To inspire our leaders of tomorrow, we asked these female entrepreneurs and business owners salient questions to learn more about their professional acumen, experience and talents.
Photos by CHELSEA CRONKRITE
A Jones Company
Cashiers Candy Shoppe
On Instagram @ ajonescompany
My businesses: A Jones Company is a fun, eclectic and inspiring gift shop. We carry women’s clothing, such as Johnny Was, Barefoot Dreams, Z Supply, Dear John Denim and Walker & Wade. We also sell handcrafted jewelry, home décor, entertaining provisions, barware and hostess gifts. Our motto is “Provisions for Fun Living,” and we pride ourselves in delivering goods that do just that. Cashiers Candy Shoppe carries upscale, handcrafted confections. We offer truffles, Toffee to Go, Poppy Handcrafted Popcorn and Jelly Belly Jellybeans.
Best Business Advice I Ever Received: Follow your instincts. I have carried that advice with me when buying for the shop to decorating the shop to hiring.
Words of Wisdom to Other Women: If you have a dream—a vision of what you want to do—just do it! Don’t let anyone else tell you that you don’t have the capabilities, the skill or the means to accomplish your dreams.
Why I chose this career: I chose this career path because it was a dream of mine and my mother's to own a gift shop. A Jones Company is named after myself and my mom, Ann. Unfortunately, she passed two months before the shop was opened in 2014. I didn't have any experience in running a business and was leaning on her expertise. While she has been gone for a bit now, I still know that her presence is very much with me!
The Secret to Good Business Is: Listen to your customers and treat everyone with respect and a cheerful heart.
You’d Never Guess That: If you don’t know me, you probably don’t know that I have five children!
Why I love Doing Business in Highlands-Cashiers: I have made many very good friends on the plateau by getting to know them in the shop. It is truly a joy to come to work each day just to see who I can visit with! Also, I get to bring Daisy and Dash, my wonderful dogs, to work with me every day! There is a strong sense of community here that is hard to find.
Laura Moser Art
My Business: Art Studio and Gallery
Best Business Advice I Ever Received: Be yourself, be authentic.
Words of Wisdom to Other Women: Be brave! Move forward! There are no failures, only learning experiences.
Why I Chose This Career: I came from a graphic design background, designing for others. It was a big step to create work that came just from me. Being authentic in the work is hard but much more satisfying.
The Secret to Good Business Is: Interacting with people who like my work. I love being at the gallery and talking to people about my work and the thought process behind it.
You’d Never Guess That: I love keeping chickens and have built two chicken coops.
Why I Love Doing Business in Highlands-Cashiers: The people here are so nice! The pace is much more relaxed than in the city.
Our Business: TJ Bailey’s is a boutique offering men’s and women’s clothing and fine jewelry.
Words of Wisdom to Other Women: Believe in yourself. Act from your heart. Accept support.
Why We Chose This Career: We love to empower people by dressing them for success. TJ Bailey’s exists to create a spirited environment for the best possible shopping experience. Customers leave feeling good.
The Secret to Good Business Is: Our business is like a big family; we support our clients, each other and our community.
Why We Love Doing Business In Highlands-Cashiers: We have devoted customers who come back year after year, and they become much more than clients to us.
Our Business: Rusticks. We specialize in sophisticated, mountain chic furniture and interior design.
Best Business Advice I Ever Received: I was very fortunate to work for Ann Sherrill, the founder of Rusticks. Ann was and continues to be a great mentor and friend. Ann taught me to always do the right thing. Be who you are and run your business the way you believe is best.
Words of Wisdom to Other Women: I teach my daughter and other young women that they should believe in themselves. I tell them to live with integrity; to have confidence and conviction in their values and stay true to themselves. Also, it’s very important to surround yourself with people who support you and your goals. You should be that person for others, too.
Why I Chose This Career: From a very young age, I have enjoyed interior design and furniture. My parents never knew how my furniture was going to be arranged when they walked into my room or what color I would paint the walls. There is something very magical about the power of the perfect space.
The Secret to Good Business Is: Fantastic Customer Service. We treat everyone with the same courtesy and respect whether they are simply browsing through or purchasing furniture for a new home. Our customers are our friends. We love when they stop by the store to say hello and see what new goodies we have recently received.
