Albany Home Cleaning
2 Northway Lane, Latham
Owner: Katie Whitt
Describe your business: Albany Home Cleaning is a timed cleaning company. Homeowners purchase the amount of time that they would like the cleaner in the home. The timed cleaning service gives home-owners the flexibility of choosing how they want their home cleaned.
How long have you been in business? 14 months.
How did you handle any setbacks when you started out? I could not have handled any setbacks without prayer and my supportive family. Prayer gave me the peace and comfort to make logical decisions. My family provided valuable feedback and solutions during some very stressful times.
How did you know you had what it takes to run a successful business? I don’t want this to sound presumptuous, but I never doubted that I could run a business. I was National Sales Director for my father’s company, DWM, for 14 years and the experience I gained there gave me all the preparation I needed. Additionally, I am a natural organizer and manager. Some people like to call it “bossy”, but we’ll be polite and call it “manager”. Being a mother of three children gives me plenty of experience in multi-tasking, mediating and being patient. So I was blessed with those skills from my children. My father, David Meeks, and my husband, Brian Whitt, give me solicited and unsolicited business advice. Putting these tools together is what has helped my company to be successful.
What advice would you give other women who want to pursue their own business? Make sure you have a supportive family, a good lawyer and a great accountant. Personally, I also believe you need to have a healthy relationship with God.
What is the last book you read? Not a Fan by Kyle Idleman. It’s about taking your relationship with God to the next level.
What is your guilty pleasure? Reading a great book start to finish without stopping. I haven’t been able to do that in years! If I combine that with a bowl of brownie mix, I’m in heaven!
Hours: Monday-Friday 9am-5pm; and occasional weekends. Emails welcome 24/7/365.
49 Florida Avenue, Amsterdam
Owner: Susan Phemister
Describe your business: Unique Bed & Breakfast located in a renovated National Guard Armory.
How long have you been in business? 7 years.
How did you handle any setbacks when you started out? I had a day job to provide the cash flow, and anytime I got a client I kept asking them what else I could do.
How did you know you had what it takes to run a successful business? I had to have book smarts and street smarts and planning and selling skills. The ability to laugh and cry and pour a stiff drink. Also, Plumbing and Electric 101.
What advice would you give other women who want to pursue their own business? Plan, project and sell. Have an ask and ask for it. And don’t let your voice go up at the end of a sentence when you are asking for something.
What is the last book you read? An Unsuitable Boy by Vikram Seth and The Hunger Games.
What is your guilty pleasure? Reading in my claw-foot bathtub.
Hours: As a B&B I’m technically open all the time, but if you call after 9pm I’m likely to be asleep.
1811 Western Avenue, Albany
Owner: Janet Cooper
Describe your business: Our mission is to offer exceptional service to every bride, ensuring she leaves the store feeling that her wedding and dress is the most important to us. The moment you walk through our doors you will be greeted by our welcoming staff and our exquisite bridal gown selection. We take great pride in personally selecting each gown that we sell, by taking into consideration what I like to call the three F’s – fashion, fit and functionality. This way we can help brides select a gown that feels amazing on them and meets the style they envisioned.
Our philosophy is to listen to the bride, offer advice, and educate where necessary. We also believe in a calm, pressure-free decision-making environment, so each bride can enjoy the process of finding the dress of her dreams. With an on-site alterations department, we can guarantee the bride that the gown will fit perfectly and their finished look will be breathtaking.
How long have you been in business? Angela’s Bridal has been in business for 20 years. I have been the new owner for three-and-a-half years.
How did you handle any setbacks when you started out? The best way to deal with them is with an open mind. Listen to feedback and stay positive. You just have to keep moving forward and learn from each experience. It is important to always be honest and handle all issues with integrity.
How did you know you had what it takes to run a successful business? If you have passion, determination and belief in yourself, you have what it takes to run a successful business. My background as a seamstress with a love for fashion and as senior management in a large-scale company contributed to my confidence to run a successful bridal salon. However, I am also no stranger to working hard for what I want.
What advice would you give other women who want to pursue their own business? Prepare to work hard and value your staff. Show your appreciation and reward them when you can. It’s a partnership and takes teamwork in customer service, therefore listen to their feedback as well.
What is the last book you read? True Blood’s ‘Definitely Dead’. I always like a good Sookie story.
