Women Owned Businesses

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The Cross Eyed Owl Gift Shop
3143 US Highway 9, Suite 8, Valatie
518.758.6755; crosseyedowl.com
Owner: Patti Varga
Describe your business:  I’ve spent most of my life in retail, starting in my family’s farm equipment store. Here at the Cross Eyed Owl you will find an unprecedented mix of merchandise that is categorized and displayed by theme to make shopping enjoyable. Whether you’re searching for the perfect hostess gift on your lunch hour or hoping to redecorate an entire room, you are sure to be pleased by the gift and home decor selection at the Cross Eyed Owl. You can spend hours discovering unique items, reading signs and cards or simply letting our knowledgeable staff help you find that special something.
How long have you been in business?
24 years
What made you decide to start this type of business?
I was selling my handmade designs in other shops, and I never really intended to own a gift shop. The opportunity arose for me to take over one of the shops I was selling my items in, and 24 years later here we are.
Who has been your biggest supporter?
I would say my family members have been my biggest cheerleaders along the way. Second to family would be my local community members who have helped shape the store into what it is today with their requests and suggestions.
What advice would you give other women who want to pursue their own business?  
Figure out what you enjoy doing and surround yourself with people who support you. Pray, seek God’s guidance in all you do, and be prepared for long hours and hard work!
Hours: Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday 10am-6pm; Wednesday 10am-8pm; Saturday 10am-5pm; Sunday 12– 5pm.

Vischer Ferry General Store
357 Riverview Road, Rexford
518.579.0195; vischerferrygeneralstore.com
Owner: Louise McManus
Describe your business: We’re a cafe and retail store located in the original 1856 general store near the Vischer Ferry Nature and Historic Preserve.  We offer tea and coffee/espresso drinks, baked goods, homemade breakfast and lunch, and a varied selection of unique gifts. Follow us on Facebook for our daily menu, and subscribe to our monthly newsletter for information on special events such as live music, author events, cooking workshops, art classes and more.
How long have you been in business:
Since December of 2015.
What made you decide to start this type of business:
We partnered with some friends and neighbors to renovate the building after a catastrophic fire in 2013.  My goal was to open a business that would serve as a community gathering space and also honor the history of the building in a modern way.
Who has been your biggest supporter?
Our regular customers, many of whom have been with us from day one.  They like the social atmosphere and the communal table.  I call them our VFGS family.  It also helps to have a wonderful husband who understands that our lives now revolve around the store, and two great kids who both work here at times.
What advice would you give other women who want to pursue their own business?
Talk to other people who have started a similar business (most entrepreneurs love to share their knowledge and help others who are starting out).  However, there is definitely an element of jumping in and figuring it out as you go along. Be prepared to work long hours (there is much more to running a store than what goes on during store hours), be flexible and ready to change and evolve as you go.  If you love what you do, it doesn’t feel like “work.” For me, it’s so rewarding to provide a place for people to come to that might be the bright spot in their day.
Winter/spring hours: Thursday and Friday 8am-5pm; Saturday and Sunday 8am-3pm.

El Mariachi Mexican Restaurant 
289 Hamilton Street, Albany
518.432.7580; elmariachisrestaurant.com
271 Lark Street, Albany
518.465.2568; Elmariachitapas.com
Owner: Patricia Bermejo-Bhola
Describe your business: Authentic Mexican and Spanish cuisine  How long have you been in business? Almost 22 years
What made you decide to start this type of business?
Family encouraged me to decide to open this type of business. My brothers have always worked and managed restaurants in New York City. I come from a family of five brothers and our parents, especially my mother, always taught us to work hard and never give up to accomplish our goals in life.
Who has been your biggest supporter?
I would have to say my family has been my biggest support to stay and continue to work in the restaurant industry.
What advice would you give other women who want to pursue their own business?
Never give up, fight for what you want, but be humble and stay on top of everything once you reached your goals.
Hours: Hamilton Street: 7 days for lunch and dinner;
Lark Street Tuesday-Saturday open at 4pm.

