Every year in March, we celebrate the achievements of all women, from those who make strides across the world to the women here on the North Fork who form the backbone of our community.
In honor of Women’s History Month, we spoke to several business owners at the Shoppes at East Wind, where female entrepreneurship runs strong. Out of the 28 shops in the quaint walking village, 11 of them are women-owned businesses.
“Almost half of our small businesses at The Shoppes are successful female entrepreneurs,” said Charlotte Coté, Director of Marketing at The Shoppes. “We encourage the community to shop small businesses and get to know these friends in their community.”
To spotlight these female-owned businesses, we asked several business owners to talk about the businesses that they’ve created and offer insights for other women looking to build their careers on the North Fork.
Q: Tell us a little bit about your business.
A: The Cheese and Spice Market is a local cheese shop and gourmet market. We carry imported and local cheeses and meats, flavorful herbs, loose spices and teas, and the finest of gourmet products. — Patricia Kaczmarczyk, owner of the Cheese and Spice Market
A: North Fork Craft Gallery was launched in 2016 with the goal of providing artisans with a retail outlet to sell their handcrafted goods. The gallery represents local Long Island craft artists, American Craft Artists and Fair Trade Artisans from developing nations. We are proud to offer a uniquely curated selection of handmade goods for all your gift needs. — Lyn Cooperman, Owner of North Fork Craft Gallery
A: Bella Anima Parties is a custom “bring your vision to life” birthday party shop. We love to take your dream and make it a reality. As moms, we know that time is precious and party planning is stressful. We are here to make your child’s dream come true while you enjoy the moment. — Jenna Aiello and Sommer Spagnolo, co-owners of Bella Anima Parties
A: Island Farmhouse is a small shop filled with hand-picked home decor and all one-of-a-kind hand-finished furniture pieces with a farmhouse feel. We also carry furniture pieces and accessories from all local artisans that share the same vision as us. — Kim Gillin, Linda Vernillo and Jackie Rockowitz, owners of Island Farmhouse
Q: What is it like to be a female entrepreneur on the North Fork?
A: I worked in the restaurant business for many years prior to opening my own shop, and I have come to love and appreciate using good local products. It is exciting as a woman to have my own business where I can share my knowledge and passion for good food and products. — Patricia Kaczmarczyk, owner of the Cheese and Spice Market
A: It’s been very rewarding to operate a successful business in a community that supports women. I’m especially proud to be a female entrepreneur surrounded by other successful woman that run businesses at the Shoppes at East Wind. — Lyn Cooperman, owner of North Fork Craft Gallery
A: Being a newly established business owner can be difficult no matter where you are, but we have been fortunate that the North Fork has been very warm, welcoming and very supportive. — Kim Gillin, Linda Vernillo and Jackie Rockowitz, owners of Island Farmhouse
A: The North Fork is so beautiful, and we love exploring all of its charm. We knew we wanted to establish a shop at the gateway of the North Fork and The Shoppes at East Wind was the perfect fit. The Shoppes at East Wind is like a small village, filled with restaurants, gourmet food shops, retail shops and a stunning carousel. There is something for everyone on the North Fork and we feel so motivated and excited to grow our business in such an incredible location. — Jenna Aiello and Sommer Spagnolo, co-owners of Bella Anima Parties
Q: What advice would you give to other women who are looking to build their careers?
A: Believe in yourself, stay strong and do it! — Patricia Kaczmarczyk, owner of the Cheese and Spice Market
A: Choose a career that you have passion for, work hard, volunteer to do more, believe in your ability and don’t be afraid to take risks. — Lyn Cooperman, owner of North Fork Craft Gallery
A: People are going to try to get you to question yourself and maybe give up. But if you have done your due diligence and you are willing to work hard, then chances are you will be successful. You never want to get to a point in your life and say “why didn’t I try”. Lastly, remember to carve out time for your family and yourself. Most of all, be proud of yourself. — Jenna Aiello and Sommer Spagnolo, co-owners of Bella Anima Parties
A: Stay focused on your dream and don’t lose sight of why you wanted to start. — Kim Gillin, Linda Vernillo and Jackie Rockowitz, owners of Island Farmhouse
Q: What does Women’s History Month represent to you?
A: To me, Women’s History Month is a time to celebrate the strength and talent that women have, to stand up for what they believe in and to help their communities. — Patricia Kaczmarczyk, owner of the Cheese and Spice Market
A: Women’s History Month is a reminder for me to reflect on the women leaders and pioneers who worked tirelessly to ensure women are recognized and afforded the opportunity to excel in whatever field they choose. — Lyn Cooperman, owner of North Fork Craft Gallery
A: It’s very important to us. We are thankful for the women in the past who stepped forward and fought for our equal rights and opportunities to establish our own businesses. We are two moms with six children between us, blessed with daughters and sons. We have been stay-at-home moms and are incredibly thankful for that opportunity. But we also wanted to show our children that whether life is busy, or full of challenges you should be brave, strong and persevere to reach your goals. We explored and planned every aspect of our idea and eventually, we were confident enough to establish our new business. We believe we are not only examples for our children but for other women who may be afraid to make their dreams a reality. — Jenna Aiello and Sommer Spagnolo, co-owners of Bella Anima Parties
A: Women’s History Month is a time to celebrate and recognize the accomplishments, contributions, and struggles of women throughout history. To me, it is a reminder of how far we have come as a society and a celebration of the progress that has been made for women’s rights. — Kim Gillin, Linda Vernillo and Jackie Rockowitz, owners of Island Farmhouse
Q: Who is a female role model that inspires you?
A: There are many women entrepreneurs in our local area who are hard-working, creative and amazing. I love how Denise Andrews and her daughter Rose, from Andrews Farm, work together as a family to promote and run their farm. — Patricia Kaczmarczyk, owner of the Cheese and Spice Market
A: I’ve always been inspired by my mother who went back to school in her thirties, earned her undergrad and master’s degrees and started a successful career in the private school sector while raising two daughters who grew up to be successful entrepreneurs in their own right. — Lyn Cooperman, owner of North Fork Craft Gallery
A: Laryon Perri-Onwu, who is an aunt, good friend, and was diagnosed with breast cancer at a young age and lost her battle in 2015. She never had any children but enjoyed throwing lavish parties for her nieces and nephews. She always felt the need to make every memory a magical one and every party special for her family. Her example of hosting unforgettable parties inspired us to bring this idea to others. Unfortunately, her life was cut short, but we believe what we are doing makes her legacy live on. — Jenna Aiello and Sommer Spagnolo, co-owners of Bella Anima Parties
A: We all agreed that our mothers inspired us to work hard follow our dreams and never give up on what we believe in. — Kim Gillin, Linda Vernillo and Jackie Rockowitz, owners of Island Farmhouse