Women in Business
In March of 2017, in recognition of International Women’s Day, a sculpture by Kristen Visbal was installed at the heart of corporate America, in New York City’s financial district. The statue, “Fearless Girl”, depicts a defiant young girl, just over four feet tall, with hands on her hips, ready to take on the world. A plaque accompanying the statue reads, “Know the power of women in leadership, SHE makes all the difference.”
The phrase “a man’s world,” commonly used to refer to the world of business and the leaders of commerce, seems to have so little relevance today, particularly across the Cape’s landscape of small, innovative and successful commercial ventures. This area is such a unique and dynamic place that one might suggest the over-arching component to success is an abundantly strong work ethic—a characteristic women across the Cape have in spades.
Banking has always been a solid choice for women on Cape Cod.
A long list of compelling reasons could be compiled to explain the prevalence of successful women rising through the ranks of local financial institutions, with hard work and empathy topping the roster.
Theresa Richards, First Vice President, Cape Cod District Manager for Rockland Trust, credits her success, both within the organization as well as outside in the community, to having a strong foundation of understanding for the local businesses and residents who call Cape Cod home.
Richards, who grew up in Chatham when her parents moved here in 1970, says that she identifies with the individuals and businesses in this community because of her roots and the many years she has been in service to her neighbors. “When I say I have only interviewed for a job once, I am not making a joke,” Richards, who has worked for the bank for over 35 years, explains. “I have been fortunate to be able to grow as our organization has grown, and as a result, my relationship with our customers and the community as a whole has also grown.” Richards credits her fellow employees with mentoring and challenging her through the years for the success she has earned.
Richards says the banking industry is more than a financial conduit for its customers across the region, “We are the partner so many people turn to when they need support, guidance or assistance.” That partnership is evident in Richards’ generosity of time and commitment to a long list of local boards, non-profits and individuals she supports through the bank’s underwriting as well as her own expertise and mentoring.
Rockland Trust is celebrating its 20th anniversary on Cape Cod. The organization has been providing services on the Cape Cod since 2000 and Richards cites the importance of understanding the Cape’s past, and how it relates to its present and ultimately its future, as paramount to successfully serving her customers and the community as a whole. “I grew up here, I’ve known many of these people for most of my life,” she confirms. “I have seen my parents move here, put down roots, raise a family and retire. I followed a similar path. That understanding of the life cycles here on the Cape is invaluable when dealing with the individuals I encounter every day through my responsibilities at Rockland Trust. People may come to you one day with a banking questions and the next day with a completely non-banking related question. It is that concierge mentality that is needed to connect with a lot of people, from many different walks of life, and understanding what we share in common.”
“The bank’s tagline is ‘Where each relationship matters,’ and I really take that to heart. During this past year, which has been so challenging for so many, we provided opportunities for our ‘family,’ our customers, to do business with us however they feel most comfortable. Sometimes, that means in a person’s home. To me, that is good business, but more importantly it is being a good person.”
Richards also understands the importance of giving back, leading by example. Her commitments include blood, sweat and tears, as she has participated in the virtual Falmouth Road Race this year and made sure to have her seven mile route cross paths with some of her branches. Internally she has provided valuable mentoring to Rockland Trust employees that are working to elevate their own contributions. 2021 marks the second year that the Bill Matteson Leadership Award will be presented to a deserving employee. This year, Richards is proud to announce that Patrice Pimental, her branch manager of Mashpee, who undoubtedly had an inspiring example to follow, will be the recipient. “The components around the award are coaching and mentoring, care and respect, and integrity. My alignment with this individual was truly a two-way exchange, and it shows through strong and effective mentoring we can foster really strong and impactful leaders, and everyone benefits from that.”
Lisa Guyon, Executive Director for WE CAN, a Cape Cod organization whose own title is an acronym for Women’s Empowerment through Cape Area Networking, knows a bit about mentoring and serving her community. 2021 represents 20 years that this invaluable resource has been providing access to professional services and experts in the areas of legal, employment, business support, and financial empowerment for women in transition who might not otherwise be able to access those services. “We do it by recruiting volunteers in each of those areas and connect the dots between the volunteers and women who might need life skill development, expertise and information, and generally building their confidence around those issues that can help stabilize their lives, in order to start to build pathways to self-sufficiency,” Guyon explains.