Short and Stout Tea Specialty Tea Shop & Lounge
1736a Western Avenue, Albany
518.456.TEAS(8327); shortandstouttea.com
Owner: Joyce Zacharewicz
Describe your business: We are a local specialty tea shop and lounge—an only-tea version cafe (no coffee) in the Capital Region! Many customers call us a “tea lover’s paradise” and we intend to keep it that way. Our food is baked and freshly prepared in house. We also sell premium whole leaf tea both in store and on line, all of which we can brew and serve to our customers.
How long have you been in business?
I started selling tea at local craft fairs in November 2011 and opened Short and Stout Tea Lounge on October 2013.
What made you decide to start this type of business?
My husband and I are both tea lovers, but my inspiration of having a food service establishment started when I worked as a waitress throughout my college years. I always love cooking and food art. However, my family life is also important to me so I couldn’t accept the long hours of the restaurant business. I looked into a similar type of business, and a tea house/café fit perfectly. It’s a type of business that the entire family, including my three girls, can be involved with—anything from tasting and sourcing tea to being a part of the tea lounge.
Who has been your biggest supporter?
My family especially my husband, Matt Zacharewicz, and all the customers who believe in us.
What advice would you give other women who want to pursue their own business?
Follow your dream and work hard toward it. Owning a successful business is not easy, but it’s very rewarding especially when you start receiving a positive feedback. The key to me is to keep up with the quality of my product and service.
Hours: Monday-Saturday 10am-7:30pm; Sunday 11am-5pm.
We are also at Colonie Farmer’s Market at the Crossing in summer and a few local craft fairs and music festivals in the area.

Healthy Café Catering Company
50 Yardboro Avenue, Albany
518.462.5074; healthycafecatering.com
Owner: Betsy Manware
Describe your business: Healthy Café Catering is a full-service caterer that can provide an intimate party for 10 to an elaborate wedding for 200.  From corporate breakfast and luncheons to showers, cocktail receptions and weddings, we are committed to providing you delicious food at affordable prices. We are dedicated to working with each client to customize their menu and to make their event a memorable occasion. Our creative chefs pride themselves on using the freshest ingredients and are dedicated to creating innovative yet healthy dishes!
How long have you been in business?
14 years
What made you decide to start this type of business?
I started working immediately after college for a woman-owned deli and then went on to manage a food truck at the Capital. Nine years passed and although I loved my job, I had the strong desire to own my own business. I started doing catering in the off-season of the food truck. Within two years I had built a clientele and took the plunge to doing it full time.
Who has been your biggest supporter?
My Dad has been my biggest supporter. When the opportunity arose to start my own business, he fully supported my decision. He taught me at a young age that hard work was not a choice but a way of life. He has always encouraged me to take the next step and go for it.
What advice would you give other women who want to pursue their own business?
I would say do it! It is not only empowering but rewarding. There are three requirements of owning your own business: You must have a good work ethic, be able to take chances, and, lastly believe in yourself.

Illium Café & Bistro
9 Broadway, Troy
518.273.7700; illiumcafe.com
Owners: Marla and Brian Ortega
Describe your business: Illium Café is a restaurant that loves to create memorable and consistent dishes and service. We are also opening in Pinehaven Country Club in Guilderland in late March of this year.
How long have you been in business?
8 years
What made you decide to start this type of business?
My love and passion for food made me decide to open my own business.
Who has been your biggest supporter?
My family, especially my husband.
What advice would you give other women who want to pursue their own business?
Never give up. Sometimes when it seems like there is no light at the end of the tunnel, you have to remember there is and you will find it. Sometimes you just have to look harder.
Hours: Monday 8am-5pm; Tuesday and Wednesday 8am-6pm; Thursday, Friday and Saturday 8am-8pm.

