Women in the Lead

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    Web Site for Fashion-Forward Female Golfers

    Golf-Chic Boutique’s tagline is “for girls who like to hit the greens.” And Beth Underhill is one of them.

    Underhill’s love of golf began by taking lessons after a few dates with her husband. She realized she had the knack for it, and soon joined golf leagues and entered tournaments. Formerly the owner of Piacere Catering for five years, Underhill decided to translate her golfing passion into a new line of work.

    Golf-Chic Boutique, based in Cincinnati, was founded with the premise that women lead busy lives, but still want to look fashionable as they transition between the greens and meetings, children’s events and the 19th hole.

    Fashionably challenged due to her height of 4’11”, Underhill spent her teenage years earning extra money through modeling, hoping to someday be a part of the fashion industry.

    She found golfing to be a fashion challenge as well: “I discovered how difficult it was find apparel – and accessories – that would be fun to wear for golf or play,” Underhill says. “So now I carry several lines not available elsewhere in Ohio.”

    Underhill’s business is primarily Web-based, but she also plans for trunk shows and one-on-one consultations. And the flexibility offered by owning a retail site allows her the freedom to care for her young daughter and still hit the occasional greens.

    As with her catering business, Underhill knows success will come if she follows her passion. She enjoys the freedom in making her own decisions and taking her concept in whatever direction she wants to go. “If I eventually want to open a retail site, I can.” Lastly, she says, “I’m willing to learn from my mistakes, I like that challenge.”

    For more information, visit www.golfchicboutique.com, call Golf-Chic Boutique at 1-866-913-CHIC or e-mail golfchic@fuse.net.

    Wine, Women and Wisdom

    The women of Tino Vino Vintners want their clientele to drink what they like. Jennifer Fairbanks, Lindsay Valentino, Michelle Banks and Annie McManus formed Tino Vino Vintners over a year ago to offer Cincinnatians the opportunity to do just that.

    Tino Vino began with a group of young women sitting around a table sipping wine. Two were working in the restaurant/lounge business, one had a career in property management and the fourth had her own PR firm. Valentino surprised the other women by mentioning she had learned how to make wine from her father and grandfather. As the night progressed, so did the idea to come together and share their passion for wine, thus Tino Vino was uncorked.

    The business model was to cater to clients who want to create custom wines in state-of-the art facilities and in four to six weeks, label and taste their venture. Beforehand, clients can taste ten or twelve of the varietals of wine to decide which wine to create. To round out the business, Tino Vino is also open as a wine bar and distributes its own label.

    The women of Tino Vino aim to keep customers from getting intimidated by the wine; if a customer doesn’t like a wine, they’re more than happy to provide the customer with another.

    That desire to educate customers stems directly from their own passion. They jumped into this business and spent personal time and money to travel to Napa and Sonoma microwineries to absorb their processes and best practices and apply that to the Tino Vino operation.

    Fairbanks says communication challenges mostly trip them up when trying to work together, but she and the others are committed to trusting in the other person’s area of expertise. They work so many odd hours that business meetings tend to happen at 9 p.m. usually over wine. Given that workload, Fairbanks says, “We are at the perfect point in our lives to make this happen. If we wait, we may procrastinate”

    But they are not waiting to develop credibility within the industry. They rely on training and education and the inclusion of their winemaker, the sole employee, in every meeting and decision.

    “We can run our business how we want. We don’t fear what we tell our employee, she is the face of the company,” she says.

    That open-mindedness has been a key ingredient in their start-up, as well as mental fortitude. “We have all worked in businesses which require long hours, so we know how much time needs to be put in,” Fairbanks says.

    Tino Vino Vintners, 3775 Erie Ave. Visit www.tinovino.com or call 871.VINO for more information.


    A Bookstore Owner Gives Back

    After a career as an English teacher and bookstore owner, Cary Boswell had an opportunity to buy into The Bookshelf, a bookstore in Madeira which had been women-owned and operated since 1975. As each owner moved on, a new partner would be approved. Cary became a new partner in 1991.

    Over time, she was joined by three other women, Betsy Schram, Mary Anne Stenger and Chris Weber. Aware of their customer’s reading preferences, the store’s inventory focuses on children’s books and literary fiction.

    “But I like getting the right books to the right people,” Boswell says.

    Like other independent bookstores, the owners are leery of their larger competitors because customers are price conscious. Luckily, years ago, The Bookshelf had already begun a program where it takes its business into the schools for book fairs and supplemental reading.

    “It’s quite time-consuming, all the setup, but well worth it,” Boswell says. This venture allows the store to produce a revenue stream which larger chains don’t pursue.

    The other challenge faced by The Bookshelf, or any other bookstore, is that authors come and go, but customers stay.

    “I like the challenge of always adjusting to people’s likes and dislikes,” Boswell says.

    As for the collaboration between four women, each has developed her area of expertise. Boswell, for example, focuses on accounts payable, bills, etc. The store operates during daytime hours because Madeira is a daytime shopping destination. Though the owners have attempted extended hours around holidays, on Sundays the store remains closed for each one to pursue religious or familial obligations.

    Boswell’s community involvement can be traced to a program started 13 years ago called Book Angels. During the holidays, The Bookshelf identifies inner city schools where children don’t own many books. Customers of The Bookshelf make donations or purchase books to match up with a list of students from those schools. Teachers then use this as a writing exercise.

    “Some of the thanks yous we receive are amazing. Children bring the books back after vacation because they’re afraid to leave the books behind,” Boswell says. She considers this the ultimate in job satisfaction.

    The Bookshelf, 7754 Camargo Rd, 271-9140. E-mail: bookshelf@fuse.net.

    On a Mission

    Kim Koss founded The Believer Products Company, L.L.C., which now has a trademarked line of Christian hand-assembled prayer jewelry known as "Believer Beads."

    Koss says her goal is to produce quality Christian products that are hand-assembled here in South Central Ohio. "We could make them cheaper elsewhere, but there's something special about having them be handmade here locally by someone that understands the meaning of each bead," she explains.

    Koss works with disabled groups and facilities that serve the disabled for the packaging and manufacturing of Believer Beads. "It's about fostering hope," she says. "It's a fun project to learn the skills needed for this process."

    Selling everything from bracelets and earrings to gift boxes and zipper charms at trade shows, craft fairs, church functions, via phone at 1-866-530-2388 and her Web site, Koss hopes to one day expand her home-grown company across the nation.

    Photo: Neysa Ruhl Photography