By Gary Dinges
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) About half of the storefronts in Austin’s Second Street District have women calling the shots. Columnist Gary Dinges sits down with several of these successful female entrepreneurs to talk about what it is like to build a company from the ground up.
Woman-owned businesses aren’t as rare as they used to be — and perhaps nowhere is that more evident than in Texas.
American Express says four of the top 10 U.S. cities where female entrepreneurs have the greatest clout — “combining growth in the number, employment and revenues of women-owned businesses” from 2007 to 2016 — are in the Lone Star State.
Austin ranks fifth, tied with Indianapolis. San Antonio, Dallas and Houston are on the list, as well.
But there are still some hurdles to overcome.
In retail — the sector with the highest percentage of woman-owned businesses, according to the National Women’s Business Council — just one in five shops has a female owner.
Downtown’s Second Street District is a prime example of how Austin is bucking that trend. The tony strip of shops, restaurants and service-oriented businesses is peppered with companies built from the ground up by women from a variety of backgrounds.
“Austin ranks high on great places to start a business, yet women-owned businesses are the big story,” said Kevin Johns, director of the city of Austin’s Economic Development Department. “The diversity and longevity of women-owned businesses in the Second Street District is the local proof.”
About half of the storefronts in the decade-old district — two and a half times the national average — have females calling the shots, including merchants such as Milk + Honey Spa, Sikara & Co., Lacquer, Eliza Page, Rae Cosmetics, Hacienda, Prize, Bar Chi and Hemline.