Enchanted Garden Florist
243 Delaware Avenue, Delmar
518.475.9900; enchantedgardendelmar.com
Owner: Clorece Weir
Describe your business: Enchanted Garden Florist is a shop where if you need something in a hurry, it’s ready for you and we provide excellent service. A shop that makes you feel like family. How long have you been in business? 3-1/2 years
What made you decide to start this type of business?
I decided to open my own shop after working 15 years for another florist in town because I wanted to emphasize excellent customer service.
Who has been your biggest supporter?
My biggest supporter is my boyfriend.
What advice would you give other women who want to pursue their own business?
My advice to other women is not to like what you do but to have passion for what you do and love it. For the next 5 years you will have to live and breathe your business.
Hours: Monday-Friday 9am-6pm; Saturday- 9am-3pm; closed Sunday.

Joyelles Jewelers
318 Delaware Avenue Suite 12, Delmar
518.439.9993; joyellesjewelers.com
Owner: Mary Vail
Describe your business: Retail jewelry sales with an emphasis on custom design and in-store repair.
How long have you been in business?
28 years in June.
What made you decide to start this type of business?
I enjoy working with metals and gemstones and realized that by adding repair into the mix I could make a living doing something I enjoy.
Who has been your biggest supporter?
When my parents were alive, I would say they were. They had a lot of friends who were loyal customers.
What advice would you give other women who want to pursue their own business?
Choose something you have a passion for. If you don’t, it won’t be as pleasurable, because there are always going to be challenges. Having that love for what you do will help you surmount them.
Hours: Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday 9:30am-5:30pm; Thursday 9:30am-7pm; Saturday 9:30am-3pm; extended hours during the holiday.

Laberge Massage Therapy
204 Delaware Avenue, Delmar
518.577.5488; labergemassagetherpy.com
Owner: Lauren M. Laberge
Describe your business: Your health goals are my focus. Through individualized therapeutic sessions, I assist in relieving your chronic pain and decreasing pain related to specific injury. I am invested in teaching my patients ways to care for themselves between sessions—at home, at work and at play. When possible, I collaborate with your related health care providers so I may offer you the best care. Laberge Massage Therapy believes massage is part of your healthy body maintenance–a means to achieving and maintaining your health goals.
How long have you been in business?
I’ve been a practitioner and sole proprietor since 2006.
What made you decide to start this type of business?
Over the years I’ve had injuries that made me look for the best ways to rehab, to be healthy and to be strong. Massage/bodywork played and still plays an integral part in my good health. My goal is to share my knowledge to help others achieve the same.
Who has been your biggest supporter?
Dr. Lee Masterson, DC, plays a key mentor role in my life.  He supports me, teaches me, collaborates with me and dangles that carrot in front of me to help me reach new heights as an individual, a therapist and a business person. Thank you, Lee.
What advice would you give other women who want to pursue their own business?
Anything is possible with a goal and a comprehensive plan. Set yourself apart from your competition and take the time to listen to the people you are choosing to serve. Keep learning and share your passion and knowledge with others.
Hours: Monday-Thursday 7am-5:30pm.

Albany Realty Group
203 Delaware Avenue, Delmar
518.459.4564; AlbanyRealtyGroup.com
Owner: Marie Bettini, CRB
Describe your business: Albany Realty Group is a local, independent residential and commercial real estate firm, representing buyers and sellers with the promise of first-class client service throughout the entire process.
How long have you been in business?
Albany Realty Group was born 15 years ago by Marie Bettini, a New York State Licensed Real Estate Broker for 27 years.
What made you decide to start this type of business?
After working for other companies and having them grow through mergers and acquisitions, she decided it was time to venture out on her own. She has always believed in and supported small, local businesses. Albany Realty Group offers local involvement and all the money that the company and its agents make stays in the community. Starting with just herself, an office, some desks and phones, she has built the business through hard work and determination into one with five experienced agents, a building to call her own and a reputation in the community of professionalism and superb client service. It has been a perfect venture and continues to be successful and enjoyable.
Who has been your biggest supporter?
Marie’s family has been supportive of this endeavor from its inception. Her husband and children have offered support and advice whenever asked for. Additionally, Marie’s daughter Jennifer Bergeron joined the company eleven years ago when she moved back to the area from California. Jennifer’s husband Patrick joined and now along with Sandy Evans, Don Moore and Caroline Caputo they enjoy working as a team.
What advice would you give other women who want to pursue their own business?
Trust your instincts, do your homework and be prepared to face some challenges. Be ready to get back up when someone knocks you down and do it with grace and determination. You will be respected.