WE CAN’s extensive network of volunteers is a Who’s Who list of business professionals across the Cape, many of whom are household names for some, and most of whom are women. Guyon says their valuable volunteers, mentors, and staff are at the core of how and why WE CAN has been supporting women for two decades. “When I think about the kind of intersection WE CAN provides, it is tapping into those incredible experts in our community, and then facilitating access between the women in need, and the experts who can help establish a path to a sustainable future.”
The past year has obviously presented challenges to everyone, so it would track that WE CAN would have seen significant need as well as unprecedented barriers to providing connections. In fact, Guyon shares that the shift in communication style most of society has adopted as a result of a pandemic has actually allowed WE CAN to expand their services geographically, as well to members of the community who may not have been able to access services due to transportation or schedule limitations. “We have been fortunate that our volunteers and professional mentors have been flexible in providing connections with women in need, and on the flipside, in many ways a phone call or a ZOOM call was less cumbersome or intimidating than a face-to-face meeting for our clients that need resources,” Guyon explains. When asked what the future holds, Guyon reveals that the unexpected benefit of virtual meetings will in all likelihood continue in a hybrid approach due to the more effective penetration of the community.
Guyon says, “I think about our programs along a continuum. Often someone might come into our programs because of an episode, for example they might need legal advice. In that case, they would come in, and then step back out after they have gotten what they need from our services. In those cases, we pair one-to-one with our expert volunteers. But then later on, someone might have a more in-depth need, which is where our workshops come into play. They are focused around those same areas such as key areas as legal support, or business support and employment. Then we have programs that are more duration based, like GROW-group programs, mentoring programs, and divorce support groups and these programs are intended to provide a more lasting impact on their lives.”
Celebrating a milestone such as two decades of providing services would ordinarily involve celebrations and galas but 2021, like 2020, anticipates virtual presentations for most of their annual events. Building on the foundation that 20 years has laid for the organization, Guyon expects to see the organization become even more innovative. “I see our anniversary as a critical and wonderful turning point for us into our future, where we take all these lessons we have been taught and ways we have had to adapt over the last year and go deeper into the needs of the community while we leverage technology in different ways for us to deliver our services,” she says with confidence.
“The 2021 summer programs are already filling up,” Reckford says as everyone prepares for an unknown set of criteria ahead.
Across the Cape, the arts are alive, they are vital and if 2020 has taught us anything, they are essential businesses here on Cape Cod.
Building & Design
Lauren Huard grew up in a family well versed in design. Huard’s father, Peter Malone, created Seaport Shutter Company and her mother, Marsha Malone, is the maven behind Nautique, a premier retail shop for home furnishings and interior design. Both businesses, which are based in Brewster, have been providing style and impeccable design for homes across the region for 25 years. Huard, a Boston College alum, was exposed to the inner workings of Seaport Shutter and Nautique from an early age. She recalls helping her mother on interior design projects and accompanying her father on sales calls to measure for shutters and doors at some of the most iconic properties on the Cape and Islands. In 2012, Huard, having worked for TV news and public relations in Boston, left her career to join the family business full time. Today, Huard handles customer relations, sales and is the face of Seaport Shutter and Nautique to many clients.
“What are the elements that make up thoughtful design? In this business you need style, flair and panache,” Huard says. “With my public relations background, I’ve been able to connect with customers on the business side, but also on the personal side. I truly love people and enjoy listening and learning about their family demographic which ultimately drives the design of the products.”
Seaport Shutter’s collection of products, and Nautique’s eye-catching design have been so widely accepted in the marketplace that Huard found it necessary to make the transition to the family business.
For Seaport Shutter, their mahogany screen and storm doors have become the brand. From Provincetown to Chatham on through to Falmouth, Nantucket and the South Shore, the Seaport Shutter brand is recognized by homeowners, builders and architects. “It was a natural, easy transition for me. I watched my parents develop both businesses from an idea on a paper napkin. I remember as a little girl my father would sell shutters at night after his corporate finance day job, all to try to prove the concept of a shutter company,” Huard recalls.
As the idea of their daughter joining the business developed, Peter and Marsha didn’t realize how good she would be. “Although I had great expectations, I was surprised at how quickly Lauren became effective in mastering the details of the business and how she created great rapport with our customers,” Peter says.
