WARSAW — Downtown Warsaw is a treasure chest of women-owned businesses that add some zest to the area. From cafes to boutiques, women have created unique shops for locals to enjoy while they work endlessly behind the scenes to give their shop a name to remember. Being a business woman isn’t easy, but with help from each other they can succeed and enjoy the passions of business.
Michelle Smith LeDrew has owned her boutique for two years in Warsaw after moving it from Virginia. She also had her styling business in D.C. where she had opportunities at the Pentagon that let her experience special moments that impacted her professional journey and created her confidence in the business industry. She strives to help women treat themselves properly.
“Anytime you’re opening a business you’re taking some risks,” commented LeDrew. “This isn’t a hobby, this is how I make my living. It gets scary but the good definitely outweighs the bad. I absolutely love what I do and this has always been my dream. I suppose there have been some gender-based obstacles along the way but they never really affected me. I think it’s more my strong independent personality that makes me charge through.”
Michelle Stavrou ventured into her first business by revolving it around what she loves most in life. Stavrou’s wine cafe hasn’t had the official grand opening, but she has been strategizing for it while she continues to gain first-hand experience.
“With these soft openings we get a little bit better so by the grand opening in January, we’ll have it perfected,” informed Stavrou. “I’m getting my name out there and building a customer base. Everybody’s been so kind and wants to help. I think people want to help someone who’s following their dream.”
Stavrou’s life schedule is never-ending with her upcoming business and her children to take care of. She’s always played the supportive role in her career and household, but now she will be in the leading role. While a mother’s work is never done, her family cheerleads for her by helping in any way they can.
LeDrew and Stavrou may have different businesses but their advice to younger entrepreneurs remains the same. To have a successful business, preparation and passion are key while taking risks are about moving forward with good people who believe in the vision of the business.
“You have to do your homework first,” explained LeDrew. “Do what it takes to be prepared and it has to be something you’re really passionate about. It’s a lot of unseen hours, a lot of work. It becomes your life. I think it’s important to continually learn new things in your industry and never feel like you’ve reached the plateau.”
Everyone will have down days with doubt lurking in every step, but it’s important to remember why the dream is being pursued. Failure is inevitable, but it can be perceived as a learning moment that will be defining pivotal point in the business.
“Be ready for anything,” advised Stavrou. “If you’re somebody who needs to have control of everything or you don’t adjust well to things that aren’t planned, maybe this isn’t for you. It’s an adventure. You have to have mentors, you have to lean on people and don’t try to do it by yourself. I think life’s too short to not do something you’re passionate about.”