24 Women-Owned Businesses to Support in Nashville
From flower shops to distilleries and everything in between.
According to the most recent census data, women-owned businesses in Nashville are on the rise. Even though they only still represent 35% of the businesses in the city, that is a 10% increase over the past decade—and a clear indication of what important contributors they are to Music City’s economy.
Mailea Weger is a relatively new transplant to Nashville as the chef/owner of Lou, a wine bar and all-day brunch restaurant located in East Nashville. She has quickly become ingrained in her new community and discovered a peer group of other outstanding women working in the food and beverage business. “Since moving here two years ago, a bevy of incredible women have become fast friends,” she says. “The majority of our guests are females who can identify with the ethereal romance of lou, and we have been so fortunate to be able to employ some truly wonderful women, too.”
Although she acknowledges the difficulties of starting up any new business and especially trying to run one in the midst of a pandemic, Weger doesn’t expect or ask for special treatment. “I try not to think of myself as a woman running a business, but rather just a small business owner,” she says. “Because if I don’t see my sex as an uphill battle, it won’t allow anyone else to.”
But Weger says she has no problem shining a light on women whenever she can. In fact, she had her pastry chef, Sierra Cody, host annual bake sales dedicated to women-specific issues. In 2019, the restaurant raised money for Thistle Farms and last year for Planned Parenthood, where the restaurant only invited women chefs and bakers to participate. “Representation of all is invaluable, and by no means am I forgetting everyone else in our wonderful community,” Wegner says. “But I am always down to toast to badass women everywhere.”
So toast we will. In celebration of Women’s History Month, here are some of the thousands of Nashville businesses with strong women at the helm.
Mailea Weger’s cozy bistro didn’t take long to fit into her little corner of East Nashville, where her neighbors apparently have an insatiable appetite for brunch and her exotic list of natural wines. Weger brings her French training and California style to the kitchen, and the results are fascinating.
How to support: Visit the restaurant or order online
Already one of Nashville’s most beloved chefs thanks to her ebullient personality and talent for using exotic international flavors, Deb Paquette is also the driving force behind three restaurants within the 4Top Hospitality Group. Etch is the fanciest of the three, featuring an open kitchen with a long chef’s bar offering a view of the action. etc. is smaller and more casual, but the food is just as elevated as at its big sister restaurant. Jasper’s is the newest evolution of the sports bar or just a darned fine place to grab a casual meal or a drink whether you care about the game or not.
How to support: Visit any of Paquette’s three restaurants
Sarah Gavigan turned her obsession with ramen into a noodle empire with three locations around Nashville. Her flagship restaurant in the Gulch offers full table service while Gavigan’s two other outposts in East Nashville and West Nashville are set up for carryout only. She has plans to convert the West location to dine-in soon. She also literally wrote the book on ramen in Nashville.
How to support: Order at any of her restaurants, order online, or download Otaku’s innovative app
With Julia Sullivan leading the kitchen team, Henrietta Red is in excellent hands. The staff exudes a pleasant calmness not seen in some testosterone-driven eateries in town, but there is still a playful sense of fun in both the menu and the service. It’s the spot for some of the best seafood and raw bar offerings in town, and the bar area is always festive.
How to support: Drop by the restaurant or order takeout or delivery from the website
While the dining room at Claire Meneely’s popular bakery and sandwich shop has been closed for the duration of the pandemic, her fans still make the extra effort to pre-order their favorite items for pick-up or delivery or take advantage of the walk-up window at the shop. They are rewarded with some of the most delectable baked goods in the city, and if you haven’t given up on baking your own sourdough yet, she’ll even include a little bit of her starter with your order if you ask nicely.
How to support: Walk up to the window to place your order or place an advance order to pick up or have delivered for a small fee
When Marcie Van Mol moved her CBD-centric coffee shop from Belle Meade to Hillsboro Village, the newly expanded space allowed her to greatly augment her menu of food and beverages to include coffee, tea, cocktails and all three meals of the day. In addition to a full line of custom-designed CBD products, you can also add a dropper of tincture to any beverage you order to help take the edge off the day.