Nautique also provided an opportunity for Huard to showcase her own colorful style through fabric and paint selection. “Lauren is a natural in this business,” Marsha says. “The clients love her personality and spunk, but most importantly she listens to their needs, helping to create a space that is functional, but cheerful.”
Seaport Shutter and Nautique operate their showrooms out of the same historic building on Route 6A in Brewster, which was one of Cape Cod’s original gas stations. The advantage of the businesses being housed in the same building, is that customers may come in for interior design and realize they haven’t given consideration to how their front door or their shutters contribute to the overall flow of their home. On the flip side, they may have decided to update the exterior, and suddenly when they enter Nautique, everything is in play. People enjoy the options and the connection of the two businesses.
Huard says it is all about the intersection of wonderful craftsmanship and flair, coming together for that dashing look. “We are in the business of quality, but we are also in the business of style,” Huard says.
Irina MacPhee, owner of Pastiche of Cape Cod, an interior design firm in Dennis Port, and its subsidiary Water-Mark Cabinetry, also knows what it is like when your daughter discovers an interest and a talent for the career that you’ve spent your life building. MacPhee’s daughter Adin Weatherley joined the team at Pastiche in the summer of 2019. Weatherley says she didn’t have many expectations when she first jumped in. “I didn’t know what I would be doing, I mostly just wanted to help,” Weatherley explains. “I have grown up with design my whole life; as kids we were surrounded by fabrics, and samples, and design boards, so it’s pretty much in my DNA.”
Since 2019, Weatherley and MacPhee have worked side-by-side on over 20 projects across the Cape. Interior design, project management, kitchen design and general contracting are just some of the major responsibilities the team at Pastiche take on and with each project MacPhee says her daughter has become an invaluable member of the organization. “It is wonderful to not only have the confidence in Adin to accomplish the tasks and critical steps of any project, but it is really something special to step back and observe your child mastering any situation,” MacPhee shares.
She goes on to say that it was gratifying to see how quickly Weatherley is able to develop a strong working relationship with the clients, “She really develops a great rapport with the clients and they just love working with her.”
The shifting sands of families and where people are able to choose to work during a pandemic brought more of MacPhee’s brood to the nest. Ania Weatherley, MacPhee’s eldest daughter, lives in California where she pursues her passion for finance as a financial analyst for a high tech company. Accompanied by her toddler daughter, MacPhee’s first grandchild, Ania moved home to the Cape since she had the freedom to work from anywhere. “It has been great to be back home with my family, and I never expected this, but it has given me an opportunity to apply my expertise to my mother’s business,” Ania explains. “I have watched her through the years not finding what she needs from various accountants of business managers, and I thought she deserved so much more.”
Now Ania has added responsibilities of financial forecasting and management for MacPhee’s busy operation to her busy life as a bi-coastal finance professional/new mother, and the whole family couldn’t be happier. MacPhee, who counts her blessings every day, realizes the rare opportunity she has as her business continues to grow. The myriad of projects and responsibilities she and Weatherley have added to their growing portfolio has inspired MacPhee to expand the offerings of the company with a new kitchen showroom, design/build and construction management service from the former West Barnstable location on Route 6A.
“We’re busy, but we are also so fortunate,” MacPhee shares. “I can’t believe my daughters are here and that I get to work with them every day. I am obviously proud, but I am mostly in awe. We are so lucky.”
Samantha Nikula grew up in the building business. Her father Dale Nikula began his business as a contractor on the Cape the same year she was born. Today, 35 years later, the father and daughter team work side-by-side at Encore Construction in Dennis Port. Dale, a co-principal with Kathy DeMeyer, brought his daughter on board in 2013 when he sat her down and told her he wanted her to have the opportunity to someday take the business to places he could only imagine.
“Through college and after, I always knew I wanted to be a business owner,” Samantha shares. “I didn’t know what kind of business I wanted to own. When my Dad told me what he hoped for me, I was a little confused because I told him I didn’t know construction like he does. But he said, ‘You know people.’”
Clearly Dale knew his daughter. A self-described people-person, Samantha recognizes that it is paramount in the construction industry to have competent, knowledgeable individuals executing your project, but also says, “It is such an investment and is actually a very intimate business because you are building shelter for people’s lives, the thing they value most, so you have to trust that person as well. My father saw those qualities in me that could work closely with the clients.”