Nicole’s Restaurant, Special Events & Catering
556 Delaware Avenue, Albany
518.436.4952; nicolescatering.com/the-restaurant
Owner: Margaret A. Carciobolo
Describe your business: There are two parts to Nicole’s: a restaurant and catering company. Nicole’s Restaurant is an intimate Italian restaurant with global influences, featuring classic and innovative cuisine. It’s a romantic atmosphere, which has been a favorite spot for many marriage proposals, and a great place to meet friends and family for a night out or a special occasion. Our premier full-service, boutique-style catering company serves the Capital Region and beyond. The restaurant and catering company have a symbiotic relationship, working well because of each other.
How long have you been in business?
Since 1986, the year I graduated college. I opened the restaurant with the financial support of my father and mother, who purchased the building and funded the initial investments. I am not sure if, at the age of 21, I intended the restaurant business to be a lifelong career, but it grew into a 33-year passion.
Who has been your biggest supporter?
In 1996, I met my husband and soul mate, JP Gavin. He was my biggest supporter. We worked together endless days and nights and on a business that is perpetually evolving. We were a tireless team. My life changed instantly after my husband died of terminal brain cancer in May 2017 after a 14-month battle. There is no playbook on how to handle the devastation. Thanks to the team we have assembled, the business moved forward and continues to grow.
What advice would you give other women who want to pursue their own business?
As a powerful force in the hospitality industry and a mother of four children, it is a difficult challenge of balancing family and a business that feels like it is a 24-hours-a-day job. I believe women entrepreneurs need to be true to who they are and not conform to what is expected. Do not feel guilty for taking time off to be with family, or for working long hours. I love what I do and I love my family, and I make time for both.
Hours: Restaurant – Tuesday-Thursday 5-9pm; Friday and Saturday 5-10pm; Sunday 4-9pm. Catering: Off-premises available almost any day, any time; office hours Monday-Friday 9am-5pm.

East Greenbush Window Coverings
601 New Loudon Road Suite 4, Latham
518-477-9025,518.479.0557; eastgreenbushwindowcoverings.com
Owner: Lorraine Greaney
Describe your business: East Greenbush Window Coverings was started in 1987 by Lorraine Greaney as an interior decorating firm that quickly evolved to specialize in unique and beautiful window treatments. EGWC not only customizes design for windows and products but provides solutions for custom-designed environments for residential challenges. Our team combines their expertise for practicality, budget and beauty to create a unique and functional look that will add a finishing touch to any environment. We work in concert with both our commercial and residential clients by understanding their likes and dislikes to make their vision a reality.
What made you decide to start this type of business?
I started my company so I had more control over what I could offer my clients. I loved interior decorating and felt being independent would also give me flexibility with my family’s schedule, which it did.
Who has been your biggest supporter?
My biggest supporter when I first started was my husband and a few close girl friends who I had done work for. They gave me additional confidence to take the leap into business ownership. Over the years, I have made changes and support came from different sectors. The SBDC (Small Business Development Center) at the Rensselaer County Chamber was also an immense help as I continued to grow the company, along with other men and women in business who were generous in their mentorship.
What advice would you give other women who want to pursue their own business?
My advice for other women thinking or dreaming of starting and owning their own business is to believe in oneself. Stay strong, pay attention to the changes and be willing to take a risk. But most importantly, love what you do!
Hours: Monday-Friday 9am-5:30pm; Saturday 10am-2pm. Appointments welcome.

