words by Noor Hindi, photos by Shane Wynn
Superheroes don’t always look like Wonder Woman. Most of the time, they look more like Denise Debo of Saint Augustine & Suds, or Beth Stropki Knorr of Popsmith. They’re badass women entrepreneurs, and Wesley Ian, founder of Akron Honey Company, is on a mission to celebrate their work and give them the credit they’ve long deserved.
“I want to really shine a light on certain groups who maybe don’t get recognized enough for their unique contributions in the marketplace,” says Wesley.
Inspired by his daughters Caedance and Bella, Wesley has created Women’s Market Day, which will take place Sunday, August 27 from 1-5 pm at 1045 Jefferson Ave. At Women’s Market Day, women entrepreneurs and their small businesses will be showcased.
Wesley is hoping this family-friendly event will encourage young women to be entrepreneurs when they grow up.
“People will never aspire to be what they don’t believe is possible,” says Wesley. “In order for girls to grow up and have a better chance at aspiring to be epic, there has to be role models that give them something to jump for.”
All of the small businesses that have been invited to the open-air market are owned and led by women. One of those women, Randi Hodge, says this event is important to her because women entrepreneurs face unique challenges.
She owns Goods, which sells completely natural products for hair and skin.
“I think expectations for women are unreasonable,” says Randi. “I think women are supposed to be smiley and friendly and outgoing and some of those expectations aren’t always authentic to who people are.”
Denise Debo finds that it’s also difficult for women entrepreneurs to be taken seriously. She’s been making all natural soaps for about five years, but says people initially looked at her idea as a hobby rather than a small business.
“I think that it shocked a lot of people that were close to me,” says Denise. “They just didn’t think I’d take it this far. I think they thought this was just a little passion project that I wasn’t going to stick with.”
Women’s Market Day is what Wesley likes to call an “open-air social market.” It’s a way for people to shop small businesses and be social with one another.
Denise loves the idea.
“I get very motivated when I see other women out there doing their thing,” says Denise. “The community really supports one another.”
Meet Denise, Randi and Wesley at Women’s Market Day this upcoming Sunday. The Pierogi Lady (Autumn Johnston), Square Scullery (Heather Ulichney), Miss Julie’s Kitchen (Julie Costell) and others will also be there.
For more information, visit Facebook.com/AkronHoney.
Noor Hindi is currently pursuing her MFA in poetry at The University of Akron. She is usually very nervous. Check her out at nervouspoodlepoetry.com.