Dale set Samantha on a path of learning and accomplishment within the organization as he suggested she start from the bottom and learn the business. “I started at the front desk for a while, and then I handled all of the books which led to some financial forecasting,” Samantha recalls. “I did some project management, and then I took some design classes. I never expected it, but I really loved designing. It’s funny because my journey of discover led me right to where my father hoped I would end-up.”
Dale understood that. given the opportunity along with a supportive and fostering foundation, Samantha would find something new in herself, in addition to her outgoing personality and organizational skills. Today, Samantha handles much of the forward momentum of the business: the marketing, the business development, the client management and yes, the design process.
When asked what the future may have in store, Samantha says she is where she is supposed to be, and someday, she will be part of the senior management team.
Woven deeply into the fabric of what makes Cape Cod so alluring are the creators, the artisans, and the dreamers.
Through their unique interpretation of how they perceive and experience the landscape, the environment and the lifeblood that surrounds all of us is where we are able to pause and consider a different perspective. Behind, and sometimes within, those artists are the people who understand how to present our arts as an invaluable business resource.
Imagining what the Cape would be like with only the bare amenities of lodging and dining for those visiting or living here, seems akin to a bad horror film. A community devoid of culture most certainly would be inhabited by a less than human life form. The arts are where we are able to confirm our love for our beaches, architecture, gardens, wildlife, and human relationships. It is through the arts that we achieve self-confirmation as well as an understanding of our place in the greater gathering of others.
Helen Addison, owner and founder of Addison Art Gallery in Orleans understands the arts, and more importantly understands artists. Arguably Addison is one of the most passionate and knowledgeable advocates for artists on the Cape. She first made a mark on Cape Cod winning over 80 regional and international awards for her advertising agency which managed marketing and public relations for such accounts as Cape Air, Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Corcoran Jennison Companies and five banks on the Cape and Islands. With strong ties to the Provincetown Art Colony and the Cape Cod School of Art, 25 years ago she started to put that marketing expertise to work for the Addison Art Gallery, its artists and collectors.
When asked about Addison’s relationship with her artists, internationally collected oil painter Paul Schulenburg says, “Helen is attentive, hard working, diligent, focused, responsive, responsible.
“She works with each artist to develop a relationship with collectors, and to help recognize what collectors are responding to; not telling artists what kind of work to create, but to let them know what kind of work is getting the best responses from collectors.
“Running a gallery can be like running a three ring circus, and it helps to have a good ringmaster.”
Another artist represented by Addison, SaraJane Doberstein, credits Addison for her unique support, “Helen always stays connected no matter the time of year or distance of the artists and really encourages camaraderie. She always knows what is going on professionally and personally with the artists and is better able to connect art with collectors by being able to talk about what they’re up to.”
Through the years, the Addison Art Gallery has brought artists and art into towns with plein air events, demonstrations, talks, panel discussions and exhibitions in public spaces, including the Cape Cod Museum of Art, Highfield Hall, libraries and the Cape Cod National Seashore Visitors Center. One extremely popular endeavor is “After Hopper” which celebrates the artists of today who continue to pursue Hopper’s path in their own unique ways. Other events include “In Thoreau’s Views”, “Before the Masterpieces’, and “Outermost Inspirations”. The gallery continues to bring attention to the art being produced on Cape Cod today with these events that are nationally and locally acknowledged and is the only gallery in the region that has been sought out by Oil Painters of America, National Oil & Acrylic Painters’ Society, and American Women Artists to host their national exhibitions.
When asked to reflect on those that have inspired her, Addison mentions two highly respected artists who are now deceased. “Elizabeth Pratt and Joyce Johnson shared their enthusiasm, not just for their own work, but for the wonders created by so many living and working on Cape Cod. Perhaps best of all, as hard as we worked, we always found reasons to laugh.”
Addison’s decades of community involvement grew exponentially in the past year during the pandemic as the gallery promoted, and financially supported, dozens of groups ranging from community organizations like Cape Cod Children’s Place, Family Pantry of Cape Cod and Cape Wellness Collaborative, to cultural associations like Wellfleet Harbor Actors Theater, WOMR, and various libraries, to iconic organizations like Center for Coastal Studies, Cape Cod Commercial Fishermen’s Alliance, Orleans Conservation Trust, Wild Care and others.
