‘Like we birthed our own baby’: East side moms become part of surge in women-owned businesses locally, nationwide

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SHAKER HEIGHTS, Ohio -- Small businesses are the backbone of America, and increasingly that backbone is decisively female.

Here in Ohio, that trend is especially pronounced. Fit Small Business, a leading online resource for small businesses, recently ranked Ohio second on its list of top 10 states for female entrepreneurs.

Tamar Brecher and Robin McCann are among those willing to make the leap. The pair of east side moms opened their boutique, Luster, in the Shaker Heights Van Aken District in December.

"I don't know what made us brave enough, but we are very intrigued by the whole project and the Van Aken District development," said McCann.

No big box stores here; there are, however, 20 women-owned businesses.

"It feels like we birthed our own baby," said Brecher.

And a lot of other women in Ohio are feeling that pull.

Secretary of State Frank LaRose grew up with that entrepreneurial desire in the family. His great-grandfather immigrated from Italy to begin a business in Ohio, and his mother-in-law opened up her own boutique in the Columbus area a decade ago. Now, he runs the office where all new Buckeye State businesses begin.

LaRose stopped by the Van Aken District to meet McCann and Brecher.

"You can tell they really trained themselves and learned all they need to learn to be successful. And you're seeing a lot of other women doing that in Ohio, too, sort of embracing that entrepreneurial spirit and boldly going forward," said LaRose. "It takes an act of bravery to start a business."

Luster is the culmination of two years of hard work; percolating an idea, learning the ropes and choosing the right mentors.

"Everything from  accounting to marketing to web design, we've really tried to surround ourselves by other strong successful women," said McCann.

But the path to this point didn't come without its challenges: bumps that men would not face.

"We had hurdles where we felt like there were times where people talked down to us or said things to us that they wouldn't have said to a man," said McCann. "But, in the end, I think it made us stronger and more determined to open and be successful."

With this endeavor, Brecher and McCann aren't only satisfying a dream, they're serving as a powerful example of what women supporting women can accomplish.

"It is a big deal, and it's amazing and it's amazing that we're here in Ohio and we're starting a business now and we are amongst a lot of other female business owners," said McCann.

Tamar shares that sentiment.

"It feels really good," she said.

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