Women's History Month

10 Women-Owned Businesses to Support in Boston

From fitness studios to bakeries and everything in between.

As March marks Women’s History Month, it’s important to remember that all-year round, there are local businesses in Boston and the surrounding area that are owned by entrepreneurial women. With hardship hitting the local business industry due to COVID-19, business owners have continued to triumph, relying on loyal clientele and a sleepless work ethic. 

“We’ve faced challenges, of course, but our online and real-life community has been incredibly supportive and excited for the journey,” says Boston-based food brand Not Just Co. co-founder Catherine Smart.

Fellow Not Just Co. founder Jacqueline Grady-Smith added that as a certified women-owned business, their role as a healthy and convenient-focused food brand is to ease the struggles of their peers.  “For us, it’s about taking this one pain point out of the day, like preparing weeknight dinners, and doing it with products and a community that other people are proud to be part of,” Grady says.

Grady-Smith also mentioned that only about 3% of institutional investment dollars go to women-owned businesses, and while the two founders have shared mostly positive experiences within the industry, there is still a lot of work to do. “If women before us have opened proverbial doors, we want to blast down those walls—and that’s a part of what we plan on doing,” she says.

Alyssa Davis, founder of Wyllo, a Boston-based boutique selling curated goods from women artists, mentioned how far the local business industry has come, and how women have paved their own way to success, even during difficult times. “I’m now able to connect with other female entrepreneurs, find a mentor or read inspiring stories about women stepping into roles that were previously dominated by men,” she says. “But for so many women—my mother, my grandmother and so on—this wasn’t always the case.”

Read on for our roundup of essential Boston restaurants, shops, fitness studios, and more, with inspiring stories and backgrounds from some of the area’s leading female entrepreneurs.

Boston-based clean ingredient food brand Not Just Co. was launched by entrepreneurial food journalists Catherine Smart and Jacqueline Grady-Smith in 2018 to help fellow busy home cooks get a head start on delicious weeknight dinners. Focusing on plant-based, gluten-free, and nut-free ingredients, Not Just Co.’s product lineup consists of Not Just Caramel (sea salt-tahini), Not Just Pesto (tomato pesto), Not Just Salad Dressing (miso-lemon vinaigrette), and their most popular pick, Not Just Pasta Sauce. The two also helped put together the brand’s official food blog, which is filled with must-have recipes featuring their tasty toppings. 
How to support: Order their signature sauces online or find their products at local shops across New England.

Collettey’s Cookies is a Boston-based online business that was founded by Connecticut-born entrepreneur and passionate baker Collette Divitto in 2011. According to Collettey’s website, not only has Collette sold over 180,000 cookies to date, but she has also worked to advocate for individuals with disabilities, as Collette was born with Down Syndrome. With shipping available across the US, customers can get their hands on classic cookie selections from oatmeal raisin and peanut butter to Collettey’s famous “Amazing Cookie,” flavored with chocolate and cinnamon.
How to support: Purchase an order of cookies or send a gift package via the website. You can also find Collettey’s Cookies at several different locations across Boston.

Flour Bakery + Cafe

Multiple locations

Founded by James Beard Award-winning Chef Joanne Chang, who also co-owns “Asian-ish” restaurant Myers + Chang, Flour Bakery + Cafe is known for a savory, but mostly sweet menu. With everything from Chang’s famous sticky buns to sandwiches and melts up for grabs, Flour has expanded from its first location in the South End to multiple spots across Boston and Cambridge. 
How to support: Visit the storefronts, order pickup or delivery online, or purchase merchandise from Flour’s online shop.

Brought to you by former Top Chef competitor and James Beard Award nominee Tiffani Faison—who also owns Boston-based restaurants Tiger Mama, Sweet Cheeks, and Orfano— Fool’s Errand has transformed from an adult snack bar to an intimate eatery with an indulgent menu. Open for private dining, Fool’s Errand has also started hosting wine and cake tastings this year presented by Faison’s Big Heart Hospitality restaurant group.
How to support: Reserve a private dining event online or follow Fool’s Errand on Instagram to find out about the next tasting pop-up.

Fox & The Knife

South Boston

Founded by James Beard Award-winning Chef Karen Akunowicz, Fox & the Knife is an acclaimed modern Italian restaurant featuring casual and cozy dishes paired with a robust list of wine and spirits. The restaurant, located across the Broadway T-stop, draws inspiration from Akunowicz’s time spent working as a chef and pasta maker in Modena, Italy, with the menu and inviting atmosphere to prove it. 
How to support: Book a reservation, purchase a gift card, or order pickup or delivery.

Trill.Fit

Mission Hill

Known as Boston’s original hip-hop workout party, TRILLFIT is a Black-owned boutique fitness studio founded by Boston-based entrepreneur Heather C. White, who made it her mission to create an inclusive wellness brand that fosters collaboration and community. In addition to offering a suite of fast-paced, hip-hop fueled fitness classes for her members, according to the TRILLFIT website, White has continued to focus on improving the health outcomes in communities of color by donating 3% of the company’s annual profits to local organizations that support this initiative.
How to support: Sign up for an in-person or virtual membership online, or you can purchase TRILLFIT merchandise via the website.

Wyllo

South End

Founded by Boston-based jewelry designer Alyssa Davis, Wyllo is a boutique located in the SoWa Art & Design District that sells a curated collection of clothing, jewelry, and home decor by fellow women artists. Wyllo first originated in 2015 when Davis left her full time job to make and design jewelry, selling items solely at local markets and events. In September 2020, Davis opened up her first store, which now offers everything from greeting cards to candles to self care goodies.
How to support: Visit storefront or purchase merchandise via the website (in-store pickup option is also available).

As a third-generation pilates instructor, Julie Erickson founded Endurance Pilates in 2010. Erickson has trained a long list of clients from Broadway and Cirque du Soleil performers in addition to working with students with neurological disorders and individuals injured in the Boston Marathon. With an incredible history and background in the health and wellness space, Erickson still instructs classes for those looking to break a sweat in the studio or from the comfort of their home.
How to support: You can book a virtual or an in-person class online.

PAGU

Cambridge

Chef Tracy Chang founded PAGU is a Spanish-Japenese fusion restaurant. At an early age, Chang was introduced to the restaurant industry after watching her grandmother, a Taiwanese immigrant, successfully run a Japanese restaurant in Cambridge. After college, Chang eventually went on to study at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris and work at a Three star-michelin restaurant in Spain (via PAGU’s website). Inspired by her family and time spent working around the world, PAGU has a diverse menu featuring pizza, fried rice, ramen, and dessert/dinner DIY kits to prepare you for a night-in.
How to support: Order pickup online, purchase a gift card, or order from PAGU’s online market (offers nationwide shipping).

Oleana

Central Square

Specializing in Eastern Mediterranean small plates with locally-sourced ingredients, Oleana was founded by James Beard Award-winning Chef Ana Sortun in 2001. Known as one of the country’s “most creative practitioners,” Sortun also co-owns nearby Middle Eastern bakery and cafe Sofra and modern Mediterranean restaurant Sarma. With Oleana as her first business venture, Sortun continues to reinvent the menu with seasonal flavors, even sprinkling in some Turkish dessert specials to complete the feast.
How to support: Make a reservation online, order pickup, or purchase a gift card.

Jillian Hammell is a contributor for Thrillist. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.
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