Addison confirms her commitment by saying, “Now in our 25th year, we know it is an honor to support so many artists and to serve this community. I give heartfelt thanks to our artists and our clients for giving us the opportunity to do so.”
Christine McCarthy, CEO of the Provincetown Art Association and Museum (PAAM) has been at the helm for 20 years. During her tenure, she has been responsible for a newly renovated space that includes a modern, expansive exhibition space that anchors the historic arts colony in the 21st century. Through the years, McCarthy says she has had to earn the credibility she has undoubtedly provided the organization, despite a solid career of working for art venues and museums for 30 years. “One of the biggest misconceptions I continually encounter is that people have not viewed the arts as a business,” McCarthy shares. “Oddly, this past year during the pandemic, people have come to realize how essential museums and nonprofits are, but also I think everyone was surprised (myself and my staff included), how quickly we are able to shift and re-align to meet the needs of what the public is looking for.”
McCarthy talks about how she had to move and change direction, and how much of what they offer as a cultural resource to the Cape community was a leap of faith that things would work.
“I’m generally a gut instinct kind of person,” she confirms. “I had to make decisions sometimes overnight to make sure our business didn’t fold. A lot of people assume we are a luxury charity; a non-essential unlike healthcare or food, and in some ways that is correct, but we learned during 2021 that health and wellness comes through the arts, and people cannot live without a creative outlet.” McCarthy came to this conclusion as she noticed an increase in second homeowners retreating to their Outer Cape homes during the pandemic. She says that this population was continually amazed at the level of off-season programming the museum offered. Programming that included art classes, workshops and programs for kids. “It was eye-opening, not only for the public, but for me and my staff as well, as we started to have conversations with a population we would have previously only sent communication that involved fundraising support. Now they were here and we all needed the arts,” McCarthy recalls.
McCarthy’s revelation that her discourse and relationship with the public, particularly the previously seasonal public, had taken on new meaning was an opportunity that she believes has deepened the community’s awareness and commitment to the organization.
“Nothing was easy in 2020,” McCarthy states, “but suddenly when we opened for an exhibit, and we weren’t able to offer the usual wine and cheese, people were now focused on every part of the exhibition. Maybe social distancing contributed too, because conversations weren’t close and intimate, so the attention was on the art. I wasn’t the only one to notice, countless people would come up to me and say they felt starved and seeing this art was like having a great meal.”
McCarthy sees the roles of a cultural organization, particularly one as iconic as PAAM, as playing a role that society sometimes does, and sometimes doesn’t, realize its needs. Case in point, as Cape residents retreat indoors during the colder months, sometimes a reason to venture out is all we need. McCarthy and her team, including one of PAAM’s member artists, launched a new scavenger hunt in Provincetown on March 1st, entitled ArtTrek, which involves 21 wine bottles that contain a prize certificate, that have been hidden around the town. Finders are posting their treasure, as well as their hunt, on the museum’s Instagram page. McCarthy says, “Everyday I get messages from people saying they have walked miles and miles all over town in search of the bottles. And I have had plenty of bribes, but I seriously have no idea where they are hidden.”
McCarthy credits ingenuity of the scavenger hunt to a collaboration between her board and her staff. “People can participate at their own pace and it is safe. The number one thing is to make things accessible, safe and most importantly fun,” she says. “People are looking to have fun again.”
Laura Reckford is also responsible for an arts organization, the Falmouth Art Center, and she knows that people want to experience creativity and fun as well. Reckford has navigated among businesses and individuals for decades as she wrote and edited for a variety of publications, including Cape Cod Life where she served as managing editor 26 years ago. In her capacity of interviewing wide swaths of people, Reckford has learned that everyone has an amazing story, and she feels that it is a special responsibility to properly share those stories. Reckford’s story is rooted in the understanding that everything that is negotiated and managed within the world of writing and publishing is its own sort of business. So when it came to take the mantel at Falmouth Art Center, she was uniquely prepared to manage the business of the organization all while fostering and continuing their story.
