Women in Front: Downtown Cuyahoga Falls’ Celebrates its Many Female Leaders on Front Street, Announces Catalyst Conference to Empower More

Mar 03, 2020

Women in Front: Downtown Cuyahoga Falls’ Celebrates its Many Female Leaders on Front Street, Announces Catalyst Conference to Empower More

Cuyahoga Falls, OhioIn just over 1 mile of Front Street, there are nearly 50 female-run businesses and organizations on Front Street in Downtown Cuyahoga Falls. These women own or manage businesses, direct nonprofit organizations, and represent their constituents.  From the leaders of counseling centers to law offices to banks to libraries to arts organizations to shops, bars, and restaurants, these “women in Front” are a strong community in Downtown Cuyahoga Falls.  They vary in industry, in age (from late 20s to their late 70s), and in backgrounds, as many have come from corporate or other industries than their current business.  A list of these “Women in Front” can be found here.

Abby Poeske, Executive Director of the Downtown Cuyahoga Falls Partnership, noticed this high concentration of females in charge when first getting to know the businesses on Front Street.  “They’re here, they’re giving back to their community, and they’re working together.  We have a beauty salon offering clients beer from the neighboring brewery, a boutique hosting events with the art gallery upstairs, and the yoga studio offering coffee from the coffee bar around the corner…whatever they can do to build each other up, they are doing.”

Ward 4 Councilwoman Mary Nichols Rhodes agrees.  Many of these women are constituents in her ward, and she can be seen regularly on Front Street talking with and supporting these businesses herself.  “I am so impressed by the female business leadership downtown that continues to grow. These women inspire and empower one another through collaboration, information sharing, and a lot of support. They truly share their success.”

Jana Tucker, co-owner of Celia’s Boutique, decided to move from their location in Tallmadge to Downtown Cuyahoga Falls a couple of years ago. She landed in a stretch of Front Street with both veteran and rookie female business owners. "The women business owners on Front St. are driven, focused, inclusive, and welcoming...just the kind of neighborhood we were looking for when we decided we wanted to move in 2017."

Celebrating the Women in Front

Despite progress made and growth in the percentage of female-owned businesses over the past several decades, women still receive only 4.4% of dollars in conventional small business loans and receive up to 30-45% less money on average than their male peers through bank loans in the US.  “So, these ‘Women in Front’ are worth celebrating,” says Poeske.

The 54 Women in Front gathered and celebrated together on March 3 at Portage Community Bank, another women-led (although not women-owned) location in Downtown Cuyahoga Falls.  They will also be highlighted via social media throughout the month of March (Facebook: Downtown CF Partnership, Instagram: downtowncfpartnership).

Community Over Competition

“It feels amazing to be amongst a community of inspiring female entrepreneurs doing bold things. This is a group of uplifting and supportive lady bosses breaking the mold by coming together in community over competition,” remarks Nici Munyer, owner of HARVEST yoga + wellness. 

In this spirit of community over competition, The Downtown Cuyahoga Falls Partnership is collaborating with HARVEST yoga + wellness to offer a one-day workshop called Catalyst for women who are hoping to start or grow their own businesses.  The existing women on Front Street are coming together to inform the content and share what they wished they’d known or resources they wished they’d had when they were first starting out. The goals of Catalyst are to grow this sense of community, build connections between successful female business owners, and provide women with tangible resources and tools to make the (calculated) leap.

Nici Munyer, who is working to build community and foster connection among women through her work at HARVEST yoga + wellness, is driving Catalyst.  Munyer is passionate about “supporting and inspiring women to explore their dreams of entrepreneurship.  I’m hoping Catalyst can help bridge the gap between dreams and reality for budding female startups in our community and change the shape of conversation between existing women-owned business. We need to get rid of the scarcity mentality and be open to the mindset there is room for us all.” 

More details about Catalyst will be released in the coming weeks and will be found at www.downtowncf.com/catalyst.