What is your guilty pleasure? I have two small children, so when I’m able to, I love to get pampered – facials, pedicures, etc.
Hours: Tuesday 11am-8pm; Wednesday 11am-5pm; Thursday 11am-8pm; Friday 11am-5pm, Saturday 10am-4pm..
The Hungry Fish Café and Country Store
461 Main Avenue, Wynantskill (relocating to 615 Pawling Avenue, Troy in July) 874.4573
Owner: Sarah Fish
Describe your business: The Hungry Fish Café and Country Store features a casual atmosphere with gourmet-from-scratch food. All of our bread to soups and sauces are made on site; we even make our own ketchup, mustard and yogurt! As a member of the Pride of New York, our ingredients are sourced locally from within Rensselaer County if not New York itself, and we buy directly from local farms whenever possible. Our emphasis is on quality and freshness, which has helped us win third place in the Brunswick Elks Lodge Chili Challenge last year, be voted Best Breakfast twice and helped me become a Rising Star Chef with the Albany Food and Wine Festival this past January.
How long have you been in business? 8 wild months (as of June).
How did you handle any setbacks when you started out? I kept in mind the long-term vision I had. I didn’t let any one day be a deciding factor in how we would do business, but rather used each day as a piece to a much larger picture. Set-backs will always happen so it’s important to keep a positive attitude. There’s always a challenge or someone who wants to pull you down, but believing in yourself and what you do will get you through it.
How did you know you had what it takes to run a successful business? I was nervous, but knew that this was something I absolutely wanted. Plus, I was running out of employment options in the area – I never did well working for others and I figured my stubborn nature and drive to succeed would prove to be helpful, and it has.
What advice would you give other women who want to pursue their own business? Do what you love and don’t listen to nay-sayers, but remember to always stand by those who are supportive; they are a valuable asset. Also, don’t be afraid of what people think of you as long as you’re doing what’s right for you, your family and your business.
What is the last book you read? World Made By Hand by James Howard Kunstler. It’s about a future post-oil world in Upstate New York where everyone has to survive by living from their own means.
What is your guilty pleasure? I love eating at other restaurants!
Hours: Monday-Friday 8am-8pm, Sunday 8am-3pm.
Log Cabin Fabrics, Inc
1145 Rte 9W, Selkirk
Owners: Lisa Fagan, Londa VanDerzee, Bonnie Turner
Describe your business: Log Cabin Fabrics is a full-service quilt shop. We carry a wide variety of fabrics including 1800’s reproductions, batiks, Asians, hand-dyed wool, velvet, jaquards & novelties. You will find a vast array of notions, books & embellishments all to encourage your creativity. We sell Bernina and Janome sewing machines and offer classes from beginner quilting to technique-based offerings such as applique, crazy quilting, wool penny rugs & embroidery. Basket making, clothing construction, hand and machine-sewing lessons are also offered. Sewing summer camps are offered for children to learn to sew by hand and on a sewing machine. LCF offers numerous Block of the Month (BOM) programs along with many clubs that meet monthly. There are adult camps, retreats and weekend sewing days for those who want to work on a project in the company of friends. There are monthly service project days where you can work on quilts for premies at AMC, pillowcases for the million pillowcase challenge, quilts of valor and many other community service organizations. Check out website for a full listing.
How long have you been in business? The store was originally located in the home of Londa VanDerzee for the last 24 years. It became apparent that with the growth of the quilting industry that a larger space was needed. In 2011 Lisa and Bonnie joined Londa and we opened our doors on black Friday of 2011.
How did you know you had what it takes to run a successful business? The overwhelming support of all our loyal customers, as well as those new to our store have made this a wonderful time for us. The advantage to there being three of us involved is that it allows us to bring more variety to the store in terms of the fabric and supplies we carry as each of us has our own unique style and interests.
What advice would you give other women who want to pursue their own business? Being flexible, offering professional service with a smile, keeping inventory current and making your store a welcoming place to be all contribute to business success.
What are your guilty pleasures? We enjoy reading quilt books looking for our next project and finding time to quilt!
Hours: Monday, Wednesday, Friday 10am-6pm; Tuesday & Thursday 10am-8pm; Saturday 10am-4pm; Sunday Noon-4pm.