What started in 1965 as the Falmouth Artists Guild, an organization primarily focused on creating opportunities for members to exhibit their art, has become a robust, multi-disciplined cultural center that serves a critical role in the Upper Cape’s creative landscape. Reckford joined the organization almost three years ago, and immediately hit the ground running. “I have such respect for the history of this organization,” Reckford shares. “This organization was here a long time before I arrived and I expect it will continue long after I have left. It is rooted in the incredible artists that have always been at the core.”
Like so many others, Falmouth Art Center needed to re-imagine its possibilities when the world retreated in 2020. And like so many organizations that are fueled by creativity and imagination, it just took a bit of ingenuity to offer the valuable programming the community yearned for.
“Most of our teachers have offered their classes on Zoom and despite initially not being familiar with it, most have really mastered it and learned how to make their classes both interesting and personal,” Reckford states. Summer camp looked to be in danger of cancellation during the 2020 summer, but resourcefulness, a rented tent, a second donated tent, all added up to a program roster that kept kids busy and provided a break for parents who had struggled for months as they tried to stimulate their children’s imaginations while quarantining.
Health & Wellness
Beth Madden Warner, the owner of Therapeutic Bodywork in Cotuit, is someone who is constantly open and receptive to the positive impact of self-care and balance. The Osterville native opened her business in June of 2004 with one small treatment room where she offered massage as a therapeutic option to treat pain and injury. “I was always really interested in injury specific work, something like low back pain,” Warner explains. “For me, I always loved working the body like a jigsaw puzzle. I would try to create space to allow for optimal blood and oxygen flow. I believe most disease or imbalance starts with a blockage, so even in my bodywork I would look for ways to release the blockages.”
Six years after opening, Warner’s business had grown to a point where she couldn’t accept new clients so she expanded to two treatment rooms and brought on a couple of additional practitioners. Today, the center has grown to occupy the entire front of the building, with seven treatment rooms and services that include massage, acupuncture, reflexology, skin care and waxing and craniosacral therapy.
“The vision was always to diversify,” Warner recalls. “I always had a strong interest in nutritional medicine, and other holistic modalities that help heal your body naturally. I was fortunate to experience Chinese medicine in my early twenties and it has been my primary medicine since. So, I had always wanted to open a wellness center with a variety of healing offerings.”
What makes Therapeutic Bodywork so different from other wellness centers is at the core of Warner’s vision and commitment to her clients. “I don’t think you can have wellness without self–respect and self-love,” Warner shares. “A big part of what we do here is to try to cultivate that self-love with self-care and helping you make yourself a priority.
“The other thing we focus on here is stress management. We know stress wreaks havoc on our health and we really try to help people manage their stress through all of the things we offer here. Our intention is to help your nervous system reset, allowing your body to heal. Hopefully this sets our clients up on their paath to wellness. “
This self-care proposition that Warner and her team promote doesn’t take shape automatically, especially with new clients. Warner says that is an earned relationship, but everyone at Therapeutic Bodyworks is committed to the mission. “It starts when someone calls to book their first appointment. To take that action, there has to be some level of self-respect, because you are prioritizing yourself, you’re making time for you. We don’t instigate the commitment to yourself, but we are here to promote and foster it, in order to help people heal,” Warner explains.
Warner says in the beginning, over 15 years ago, people used to refer to massage as a luxury or a pampering. “I barely hear that anymore, people understand what we are doing here —we offer a regimen that facilitates wellness,” she says.
In keeping with the philosophy that the services Therapeutic Bodywork offers its clients are not frivolous indulgences, Warner introduced memberships for monthly services. For a fixed monthly rate, at a variety of investment levels, clients can choose from a suite of treatments. The offering has become so popular, the business has reached capacity and is accepting members on a waiting list.
Beth Madden Warner found a path of wellness that allowed her to live her best life; and like most people who experience transformation she wanted to share it. Thankfully, her foray into offering therapeutic massage from one treatment room in quaint and quiet Cotuit has grown through self-love and self-respect to provide a path for wellness for Cape Codders who are looking for some balance.
Katie Scott, owner of Pure Vita Modern Apothecary in Eastham, is also realizing her life’s passion. Providing a resource for all natural body and home products such as lotions, balms, detergents and CBD products, the small shop has become a bustling hub of activity for those on the Outer Cape in search of high-quality wellness products. Scott opened her store in January of 2019. Most business plans would not recommend launching a new niche retail venture during the quiet off-season of an Outer Cape town like Eastham, but Scott’s grand opening event in the darkest month of the year, lit the community with great excitement.
