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February 29, 2024 12 minute READ

The Future is Women's Business

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Barefoot Baby

March is Women’s History Month, and, in celebration, Mast General Store is recognizing women-owned companies whose products we carry.

Women-owned brands found in the Mast Store represent the growing power of female entrepreneurs. These companies and their leaders, missions, and stories showcase a diversity of goods that signify women’s ingenuity, creativity, vision, business savvy, and desire to make the world a better, more equitable place for all people.

These companies also exemplify women’s contributions to and influence on the American economy.

The number of women-owned businesses is on the rise in the United States. A Wells Fargo report released in January 2024 stated, “Women-owned businesses continue to fuel the economy, representing 39.1% of all businesses – over 14 million – employing 12.2 million workers, and generating $2.7 trillion in revenue.”

The same report cited that the growth of new women-owned businesses increased at a rate of 4.5 times from previous year alone.

While those statistics are undeniably impressive, there is still much more room for women-owned businesses in the landscape of our national economy and, notably, more work to be done in terms of championing female entrepreneurialism.

As of last year, the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that 56.1% of women 16 years old and over across the nation participated in the labor force. Despite the rapid recent growth trends cited in the Wells Fargo study, it also pointed out that women-owned businesses account for just 9.2% of the American workforce’s employees and 5.8% of its revenues.

With the majority of women actively working and women-owned business creation climbing, there remains a clear discrepancy between the economic impact of women-owned businesses and that of established companies. How can this difference be resolved?

To put it simply, invest in women. Support the expansion of new women-owned businesses, train more women leaders in the workplace, and encourage more women to pursue business ventures with the backing of fair and equal financing, education, and confidence.

As women-owned businesses grow, so does our national economy. This provides all Americans with more employment opportunities and boosts prosperity amongst all gender, racial, and socio-economic groups in our country. It’s often said that a rising tide lifts all boats, and this tide is a movement of female entrepreneurs.

Women-Owned Brands at Mast

Check out these women-owned brands Mast General Store proudly carries. Some are in every Mast location, while others are local lines found exclusively at the Mast Store nearest their company:

Asheville Tea Co., Barefoot Baby Clothing, and Bella Tunno

Asheville Tea Company – Asheville Tea Company captures the essence of the Blue Ridge Mountains in every cup by using botanicals native to and grown in the Southeastern United States. Its mission to build a shorter, more localized supply chain directly from regional farmers uplifts communities, reduces the global tea industry’s carbon footprint, preserves small, family-owned farms, and allows you to sip the freshest, most delicious tea possible.

Barefoot Baby – Barefoot Baby makes nature-inspired apparel for infants, toddlers, and children. This North Carolina-based company is a true family business, started by a mom who wanted to instill a love of adventure and the outdoors in her own newborn. Barefoot Baby designs and prints realistic images on its super-soft clothing so little ones can be comfortable as they grow their appreciation of the natural world and all its creatures.

Bella Tunno – Tirelessly working to find a solution that ends child hunger is engrained in Bella Tunno’s mission and company culture. “Buy One, Feed One” is the motto of this maker of infant accessories, including sippy cups, bibs, teethers, pacifiers, and much more. Together, this year, through purchases made by Mast General Store, Bella Tunno has provided 1,316 meals to young children across the United States.

Camille and Co., Caro Designs, and Carve DesignsCamille & Company – This female-founded design studio brings together a team of artists and craftspeople who celebrate the long tradition of producing quality, handmade textiles. Conscious of the impact clothing manufacturing has on the earth, Camille & Company is dedicated to a sustainable, thoughtful production process, which minimizes excess by using textiles that have either been sourced and repurposed, block printed, or produced on a handloom from recycled waste fabric.

Caro Designs – Inspired by artisanal beauty and established with “can-do” attitude, Caro Designs founder Caroline Fowler began teaching herself the craft of jewelry-making after being taken aback by a pair of earrings a friend of her sister had made by hand. Following years of practice and metalsmithing classes, she and a friend opened the Caro Designs studio in 2018. Stop by the Greenville Mast Store to find the Caro Designs line of quality gemstones set in mixed metals to unique, modern, eye-catching designs.