Cross Eyed Owl Gift Shop
3143 Route 9 Suite 8, Valatie
Owner: Patti Varga
Describe your business: The Cross Eyed Owl is an eclectic gift shop full of cards, candles, gifts, home décor, books, gourmet foods, children’s items, stuffed animals, jewelry & accessories, figurines, flags and much more. We have the entire shop broken down into theme areas, which makes it very easy to find everything you’re in need of. We carry items for all ages, both men and women, young and old!
How long have you been in business? 19 years.
How did you handle any setbacks when you started out? When you have a setback at anytime you deal with the situation, press forward, evaluate what occurred and put into place policies and safeguards to avoid repeating the same mistake.
How did you know you had what it takes to run a successful business? I didn’t really set out to have my own business, it just happened, so basically I learned as I went along that I could do it, and do it well!
What advice would you give other women who want to pursue their own business? I would suggest you gain firsthand experience working for someone else in the same industry before striking out on your own and pick a field that you love! Pray for guidance before every step along the way, knowing that the Lord has a plan for you, and surround yourself with a good support network. Owning your own business is not easy, but it is worth it!
What is the last book you read? Heaven is for Real.
What is your guilty pleasure? Eating way too many of the Abdallah chocolates we carry!
Hours: Monday-Friday 10am-6pm; Wednesdays 10am-8pm; Saturday 10am-5pm & Sunday Noon-5pm.
Simply Irresistible Salon
288 Troy-Schenectady Road (Route 2), Latham
Owner: Debbie Caprara-Tanner
Describe your business: Simply Irresistible is an upscale full-service salon that strives to be the very best and give our clients exactly what they want. The staff continuously trains and learns the latest techniques from around the world. They are dedicated to giving the clients the best services available using only the finest products.
How long have you been in business? 20 years.
How did you handle any setbacks when you started out? Opening my own business was very stressful when we first started. My motto was “live and learn”; there are always mistakes to be made, but the success happens when you learn from those mistakes and make necessary adjustments.
How did you know you had what it takes to run a successful business? I didn’t….I took a chance, made a lot of mistakes and learned the hard way.
What advice would you give other women who want to pursue their own business? Be absolutely sure that you love what you want to do, because you’re hopefully going to be doing it for a long time. And learn everything you can about running that type of business; take a business course and learn tax laws. Lastly, it takes a lot of time, hard work and long hours to have a successful business and if you’re not willing to commit to ALL of those, then you’re not ready to open your own business.
What was the last book you read? 207 – It’s about a local haunting in the area, which is where I was born and raised.
What is your guilty pleasure? Bret Michaels is my guilty pleasure.
Hours: Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday 10am-7pm; Saturday 10am-3pm.
One Broadway, Troy
Owner: Rhe Potenza
Describe your business: Nestled in the heart of downtown Troy, Truly Rhe offers an array of clothing, jewelry, accessories and gifts. Keeping the assortment fun and fabulous is my mission.
How long have you been in business? This September will be the 5th year Truly Rhe has been in business. I went from 1,000 square feet to my current location which is 1,600 square feet 2 years ago.
How did you handle any setbacks when you started out? When I have setbacks in my business I really try to stay as positive as possible. No matter how bad it is, and I have had some crazy setbacks, I say to myself, “it could be worse,” then I fix it and move on to the next project.
How did you know you had what it takes to run a successful business? I didn’t really think about it. I never asked myself, “Do I have what it takes to run a successful business?” I have been in the retail business my entire career and opening my own business was always a part of the plan. You know it’s right when you don’t feel like it’s work.
What advice would you give other women who want to pursue their own business? If it is something that has always been your passion and you can’t stop thinking about it then by all means try to do it. Building a business is a work in progress; there’s no question that owning your own business is a risky proposition, but, with risk comes reward. You will get to direct the culture of your company. Surround yourself with positive, talented people who will give you the confidence and optimism you will need to keep moving forward.
What is the last book you read? Juliet by Anne Fortier. It is a wonderful combination of historical/literary fiction and a modern day romantic adventure.
What is your guilty pleasure? Dark chocolate. I don’t care for milk or white chocolate; it must be dark chocolate only. I definitely feel guilty after eating a box of dark chocolate almond clusters, and it definitely gives me pleasure.
Hours: Tuesday noon-5pm; Wednesday-Friday 11am-6pm; Saturday 10am-4pm; Sunday 11am-3pm; closed Monday. The last Friday of every month we are open until 9pm for Troy Night Out. Hope to see you there!