“Our opening was packed,” Scott recalls. “From the first day, it was clear we were offering products that people were definitely embracing.” One of the unique, and previously unavailable, options customers find at Pure Vita is the zero-waste, non-toxic, re-fill station for shampoo and conditioners, dish soap, cleansers, hand sanitizers, bug spray and other unexpected products.
Scott’s path to an emporium of health and wellness did not take a traditional route. She spent 10 years moving through the ranks of the Sherwin-Williams Company, where she supported and promoted the sale of color through the company’s various paint and coating products. Scott credits the immersive and broad training commitment Sherwin-Williams makes to its employees for knowledgeable training and management. “Honestly, as different as this business is from a national paint company, every day I use skills I learned in that corporate environment. My experience there definitely prepared me to run my own business,” Scott confirms.
There were other influencing factors along the way as well. Scott credits her mother, an internationally recognized astrologer with setting the bar high for success. “I am constantly reminded of how much a mentor my mother has been my entire life,” Scott explains. “She instilled a sense that you never do anything halfway, it is 100% or more, or it’s nothing. And she never communicated that in a direct way, I just saw her master everything she ever attempted and so I thought there was only one way to do things.” The success of the small shop on Route 6 in North Eastham is the latest example of that work ethic that has been handed down.
Scott also has a few personal passions that have driven her business. She has been making her own lotions, balms and salves as well as bath bombs long before she opened her retail operation. Her commitment to an organic, all-natural list of ingredients, that are locally sourced whenever feasible is at the core of how her products differ from others that are widely available.
Another passion that has transformed her life and that she hopes will impact others is her commitment to reducing waste and her impact on the environment. “When considering what I would offer for products in the store, at the top of the list I knew I wanted a re-fill station so that people could stop disposing of empty containers,” Scott explains. “All too often people dismiss adopting changes that will benefit the planet, but truly just starting with one small change like committing to a refillable option can make a big difference. I always suggest people try just one thing, make one change and start there. Like swap out dryer sheets for dryer balls. We have essential oils that can be applied to the wool dryer balls and I will bet most people will find they prefer them to the chemically infused, trash producing products they have used for years.”
One blustery January in 2019, a year before the world retreated into their homes with a newfound sense of health and wellness, a little shop on the Outer Cape opened their doors and welcomed their neighbors into a world full of natural scents and solutions for a healthier life and a healthier planet.
Cathy Alekna has been selling children’s clothing at her store Kid & Kaboodle in Orleans for 35 years. Her store is the kind of place where shopping for a new baby becomes a giddy celebration, and when finding the perfect holiday outfit or something that will endure for years in a family portrait, there are simply no other destinations. Christenings, first birthdays and first days of school, these are the kind of occasions Alekna’s customers have come to know Kid & Kaboodle will have the perfect outfit.
Alekna fell in love with the Cape in her early 20s and moved here shortly after. Her first job on the Cape was in retail and she considered opening her own store someday, despite the usual trepidation. Oddly, after the Space Shuttle Challenger tragedy occurred in 1986, Alekna strengthened her resolve by understanding the astronauts courage left her with no excuses for not being courageous on a much safer level.
Alekna cites her place in the close-knit Orleans community as an extended family. From the local bankers who took a chance on her in the beginning, to the regular customers who clothed their children and now their grandchildren, to the many worthy charitable organizations who are always grateful to get a donation from the store they know will make their donors bid generously. But things haven’t always been as carefree as the designs that grace much of her product lines.
“I’ve seen many economic downturns over the years, and thankfully I have always been able to adjust,” she shares. “I didn’t start where I am now. It has evolved over time. In the beginning I was in a much smaller space down the road; today we have 2,700 square feet. We are now one of the largest children’s specialty shops in New England, but we started with humble beginnings. I just keep telling myself persistence pays off!”
Alekna says one of the secrets to the success of her business is the ability to adapt to changing times and 2020 put that tenet to the test. Together with her store manager Jessica McLaughlin, without whom Alekna says she couldn’t have survived, the store has prevailed and Alekna is looking forward to adding to the generations of their loyal (and well-dressed) customers.