How to support: Visit the store or order any of her products and select food items online
Margot Cafe and Bar
Margot McCormack’s eponymous bistro has been a Five Points fixture for two decades, and she brought fine dining to a neighborhood that hadn’t previously seen it. With a constantly-changing menu made using seasonal and regional ingredients, it’s still among the best restaurants in any part of town,
How to support: Visit the restaurant or order MarTOGO for pick up or delivery
Chauhan Ale and Masala House
Television celebrity chef Maneet Chauhan calls Nashville home when she’s not judging on “Chopped,” and she’s made quite a splash in Music City. She operates four restaurants and is a partner in multiple brewery projects. Her Indian fine dining option Chauhan Ale and Masala House shares a downtown building with a fun international diner named The Mockingbird and a high-end contemporary Chinese eatery called Tànsuǒ. Her more casual Chaatable in West Nashville focuses on the Indian street food of her youth, and they’re all fabulous!
How to support: Visit any of Chauhan’s restaurants or order online
Seema Prasad has been one of Nashville’s premier wine experts for years and has owned this sultry West Nashville restaurant since 2008. An ardent supporter of local farmers and purveyors, her menu focuses on seasonal cuisine and a list of fantastic wines to pair with the fare.
How to support: Visit the restaurant or order for takeout or delivery via the website
Julia Jaksic has seen success at her first Nashville restaurant, Cafe Roze, even though its location had been home to a string of previous failed restaurant concepts. Her fun lunch and dinner menu of healthy internationally inspired food has definitely quashed any curse that space had before. She has since expanded to West Nashville with an all-day market cafe named Roze Pony and is introducing a whole new part of town to her innovative cuisine.
How to support: Visit both restaurants for dining in, grab-and-go, or order online
When friends Robyn Donnelly and Katie MacLachlan opened their casual cocktail bar with Walden, they created a sort of neighborhood clubhouse for fans of good drinks and craft beer. Their tiny kitchen offers a very limited menu of snacks, but they are the perfect accompaniments for wine, beer, and spirits, so what else do you need? Plus, the patio is dog-friendly so what’s not to like.
How to support: Walden opens at 5 pm, so visit them after work or order online
Jackalope Brewing Company
The state’s first women-owned brewery was started by Bailey Spaulding who moved to Nashville from Vermont and was surprised that there wasn’t great craft beer everywhere like in her home state. So, she opened Jackalope, which recently moved to a spacious new location in Wedgewood-Houston that allows for a greatly increased production capacity and an enlarged taproom to welcome friends in for a pint or three.
How to support: The taproom is still only open for limited hours on Thursday through Sunday, but patrons can enjoy indoor or outdoor drinking during those times. They also offer curbside pick-up when they’re open and delivery seven days a week for orders placed on their website
Flamingo Cocktail Club
Sisters Alexis and Britt Soler have been instrumental in the success of some of Nashville’s best bars, both in management and mixing proper cocktails. Their newest venue Falcon & Flamingo Cocktail Club operates as a coffeehouse when the sun is shining and a high-end lounge after dark. It joins Old Glory, a dramatic space serving innovative cocktails in the former boiler room of a huge dry cleaning facility.
How to support: Visit the Solers’ bars for the full shaker show or order cocktails-to-go
Holly Williams had already earned a vaunted reputation as a singer/songwriter when she decided to jump into the retail business with her quaint 12 South shop that she calls “a general store for the modern tastemaker.” A quaint combination of modern design and a nostalgic mercantile vibe, the store features a curated collection of local and regional products ranging from home decor to drink mixes to organic dog treats. It’s an ideal one-stop shop for gift ideas. Williams has now grown to a total of five locations in three states.
