By Mary Beth Breckenridge The Akron Beacon Journal
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) "Conversations and Co." is a special place where women can get a manicure or a make a business connection, where they can sell their artwork or heal from an emotional trauma.
Women come to Conversations and Co. for more than the jewelry and handbags.
They also come for the empowerment.
The boutique in this restored Victorian house off Tallmadge Circle may look like just another pretty shop, but there's strength behind the beauty. The store is the centerpiece of a wellness center designed to bring women together, improve their physical and emotional well-being and foster their creativity.
Conversations & Co. is a place where women can get a manicure or a make a business connection, where they can sell their artwork or heal from an emotional trauma.
It's a place where women can get a manicure or a make a business connection, where they can sell their artwork or heal from an emotional trauma.
The concept was developed by Jana Tucker and Lisa Williams, who own the business along with their siblings, Julie Machinena, Dirk Breiding and Ryan Breiding.
Tucker said she discovered a talent for developing synergies among people during more than 20 years in a corporate job. In particular, she found a passion for connecting women, and she dreamed of creating a facility where that could happen.
Jana Tucker, part owner at Conversations & Co. says the real gratification of running Conversations & Co. comes from hearing the stories of women who made connections or found inspiration there.
"Yeah, it's great when you sell something," she said, but the real gratification of running Conversations & Co. comes from hearing the stories of women who made connections or found inspiration there.
The shop embodies that commitment in what it sells. Its inventory includes goods by local artists and books by local authors, whose visibility the owners hope to raise.
One of them is Deborah Lynne Keith, a Kent resident who makes handbags and recently branched into wall hangings. She originally dabbled in the craft as a way of making Christmas gifts and discovered that the creative endeavor helped alleviate the effects of her Parkinson's disease.
"Conversations and Company was instrumental, absolutely instrumental, in this whole process," Keith said. A friend introduced her to Tucker and Williams, and she felt an immediate affinity with the women, she said.
Every time she met with them, their enthusiasm and support for her handbag business inspired her.
"It transitioned me into a whole new way of making them," she said. When she thinks about the role they played in her growth as an artist, "I keep thinking of the word kindness over and over."
Maybe nurturing success is built into the home's very framework. The house was the childhood home of Clara Wolcott Driscoll, who designed some of the most famous Tiffany lamps around the turn of the 20th century. Though she wasn't publicly recognized at the time for her work, Driscoll was an adroit businesswoman when few females had leadership roles in the workplace.
The house was constructed around 1878 as the parsonage for the nearby Tallmadge Church and most recently housed a florist shop. Tucker and her siblings moved their business there in 2015, after an extensive renovation.
The boutique occupies the first floor. The second floor houses Evergreen Healing Centers, where practitioners offer such services as skin and nail care, massage, reflexology, yoga, meditation, healing services, hypnotherapy, art therapy, life coaching and grief support.
Clinical hypnotherapist Kelly Brown uses a cozy office on that floor to see clients struggling to overcome traumas such as rape, incest, molestation and addiction.
Brown likes that the building and the tiny office provide the safe environment her clients need. "It's a calm, peaceful, protective place that my clients respond to very well," she said.
A former lawyer, Brown changed careers after witnessing the benefits of hypnotherapy in the combat veterans her firm represented. Those years in the legal field also made her cautious, she said, so she was initially skeptical about the Conversations & Co. setting and the idea of bringing together various healing practitioners.
But Brown said Tucker's honest concern for women won her over. And she appreciates working with other women, an experience she didn't have in her male-dominated law firm.
"Working here has been absolutely wonderful for me," she said. "It's an amazing group of women."