Empire State Stone
2053 Central Avenue, Colonie
518.456.6500; esstone.com 
Owner: Amanda Hatch
Describe your business: Empire State Stone is a woman owned business committed to providing our customers with the finest granite, quartz and natural stone products available. Whether it’s a kitchen countertop, bathroom vanity or a more complex custom fabrication, our team draws upon many years of professional service and experience to ensure your project is a success. Your satisfaction is our business.
How long have you been in business?
I started in this industry about 25 years ago right out of college—first in sales, then in operations and then eventually owning my own shop.
What made you decide to start this type of business?
I had been running a granite fabrication shop in Brooklyn for a few years when family brought me back to the Capital Region. After running a similar operation in Albany, the opportunity arose to buy that location. So just over 10 years ago I took the plunge and started Empire State Stone.
Who has been your biggest supporter?
Definitely my family. From my parents to my husband and 2 daughters, my family has been there all the way!
What advice would you give other women who want to pursue their own business?
Be confident in your abilities but always realize there is more to learn. A great mentor could be right around the next bend so be willing to learn from those who have done what you are hoping to.
Hours: Monday-Thursday 9am-5pm; Friday 9am-4pm; Saturday 10am-2pm; closed Sunday.

Serenity Day Spa and Salon
1523 Columbia Turnpike, East Greenbush
518.479.5680; serenitydayspaandsalon.net
Owner: Kelly Hart
Describe your business: We are a full service day spa and hair salon in an elegant but friendly environment. Our commitment to personalized service and client satisfaction is our top priority. Our team is consistently updating their knowledge of the latest trends in the industry. We offer massage therapy, skin care, all aspects of hair care and design, nail services, full body waxing, lash extensions, and more.
How long have you been in business?
I’ve been in business for 13 years.
What made you decide to start this type of business?
Having been a stylist for many years, it was always a dream to share my passion with others. The opportunity came unexpectedly and with the help of my former business partner, we jumped in. I became a sole proprietor in 2008 when my business partner returned to her career as a teacher.
Who has been your biggest supporter?
My biggest supporters have been my family and this great community. We love our clients like family.
What advice would you give other women who want to pursue their own business?
My advice is to surround yourself with a good support system, including peers in your industry. Their knowledge and experience are invaluable. Lastly, don’t be afraid of making mistakes. We all have bad days and as long as you stay true to yourself and your business, all will work out in the end.

Good Choice Dog Training
14 Railroad Avenue, Albany
518.337.3954; goodchoicedogtraining.net
Owner: Becky Hutchins
Describe your business: Good Choice Dog Training is about training your dog, having fun doing it, and rewarding good choices! We have puppy classes, obedience, agility, scent, and many more to help meet your dogs where they are at. I also do private lessons or in-home training.
How long have you been in business?
I’ve been training dogs for just over 15 years and in October 2015, I leased my own space for classes and private lessons.
What made you decide to start this type of business?
I initially started learning about positive training methods because I wanted to be able to train my own dogs to be well-behaved and to participate in obedience and agility competitions. The more I read and started going to trainer’s conferences, the more I really enjoyed working with dogs. Then my veterinarian office asked if I would teach a class, and that was the beginning. Watching a dog figure something out or an owner begin to really understand where that dog is coming from is really cool. Helping people with their dogs can often keep those dogs in their homes. I’ve been a Certified Professional Dog Trainer for over 10 years now and have enjoyed every minute of it!
Who has been your biggest supporter?
I have a great group of dog friends and peers who have supported my dog training and the methods behind what I do. They have helped with classes, installed floors, or helped me clean.
What advice would you give other women who want to pursue their own business?
Sometimes you just have to hop in and see where it takes you! I had no idea how this was going to go so I started small, a class here or there and would rent space to teach. Having my own training facility has been a dream come true and while overwhelming at times, I am always so appreciative of every referral and how successful classes have been!
Hours: Classes are scheduled in the evenings and weekends. Private lessons and evaluations are by appointment only.