Carve Designs – Carve Designs pushes the boundaries of the women’s outdoor apparel industry and proves that fashion can be both functional and well-fitting. Its clothing is designed to be as versatile and inspirational as the women who wear it. Carve lives up to its empowering active, outdoor ethos through its use of organic cotton and other eco-friendly fabrics and production processes that allow 95% of its entire line to be made with recycled, upcycled, or sustainable materials.

Dovetail Workwear, eeBoo, and Essential JourneysDovetail Workwear – Dovetail is the largest exclusively women’s workwear brand in the northern hemispere, and, with that, it makes work apparel designed specifically for women’s bodies. Started by two female landscapers, who experienced the need for comfortable clothing while getting their hands dirty, the company now produces overalls, pants, and accessories. Dovetail also supports groups nationwide that empower women who desire to enter and succeed in traditionally male-dominated occupations.

eeBoo – Makers of educational toys, puzzles, and games for kids and adults, eeBoo nurtures a lifetime of empathy, creativity, and curiosity. Founded by a working mother, who refused to compromise the importance of her family for a career, eeBoo’s roots developed in the fun learning tools she crafted to strengthen her children’s communication skills and develop their sense of creative play. A certified Climate Neutral company, eeBoo uses minimal packaging and plastic components as well as recycled materials and vegetable-based inks.

Essential Journeys – Asheville-based Essential Journeys creates small batch soaps and body care products. Designed specifically for sensitive skin, Essential Journeys’ goods are all-natural and never tested on animals. An avid cyclist and traveler, founder Kimberly Masters gathers inspiration for her company’s scents around the world and at her backdoor which opens to the Blue Ridge Mountains. You can find Essential Journeys at the Mast Stores in Asheville and Hendersonville.

Lizzie's All Natural Products, Oxbow Farms, and Peace, Love, & SoapLizzie’s All-Natural Products – As a person living with eczema, Lizzie Funderburk realized the importance of using skincare and laundry products that are gentle on skin. She made her first batch of detergent in college so she could wash her sheets and sleep easier in her dormroom bed. Today, Lizzie’s All-Natural Products feature lines of vegan, toxic-free, small-batch products for hair, skin, bath, and home use. The Winston-Salem Mast Store proudly carries a variety of items from this local, woman-owned business.

Oxbow Farms – Oxbow Farms features an array of pleasing scents inspired by the North Carolina High Country. Not only is company founder Kendra Sink an excellent soapmaker, but she’s great at running a store, too. Kendra, whose talents and skills are numerous, is the general manager of the Boone Mast Store, where you can find her line of small-batch, cold-processed Oxbow Farms soaps made with various combinations of soothing shea butter, cocoa butter, olive oil, and coconut oil. The Mast Store is thankful for Kendra’s hard work and proudly recognizes her as a woman who takes care of business on the day to day while running her own company from the kitchen of her Boone home.

Peace, Love & Soap – Katie Williams started Peace, Love & Soap with a mother’s love and concern for her youngest son, who lives with eczema. Frustrated with steroid creams and chemical treatments, she sought a natural remedy in the form of handmade skin and body care products. Now, Peace, Love & Soap features soaps, essential oils, healing balms, sugar scrubs, candles, and more. It has also created both a platform and a community for Katie and her family. Find selected Peace, Love & Soap products at the Greenville Mast Store.

Piedmont Pennies, Poppy Handcrafted Popcorn, and Primavera LeathersPiedmont Pennies – Crunchy, oven-baked, cheesy deliciousness served straight from North Carolina, Piedmont Pennies began as an MBA project with a little help from a grandmother’s cheese straw recipe. Inspired by the idea to give tasty yet frugal Christmas gifts, Piedmont Pennies is a year-round gift you’ll find at the Mast Store to treat others or just yourself.