Chelsea Hayes Dombrowski is at the beginning of her retail journey. The young entrepreneur funneled her mounting frustration for the ineffective and unsatisfying industry of swimwear fashion into a business plan for an entrepreneurship class her senior year at the University of Massachusetts-Lowell. Her passionate project resonated with her parents, particularly her father who has owned his own business since he was Chelsea’s age, and they agreed to support her dream.
Together, Chelsea and her parents opened her first store, Chelsea’s Swimwear & Apparel, that features swimwear and accessories for a wide array of adult women in Yarmouth in May of 2016, the day after she graduated from college. The store was so successful, as Chelsea put her thoughtful elements of her business plan into motion, the next step lead to Main Street in Hyannis for a second location in October that would be open year round. Again, the magic touch that Chelsea brought to her store, her customers and her suppliers had the young woman looking for a larger space. In the fall of 2019, she was able to move next door and increase her retail space five-fold.
An important part of Chelsea’s original business plan involved listening to her customers and as the store rolled into the tumultuous year of 2020, her customers were looking for spacious shopping experiences and lower prices, which suggested the Hyannis location would make a great outlet store. Instead of being a satellite location to the main store in Yarmouth, Hyannis quickly became a second flagship store. “I couldn’t have done it without the huge help my mother provided,” Chelsea recalls. “In my family, we have a saying that there is ‘no one more down for the cause than Edie.’ And sure enough, she went from part time to around 70 hours a week. Staffing during the pandemic was very challenging and without her, I can’t say we would still be open.”
When asked how she developed her strong sense of business acumen at such a young age, Chelsea says, “There is a quote, ‘Never take up less space in life to make someone else feel more comfortable.’ As women, a lot of the time we minimize ourselves. Society teaches us to do it from a young age and you have to actively break those habits. Like apologizing when you don’t need to or saying, ‘I think’ when you KNOW something.”
One thing is clear: Chelsea Hayes Dombrowski knows her mind, knows her customers and knows her business.
Katherine Liatsos is also a retail clothing shop owner. But, she is a few other things as well. In addition to being a thoroughly engaging conversationalist, she also has a few professional designations that accompany her name. She is a J.D. (meaning that she has a Juris Doctorate degree, or law degree), and she also has an M.A. (a Masters degree) in psychotherapy. So why you may wonder is she spending her time in her women’s clothing and accessories store, Katherine with locations on Main Street in Osterville and at Mashpee Commons?
“I was living in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, a practicing therapist and a retail store owner, and my parents who live on the Cape were getting older and I wasn’t seeing them as often as I would have liked,” she explains. Coincidently, her store in Jackson was also called Katherine, the kind of detail one suspects Katherine enjoys in its simplicity.
The bespoke merchandise that Liatsos offers at both of her locations is the kind of clothing that makes you feel special simply by wearing it. Nothing more, nothing less, just the elegant kind of effortless style women like Jackie Onassis, Princess Diana and Amal Clooney seem to embue with every outfit they wear. Liatsos’s instinct for pairing the blouses, dresses, slacks and sweaters that subtly command attention in her elegant store is part of the mystique that she exudes.
The first Cape store in Osterville opened in December 2019, really almost too late to have made an impact on that year’s holiday shopping. “I was driving down the street and I saw the sign in the window of the space saying it was available for lease,” she recalls. “So I called the number and that was that.” Despite a tumultuous 2020 for retail, the response to the store was very positive, prompting a second location in Mashpee Commons that Liatsos opened last October.
Why would a highly educated young woman as bright and interesting as Liatsos open a retail store with luxurious clothing and home accessories? Probably because she appreciates and treasures the simplicity and pleasure that can be found in high quality products. And because, while she does have a passion for helping people through her work as a psychotherapist, the painful truth is that the difficulty of establishing a practice, coupled with the inadequate compensation given to those who commit to care for the psychologically challenged in our society makes the singular pursuit of providing therapy a challenge.
Imagine a world where the seemingly disparate parts of Liatsos’s world would intersect: a boutique salon of fashion, where you could indulge in luxurious designs, and feel comfortable enough to share your innermost turmoil and trepidations. If anyone could realize such a fantasy, it would be Katherine Liatsos. At least for now, her stores are providing great retail therapy.
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