Salon Harmony West, LLC
100 N. Mohawk Street, Suite A1, Cohoes
518.233.9378; salonharmonywest.com
Owner: Betty Guerin
Describe your business: My business is a Hair and Skin Care Salon. My goal is to build confidence in our clients by making them feel empowered by their appearance. We have seven expert stylists and an amazing Esthetician.
How long have you been in business?
I have been in business for over 42 years.
What made you decide to start this type of business?
I wanted to open this business because making a difference in how someone feels about themselves is such a rewarding experience. It’s a creative business and almost anything is possible to achieve. I thrive on keeping my education up to date and learning all that I can about different aspects of the business. I was an official hairstylist to the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid at 20 years old. That was an opportunity that not many will ever be able to have. I try to help new stylists achieve their dreams because of the opportunity I was given.
Who has been your biggest supporter?
My biggest supporters have been my family and my co-workers. It’s such a rewarding experience to love your co-workers. We are able to bounce ideas off of each other and have great rapport and 30-plus years together.
What advice would you give other women who want to pursue their own business?
My advice to other woman wanting to pursue their own business is GO FOR IT! Surround yourself with people who will lift you up. Never stop thinking of new ways to change things up and always stay positive. You can do ANYTHING you set your mind to and don’t let ANYONE tell you otherwise!

The Artistry of Face
475 Albany Shaker Road, Loudonville
518.603.4544; artistryofface.com
Owner: Kelly Heffernan
Describe your business: I own a Medical Aesthetics practice We provide minimally invasive cosmetic treatments and medical grade skin care services. We help our patients to proactively slow down the facial aging process by restoring specific facial volume loss, correcting past skin damage and preventing future damage to their skin. I help restore facial symmetry to my patients who have been left with asymmetry due to medical conditions they had no control over such as Bell’s palsy, cleft palate or severe burns.
How long have you been in this field?
I have been in the medical field for over 20 years —the last 13 working in the Plastic Surgery, Dermatology and Medical Aesthetics field. The last 7 years I have spent as a clinical educator, traveling the country educating doctors and other health care providers about the true art of Aesthetic Medicine.
What made you decide to start this type of business? 
I have always had a passion for medicine and aesthetics. With this business I am able to combine my medical skills and passion for aesthetics. I opened my own business when I felt I was confident with my own skill set in the assessment, education and treatment of the facial aging process. I wanted to create a space where patients would feel comfortable in a nonjudgmental environment. There has been a stigma that one is “vain” if even considering procedures. It is not vanity that drives us to be the very best version of ourselves.
Who has been your biggest supporter?
My biggest support very honestly has come from my patients. Over half of them have been with me for the past 13 years. They have encouraged me to start my own business. I would not have been able to do this without their unwavering support and encouragement along this journey.
What advice would you give to other women who want to pursue their own business?
Do not allow yourself to become complacent in a situation due to the crippling fear of change and possibility of failure. Embrace change. Do not listen to negativity. No matter what your life circumstance is, take your dream and make it a reality. Believe in yourself and your ability to do great things. Never stop learning and pushing yourself to be the best version of You.
Hours: Monday-Friday 10am-6pm; Saturday9am-5pm.

Julie & Co. Realty
18 Division Street, Suite 314, Saratoga Springs
518.350.7653; juliecorealty.com
Owner: Julie A. Bonacio
Describe your business: We are a full service boutique brokerage. We offer the highest level of service to our clients and believe in building long lasting relationships. We will constantly strive, not to be the biggest, but to be the premier real estate company in our area.
How long have you been in business?
We celebrated our second anniversary this past November.
What made you start this type of business?
Having been in the real estate world for over 29 years and a developer and builder of commercial and residential properties (Bonacio Construction), it was only a natural progression to establish my own real estate brokerage.
Who has been your biggest supporter?
My family, friends and business colleagues have all been wonderfully supportive. What advice would you give other women who want to pursue their own business? Have a business plan, set goals and have a clear vision for your company. Shoot for the stars. You can accomplish anything!
Hours: 24/7. Real estate doesn’t sleep!

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