Who’s WE? Newcomer to the Village Discovers there are at Least 39 Women Entrepreneurs in Irvington
| by Barrett Seaman |
No, this isn’t the old joke about the Lone Ranger’s trusty sidekick, Tonto. It’s about WE, an organization of and for women entrepreneurs in Irvington. It took a spunky 31-year-old recent arrival to the village to count noses and put on a celebration of her discovery that a very large chunk of the businesses in Irvington are either owned or managed by women.
Starting from scratch, in a little over a month, Maggie Segrich identified, contacted and organized the more than three dozen (the numbers kept climbing right up until press time) businesswomen whose enterprises range from Brrzaar, the brand-new Yogurt emporium on Astor Street, to Main Street’s venerable Geordane’s deli and grocery store, to international fashion giant Eileen Fisher, who runs more than 60 outlets with some 1,100 employees in the U.S., U.K. and Canada out of her Bridge Street headquarters.
On May 28, Segrich’s WE designated 3 to 8 p.m. as a time for people to come “Eat. Drink. Shop. Local” at women-run establishments. Each business planned its own form of promotion. At Crossfit Valkyrie in the Bridge Street complex, co-owners Meghan MacWilliams and Nicole Dwyer added wine to their evening WAD (Workout of the Day) session. Eve Prime, who has a photo studio, Poppy, on Main Street, offered discounts on photo shoots to anyone who walked in during the afternoon. Emily Feliciano kept her Black Cat Café open an additional two hours that evening.
Anna Riehl, who manages an all-female staff at YogaWorks, sees WE as yet another way to build community support. She offered free yoga classes to those who checked in on Thursday.
After growing up on an Illinois farm and studying jewelry design at New York’s Fashion Institute of Technology, Segrich, her husband and two-year-old daughter moved to Irvington just this past April. Shortly thereafter, she opened Alice and Chains, a bespoke jewelry business at 118 Main Street. Almost immediately, she began reaching out to find other women who were running businesses of one kind or another in the village in hopes of sharing ideas and mutual support.
“I thought about having maybe a Ladies Night” with what she expected would be half a dozen or 10 women. One contact led to another. Following leads, she canvassed Main Street and the Bridge Street complex, recruiting women to join her. She then buttonholed Mayor Brian Smith, persuading him to send out an e-mail announcement of the May 28 event.
Not everyone was clear exactly what WE was or where it was headed. Some of the participants assumed that WE had been around for a while. “I thought it might be part of some larger, national organization,” said Irvington Printing’s Kristy Schmitt. Says photographer Eve Prime: “It’s good to know so many women are doing business here in Irvington. Whether it snowballs into something bigger, who knows?”