TAMPA, Fla. (FOX 13) - The Bay Area ranks top in the nation for female entrepreneurs, and it’s a status to celebrate on International Women’s Day.
Women who own businesses in St. Petersburg shared with FOX 13 the triumphs and struggles they went through to become successful.
“Here, we try to make it a women’s club. We don’t exclude men, but we have some really hard working women here,” said Leslie Ciccone, the owner of the dessert bar Sway-Reh.
That focus is a priority for Ciccone whose business exists in a male-dominated food industry.
“Normally, women have a much harder time getting funding, and that wasn’t any different for us,” said Ciccone.
On International Women’s Day, the female entrepreneurs in St. Pete shared the challenges they faced to become their own bosses.
“There is really no such thing for a small business owner as maternity leave. I remember being in labor and getting phone calls about something with a business association I was part of,” said Desiree Noisette, the owner of Mermosa, a swimwear boutique and winery in downtown St. Pete.
Now, Noisette has the flexibility to bring her son with her to work. She said she feels connected to the community.
“It feels electric. Having all of us female business owners, women business owners as part of that growth of St. Pete just feels really amazing. We have a tribe here, and I love it,” said Noisette.
That tribe also includes Barbara Eiseman, who has owned and run printing jobs at Minuteman Press in St. Pete for 11 years. Her family gave her the push and emotional support to take the leap.
“The only time I thought I couldn’t do it is when I was leaving to go on a plane to go to the Minuteman school. It was a hard thing,” said Eiseman, who added there are 13 out of 55 Minuteman Press location owned and run by women in Florida. “I said, ‘What happens if I fail?’ Mom said, ‘It’s only money. Don’t worry.’”
Looking back at her journey, Eiseman finds this day pretty special.
“In our country right now, there are more women in more important roles and showing our young women, ‘Hey, you can do anything you put your mind to.’ And I believe if you put your mind to it, you can do it,” said Eiseman.
And that encouraging message is what every boss shared.
“We’ve sat with every staff member that worked today to tell them what it means to us, and to us it is our mission to have women excel,” said Ciccone.
Business.org did a report last year finding Tampa bay tops the nation for women-owned businesses. That report looked at the number of female-run businesses, employment rate, pay gap and more.
The St. Pete entrepreneurs said they take time to invest in their employees’ well-being at work and in their personal lives, and they enjoy seeing all of their hard work paying off.