti women are the fashion leaders of the region, so our clients are always ahead of the trends and are looking for new styles of jewelry to stand out,” she says.

That, combined with her commitment to providing quality pieces, keeps clients coming back.

“I personally handpick each brand and piece of jewelry to ensure that it brings something new to the market, but I will never compromise on quality. Both innovation and quality of jewelry have to come hand in hand.”

4 and 5. Betty Hardcastle and Ange Baard co-owners of Petit Love

Betty and Ange are the co-owners of Petit Love, a baby and children’s clothing store. They’re driven by a genuine love of retail, a strong customer service ethos, and a desire to support the South African textile industry wherever possible.

Why we love their business

Aside from the fact that Betty and Ange put a lot of focus on supporting South African designers, we love that they recognize the importance of staying in touch with their customers.

“Everybody that’s involved in the brand, whether you’re in a strategic role or whether you are in-store, you have to spend time with the customers because you can hear their voices and you can see their interactions. That’s an absolute requirement,” says Betty. “We all operate out of our stores, and the reason is that we’re closer to the customer.”

6. Kate Sheridan, owner of Kate Sheridan

Kate, the talented designer behind Kate Sheridan, creates clothing and bags all handmade locally in the UK. From her weekly Broadway Market stall and boutique and workroom in Hackney, Kate has built a strong international following. Her designs are stocked around the world, from Paris to San Francisco to Tokyo, and in stores across the UK including Fortnum & Mason.

Why we love her business

Like Petit Love, we admire the fact that Kate Sheridan focuses on local sourcing and manufacturing. Doing so truly supports and lifts up the entire community.

Another thing we love? Kate grew her brand organically by staying true to her values. She trained as a footwear and accessories designer and started her career screen printing on leather accessories in her bedroom.

Early on, Kate was focused on ethical products and local sourcing and even as her brand took off she makes it a point to source locally and stock products from local designers.

7. Christina Bergstrom, owner and designer at Bergstrom Originals

Bergstrom Originals is a womenswear brand that has a brick and mortar location, a design studio, and an online store. In describing what they do, Christina Bergstrom says that they “love designing happy clothing that’s full of color, print, and a retro-modern edge.”

Why we love her business

While many traditional retailers resist digital commerce, Bergstrom Originals dives right in. They were early adopters to having an online presence, jumping in early on the ecommerce train using Shopify.

And when it was time to upgrade their POS, Christina ensured that their ecommerce integrated with their brick and mortar store, and they landed on Vend.

“With Vend, we’re more well-equipped to handle growth and implement new ideas. Laborious retail tasks are simplified and streamlined so our time can be spent on the business aspects that matter and move us forward,” she says.

8. Zoe Neuner, owner at Look Charmed

Zoe currently has been around retail since she was 20, kicking off her career at a large department store. She also started her own bridal shop, and eventually sold it to open a children’s store. Eighteen years after that when her children grew up, she decided to go back to women’s fashion and accessories.

Today, Zoe runs three retail stores: Look Charmed, Charmed By the Sea, and Southern Charm. “The running joke in my family is that I’ve gone from bridal to babies to bangles and that I have to stop before I get to bedpans,” she says.

Why we love her business

Zoe is incredibly passionate about helping women look and feel good, and her merchandise doesn’t make customers choose between being stylish and being comfortable.

As Zoe puts it, “When you shop at our stores, you could have comfort and fashion mixed together. We have really great basics — maybe like a modal tank that’s super, super soft and washes great, holds up really well and then pair it with a really unique and detailed crochet cardigan, or a piece that has unique fabric.”

“I also feel that fashion should and can be affordable, and I’ve built my success on keeping my price point low (under $40) without compromising quality, boutique atmosphere, or service.”

9. Janet Wright, founder at Floorplay Socks

Janet is the founder of Floorplay Socks, one of Canada’s best specialty stores for socks.

Prior to starting the business, Janet held an elected position at the City of Toronto Union. After her term, she opted not to seek reelection so she can stay home. But after three weeks, she realized that the “stay at home” life wasn’t for her.

So, she decided to start Floorplay Socks. Janet set up the store and opened its doors on June 1st 2013. The compay turned a profit just a few monhts after opening, and Janet established a second store not long after.

“This little hobby that I thought was going to be something to just keep me busy, turned into a business and it just kept growing. It’s kind of a ‘later in life’ success story, because I was already in my 50’s when I started this business. And it’s been pretty successful.”

Today, Floorplay Socks has four locations all around Canada, with a strong online presence.

Why we love her business

We truly admire Janet’s focus and dedication to her business and her team. One of the reasons behind the success of Floorplay Socks is the company the company’s strong focus on its core product: socks.

“I really do try to stick with just socks,” says Janet.

“During COVID, we have brought in masks just to keep us afloat, but really I don’t deviate from socks. We don’t do T-shirts. We don’t do jewelry. We just sell socks.”

Floorplay Socks is also known for its superb customer service, and it has acheived this by taking excellent care of its employees.

“My staff and I work as a team. I don’t really consider myself their boss, but rather just the team leader,” she explains.

“I also have staff who have been with me for years now. So I think that says that it has to be a good place to work. None of my staff have ever made minimum wage.”

She continues, “And all of my staff, once they get to 20 hours a week, have full benefits, dental, prescription, eye glasses, I pay 100% for them. Christmas, everyone gets a bonus. If stores do well, my staff do well.”

Let’s continue celebrating female retailers!

It’s great to put the spotlight on women-owned businesses on International Women’s Day, and it would be even better if we support females in the industry all year round. So, if you come across a female-owned business, be sure to send her some love.

Happy Internationa Women’s Day!

About Francesca Nicasio

Francesca Nicasio is Vend's Retail Expert and Content Strategist. She writes about trends, tips, and other cool things that enable retailers to increase sales, serve customers better, and be more awesome overall. She's also the author of Retail Survival of the Fittest, a free eBook to help retailers future-proof their stores. Connect with her on LinkedIn, Twitter, or Google+.