You’d Never Guess That: I am completely addicted to candy (except chocolate), and I love to exercise. Candy is always around at Rusticks. You do not need to be addicted to candy to be hired, but we will get you there soon enough!
Why I Love Doing Business In Highlands-Cashiers: I love everything about the Highlands-Cashiers area. I know I am so lucky to live in this beautiful area and raise my family while pursuing the career I have always wanted. The majesty of this area and the wonderful people who call it home (or at least second home) is a combination that would be hard to find anywhere else.
Dutchmans Casual Living Stores
Our Business: Dutchmans Casual Living Stores. Our business is to inspire the creative in everyone with color and an eclectic mix of furniture, home accessories and beautiful gifts.
Best Business Advice I Ever Received: Always wait to hire the right person who is a good fit for you and your business.
Words of Wisdom to Other Women: Never stop believing in yourself. There will be some tough times, but you can do it.
Why I Chose This Career: I’m passionate about design and merchandising. It truly makes me happy inside.
The Secret to Good Business Is: Definitely good customer service. Clients and customers will always remember the experience, good or bad.
You’d Never Guess That: I was born in New Zealand and grew up in Australia.
Why I Love Doing Business In Highlands-Cashiers: It’s a small, supportive community. And who doesn’t love this beautiful landscape?
The Molly Grace
Our Business: The Molly Grace, named after the owner’s mother and two daughters, is a small boutique right off Main Street in Highlands. Some consider us a gift store, but we carry clothing, jewelry, home goods, baby items and more! You can shop with us in-store or online.
Best Business Advice I Ever Received: Have faith in yourself. If you believe you can accomplish it, it’s halfway done. Whatever goal you’re reaching for may take longer than you expect, but you’re perfectly capable of accomplishing it.
Words of Wisdom to Other Women: Be exactly who you want to be. The retail world has so many outlets, but who’s to say you can’t draw all of your favorites together? Obviously, you have to reach your market, but you can make it representative of you at the same time. Brand yourself alongside your company.
Why I Chose This Career: I was thankfully introduced to this career at a young age when my mother opened the business. I immediately fell in love with it. I was young, so I’ve gotten to grow alongside it and have developed a passion for it. I genuinely want to keep learning and growing.
The Secret to Good Business Is: Keep growing! Don’t stop finding ways to improve. Everything around you is constantly changing, so you have to adjust along with it. Things don’t need to change just to change, but don’t let yourself reach a standstill.
You’d Never Guess That: I would get irritated with my mom when she first started this business because of the constant research she would do; I just couldn’t understand it. Now I’m a little older (and a lot more educated) and spend all my free time thinking about and researching new ideas!
Why I Love Doing Business in Highlands-Cashiers: The community standing behind the local small businesses is what I love most about the area. The deep understanding of what it means to shop small, by both locals and visitors, allows us to continue to grow!
redFOX Design Shop
Our Business: redFOX Design Shop is broad in scope, pulling together all aspects of architecture: houses, offices, furniture, cabinets and more. It is a full spectrum design shop. The work is collaborative and has ambitions to be “aesthetic” and systematic in a way that serves its user.
Best Business Advice I Ever Received: I feel like the important advice for this business, outside of the details of bookkeeping, is really just personal advice, and it’s a version of “never stop putting things in your brain.” Keep learning, thinking and growing. This business is manifested in curiosity about forms and materials and digital tools.
Words of Wisdom to Other Women: I don’t think I’m inclined to give out unsolicited advice, so maybe I’d just say, go for it!
Why I chose this career: It feels to me that “choosing” architecture happened when I learned it described what I was already interested in. I grew up on job sites, carefully entering future front doors on the wood planks the crew laid out over the sunken perimeter, climbing ladders to imagine second floors, and dodging material hoists. When I was older, I proudly delivered material to job sites, sometimes had to sweep up the night before a client came into town, and occasionally I would meet the client—there were so many different decision-making personalities. I could not have known what architecture would really be about then, but I starkly remember a stranger telling me that I would change my mind about the major I had chosen, and I resolved that I would not.
