In Marketplace

Theresa Gadzik opened Voluptuous Secrets in 2002.

8 fierce female business owners

Editor's note: This piece originally ran in May 2015, but in honor of International Women's Day, it has been updated and reposted.

Many Milwaukee women are major contributors to local business. So, in honor of International Women's Day, here are eight who are providing life-enhancing outlets for Brew City shoppers and, in many cases, building community at the same time.

This "listicle" focuses primarily on retail outlets, but of course, there are women running many kinds of successful businesses in the city, from the food-and-drink-industry to the transportation industry. Feel free to give a shout out via the Talkback feature or Facebook comment to any of the industrious Milwaukee women out there.

Carrie Arrouet, Lela Boutique

(PHOTO: Royal Brevväxling)

Carrie has owned Lela Boutique, 321 N. Broadway, since 2003, when she co-founded the store with Stephanie Sherman. The women's boutique offers vintage and new designer clothing and accessories. "It's the best job I could imagine having," she says.

Steph Davies, The Waxwing

(PHOTO: Royal Brevväxling)

The Waxwing, owned and operated by Steph, offers artistic, handmade items by more than 100 artists. "Whether you purchase something or not, we just want you to leave wanting to come back," she says.

Sarah Ditzenberger, Fischberger's Variety

(PHOTO: Royal Brevväxling)

In 2006, Sarah opened Fischberger's Variety, 2445 N. Holton St., and has provided the Riverwest/Harambee neighborhoods and beyond with creative, usable items that make life more fun. Fischberger's also sells plants and gardening supplies this time of year.

Theresa Gadzik, Voluptuous Secrets

(PHOTO: Royal Brevväxling)

In 2002, Theresa Gadzik opened Voluptuous Secrets, 1740 N. Martin Luther King Dr. The boutique specializes in swimwear, underwear / thongs, lingerie, robes, pajamas, slips, hosiery and bras for full-figured women. "Large women need even more attention than smaller women when buying their bras," she says.

Laura Anne Haave, Tool Shed

(PHOTO: Kitty Tomas)

In 2008, Laura took over the Tool Shed, an erotic boutique and educational resource center at 2427 N. Murray Ave., from the previous owners. "Lately we've been able to focus more on bringing in new products that customers are asking for, creating an education coordinator position and expanding our classes," she says.

Jess Stern, Stag Barbershop

(PHOTO: Andy Tarnoff)

Almost five years ago, Jess opened Stag, 3064 S. Delaware Ave. The salon for men offers hair cuts and straight razor shaves. "My experience as a female business owner in Milwaukee has been nothing short of positive," she says. "We've worked with numerous local businesses on events and have received a tremendous amount of support from the community."

Melissa Thornton, Milwaukee Home

(PHOTO: Jake Schneider Creations)

Melissa is a MIAD graduate who worked as a designer, art director and creative consultant before opening her own business. MilwaukeeHome offers T-shirts, hoodies and items for men, women, kids and pets. MilwaukeeHome products can be purchased online or at the shop, 159 N. Jackson St.

Andie Zacher, Little Monsters

(PHOTO: Royal Brevväxling)

In 2011, Andie opened her own children's clothing and toy boutique after many years working as the manager of the now-defunct Boutique Bebe on Downer Avenue. Little Monsters features quality children's clothing and accessories, foreign language games, stuffed animals, puppets, wooden puzzles, retro candy and more.


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