Poppy Hand-Crafted Popcorn – Popcorn is surely a favorite snack for many folks, but Poppy Hand-Crafted Popcorn is especially fun. Featuring flavor profiles that range from classically Southern, like Pecan Pie, to quirky, as you’ll find in the white cheddar-caramel Asheville mix, Poppy is an anytime popcorn party in a bag! We can’t deny, however, that we prefer the Mast Store Provisioners Apple Butter flavor, but we might be biased. Regardless, founder Ginger Frank has proven to her children that with hard work and clear vision, a business can bring joy to people everywhere.

Primavera Leathers – Blowing Rock, North Carolina-based Evenlight Eagles, the artist behind Primavera Leathers, began leathersmithing for her uncle, master blademaker Daniel Winkler, in high school. Crafting sheathes to accompany Winkler’s knives, Eagles honed her expertise of the trade. With the utmost reverence for nature as the source of her art, Eagles creates quality wares with free range, low- and no-chemical, and repurposed leathers and donates a portion of her sales to wildlife conservation. Primavera Leathers’ handmade bracelets are available at Mast General Store.

Rainwater Farms, Raven's Nest, and Shakar JamsRainwater Farm – Collette Souder began making all-natural, homemade soaps in 1992 when the practice was uncommon and relatively unknown. She and her husband had just relocated their family to Maryville in East Tennessee to raise their children after a bustling lifestyle in Washington, D.C. Collette grew the burgeoning business that would become Rainwater Farm slowly by selling soaps at craft fairs, festivals, and markets throughout the region. The company now makes other products like healing salve and bug repellent in addition to its soaps, but all its goods continue to be made in the natural, environmentally-conscious, small-batch tradition Collette began decades ago. Made with East Tennessee pride, Rainwater Farm soaps are found in the Knoxville Mast Store.

Raven’s Nest – When the weather outside is frightful, nothing warms you up quite like steaming hot, mulled cider. Raven’s Nest Mulling Spices invite family and friends to join you in cozy warmth over shared drinks and raised mugs. Conversely, when outdoor temperatures rise, try this aromatic blend in a summer sangria and keep the same sense of hospitality.

Sakhar Jams – Friends Reshma Mahadkar and Jessica Henry bonded over a lifetime love of fresh fruit and became business partners when the opportunity presented itself at the right moment of their careers. Sakhar produces artisanal, small-batch jams made with 100% South Carolina-grown fruits, premium liquors and teas, and ethically sourced ingredients. After gaining a strong following in their hometown of Columbia, Sakhar Spirited Artisanal Jams are gaining in popularity across the Palmetto State from Charleston to Greenville. You can pick up your own Sakhar collection at the Columbia Mast Store.

Swann Creative, SoulKu, and Terrapin Ridge FarmsSwann Creative – Members of 1% for the Planet, Swann Creative Designs gives back 1% of its sales to agencies dedicated to protecting the environment. The creative laser-cuts it produces for businesses, state and national parks, and nonprofit organizations in its Asheville studio serve as great reminders of home, vacations, and priceless memories. A selection of Swann Creative items is available in the Asheville Mast Store.

SoulKu – Handcrafted by moms in Asheville, North Carolina, SoulKu infuses its jewelry with positive energy to celebrate, inspire, connect, and empower women. Semi-precious and luxe gemstones adorn eye-catching bracelets, necklaces, and earrings designed to inspire wearers through specific wishes for inner transformation. Each piece is signed with love by the Mama who made it.

Terrapin Ridge Farms – A lifelong love of entertaining and memories of her mother playing hostess during family holiday parties led Mary O’Donnell to a career in the specialty food industry. She eventually purchased Terrapin Ridge Farms, a small brand with budding potential, and developed it to fit her vision. Terrapin Ridge Farms now includes lines of sauces, dips, jams, dressings, mustards, and more premium condiments. The company’s mission is fulfilled as you entertain your friends and loved ones just as Mary’s mother once did for her own family.

On your next visit to the Mast Store and in your daily shopping, intentionally seek out products made by women-owned businesses. Support female creators, leaders, and entrepreneurs through your consumer choices as well as through your actions and attitude. Women have proven throughout history – and continue to prove each present day – that, when given equal opportunities, they share the wealth and, in turn, grant us all more opportunities for better jobs in a better world.

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