How to support: You can shop seven days a week at any of her stores in 12 South, Green Hills, or Franklin
Margaret Ellis Jewelry
Mclaine Richardson purchased this high-end jewelry studio from founder Margaret Ellis upon her retirement and has continued to innovate the business and insert her own design ethos into the collection of wearable art pieces. The talented staff creates collectible artistic pieces using metal and stones in a style that is immediately identifiable as ME, and a gift of Margaret Ellis jewelry has been a special way to commemorate important events in the lives of Nashvillians for decades.
How to support: Email the store to set up a private shopping appointment Monday through Friday
Television personality and fashion entrepreneur Kristin Cavallari has created a line of affordable and stylish jewelry that she sells from her Nashville flagship store and through retail partnerships in boutiques across the country. Uncommon James also sells fashion accessories and home decor items at their stores in Nashville and Chicago.
How to support: Shop in-store or online with free shipping for jewelry-only orders
Poppy and Monroe
Karen Kops has created a beautifully designed nail and beauty salon in a historic building in Germantown, but her emphasis goes far beyond just mani/pedis. Kops and her team of stylists use more natural, less toxic methods and materials to deliver nail, hair removal, skincare, makeup and eyelash services. For a relaxing break from reality, Poppy & Monroe is a favored destination for those seeking a safer and more natural way to treat themselves.
How to support: Book services online
Camille Alston operates a booming online business for her witty embroidered beanies, bandanas, pennants, banners, flags, and totes, carrying messages of empowerment and encouragement. She also occupies a small retail location in The Shops at Porter East if you prefer to actually browse her creations in person rather than on your computer screen.
How to support: Visit the shop Tuesday through Sunday or purchase online any time
While no one could really complain that an NFL football team is a business that needs a bailout, it is significant that the Titans are one of only a handful of clubs that have a woman as its primary owner. Amy Adams Strunk has run the Titans for several years now and has done an excellent job ingratiating herself with the local fanbase. She makes herself available at many public events and is open to interacting with anyone who loves the Titans as much as she does. And to our knowledge she never got caught on camera doing what her late father, Bud, was spotted doing to Buffalo Bills’ fans during a blowout victory.
How to support: Buy season tickets or single game seats for the 2021 season at the team’s website
A vital part of Nashville’s downtown arts district, Tinney Contemporary showcases works by a global array of talented modern artists. Susan Tinney was also instrumental in starting up the city’s biggest monthly art crawl which visits galleries in the urban core.
How to support: Tinney Contemporary is temporarily open by appointment only, so contact them if you’d like to view their latest shows or browse online.
HeArt of Nashville
After years of popping up around town to exhibit her artwork from a tiny travel trailer, Anna Webb has finally laid down roots at the Nashville Farmers’ Market where she displays her dramatic canvases. She is best known for her whimsical series of paintings of the Nashville skyline, many of which hang in homes across the city.
How to support: Visit Webb’s space at the Market Tuesday through Sunday or browse online and place your order via phone
Julia Martin Gallery
Julia Martin is not just a gallery owner; she’s also a talented multi-media artist who displays her pieces alongside artwork from local and regional creatives. Of course, since this is Nashville after all, Martin features live musical or performance elements as part of each gallery exhibition.
How to support: Follow Martin’s website to find out about gallery openings and ongoing exhibitions
Already famous in her own right as an author, Ann Patchett revitalized the independent bookstore scene in Nashville when she opened Parnassus with her business partner Karen Hayes in 2011. Since then, the store has been the preferred spot for local and national authors to conduct readings and book signings, and their dedication to stocking works by Nashville authors is quite admirable. Be sure to pet the shop dogs and close the door behind you.
How to support: The store is open for browsing Monday through Saturday with limited customer capacity or you can always shop online
After 20 years as working as an editor, Joelle Herr decided to get into the retail side of the biz by opening a tiny book shop in East Nashville. Her store features an extensive children’s book section along with fiction, history, science, cookbooks and art + design.
How to support: The store is open by appointment for shopping, and you can reserve your space here. Online shopping is also available.