The Secret to Good Business Is: I’m not really sure there are “secrets,” but I’d assert that honesty is a pillar we can all stand on. As far as running the business, a business consultant is pretty helpful. If I’m running into a challenge, chances are someone else has as well, so seeking out some ways others have solved it and then deciding how it can work for me is a tool I use frequently.
You’d Never Guess That: Prior to this, I managed the framing and utility scope of multi-family projects in the mid-Atlantic market, with steel-toe boots on the ground for a robotic off-site panel manufacturer!
Why I love doing Business in Highlands-Cashiers: I love doing business in Highlands-Cashiers because, hands down, there are some of the coolest clients here! I feel lucky and proud to be from Highlands, and it feels like full-circle moments when I get to work on people’s homes here.
Our Business: Gracewear Collection is an inspirational brand of jewelry designed by founder Wendy Lupas and her sister, Mary Blackburn. The signature Shield of Faith design is trademarked and represents Ephesians 6: 10-18, which directs us to put on the Full Armor of God daily. Our boutique in Cashiers features Gracewear, beautiful apparel brands, inspirational gifts and original abstract art.
Best Business Advice I Ever Received: My pastor, Gary Hewins of CBC Highlands, once told me to “Start Small but think BIG.” I have not always heeded this advice as I tend to sometimes do the opposite, but after many trials and errors over the years, I am doing my best to trust God and run Gracewear by this message in the scripture, Zechariah 4:10.
Words of Wisdom to Other Women: Do not be afraid to step outside your comfort zone. There are many resources available to help you along the way. Also, embrace that there is nothing that is “below you” to do in your business—from cleaning the bathrooms to working directly with the customers. Your presence in every area of your business sets the standard for your business culture.
Why I Chose This Career: Gracewear was truly an evolution through a series of life’s trials. After my husband suffered a life-threatening illness, I felt God calling me to share with women the meaning of Grace (unconditional love and forgiveness to bring you freedom). Our business has transitioned in many directions, however, sharing the powerful message of our brand through our jewelry, whether online, wholesale, or in our boutique, is truly the foundation and glue that holds the company together.
The Secret to Good Business Is: Absolutely LOVE what you do! (most days!)
You’d Never Guess That: The Gracewear concept started as a marriage ministry.
Why I Love Doing Business in Highlands-Cashiers: Hands down, I LOVE this community for the people! During COVID, I closed the boutique for a season. I cannot tell you how much I missed our precious and loyal customers! I was called to re-open a much smaller boutique so I could continue to share about Gracewear with both our longtime customers and many new ones!
Jannie Bean Fine Custom Jewelry
My business: I am an “old-fashioned” jeweler with a full-service business, including repair, appraisal, restoration, redesign and new pieces.
Best Business Advice I ever Received: Be a woman of integrity. Work hard. Don’t give up.
Words of Wisdom to Other Women: Be yourself—a beautiful, unique and special person made in God’s image.
Why I chose this career: I was an art and design major in college, and this was a good fit.
The Secret to Good Business Is: Honesty and caring about your customers.
You’d never know that: I’m still doing this after over 40 years! But … when having so much fun, why quit?
Why I Love Doing Business In Highlands-Cashiers: The people are lovely. Very welcoming!
Instragram @ peakexperiencehighlands
Our Business: Peak Experience. A gift shop featuring American handcrafts and antiques. Some of our most popular items are estate jewelry and pottery.
Best Business Advice I Ever Received: I love this quote from Martha Stewart. “When you are through changing, you’re through.” Being able to change and adapt can be difficult, but that is how we move forward in life.
Words of Wisdom to Other Women: My words of wisdom are to remember that no one is perfect. Juggling a career, family and just life can feel overwhelming at times. Do your best and take a little time for yourself.
Why I Chose This career: I like the creativity of retail. I like finding new and different things that customers will appreciate and enjoy in their homes. I look forward to a customer finding the perfect thing that will complement their lives.
The Secret to Good Business Is: Listening to your customer, learning from your mistakes and being organized. I am constantly working on the last one!
You’d never know that: We are coming up on our 25th year of business!
Why I Love Doing Business In Highlands-Cashiers: I love doing business here because of the community—and it’s a beautiful place to live. I enjoy seeing our loyal customers every season and meeting new people all the time.