Supporting female-owned businesses isn’t just a novel concept; it’s an investment in women’s economic empowerment and gender equality. In 1972, women owned just 4.6 percent of companies, but today there are at least 12.9 million women-owned businesses in the U.S., representing a 42 percent overall share.
In Indianapolis, several of the city’s finest female bosses have set up shop downtown on a five-block stretch of Massachusetts Avenue. You can easily spend the day walking up and down the street, popping into different businesses and visiting the hard-working women who make the area so interesting and successful.
If you’re so inclined (and you should be), here are some of our favorite spots:
In business for seven years, Felicia Kiesel chose the name Boomerang for her boutique because “style always comes back around.” The store stocks an eclectic mix of clothing, jewelry and home décor: “I carry over 70 handmade and local artists, as well as other companies and designers from around the world, all of whom I’ve traveled to meet and get to know. From pop culture magnets and prints, locally made string art in the shape of the Indy skyline, banana earrings and more, there is something quirky and unique for everyone.”
845 Massachusetts Avenue, Suite B, (317) 966-7373, BoomerangBTQ.com
City Dogs Grocery
“Being a woman-owned business is both rewarding and empowering, and I am blessed to have had the opportunity to follow my heart and passion,” says Christi Rider, owner of City Dogs Grocery. At the shop you’ll find all natural, holistic dog and cat food, supplements and accessories, as well as freshly baked pet treats from two local bakers. “Our priority is to provide one-on-one customer service, along with the best products that will help your pet live a happy and healthy life,” Rider says.
884 Massachusetts Avenue, (317) 635-2287, CityDogsGrocery.com
Give your house or apartment a dose of hip, inviting style with a purchase from Decorate, a home décor shop opened in 2016 by Amy Minick Peterson (who also happens to be married to former Indy mayor Bart Peterson). Whether you’re looking for the perfect pillow, a standout mirror, or a whimsical entertaining essential, you’ll be happy you visited.
716 Massachusetts Avenue, (317) 737-2109, DecorateIndy.com
The Flying Cupcake
A pioneer on the sweet treat scene, The Flying Cupcake was touted as Indiana’s first cupcake bakery when its initial store opened on Illinois Street in 2007. There are now several locations—including this one on the 400 block of Mass Ave that arrived in 2010—and two mobile food trucks, all owned by mom-of-three Kate Bova Drury. If you stop in, you’ll find scrumptious offerings with names like “Fat Elvis,” “What’s Up Doc?” and “Mint for Each Other,” as well as gluten-free and vegan options.
423 Massachusetts Avenue, (317) 396-2696, TheFlyingCupcakeBakery.com
Global Gifts is a non-profit organization, so the store doesn’t have an owner in the traditional sense, but the entity’s Executive Director is Alissa Head, and the Mass Ave boutique—there are three other locations—is managed by Dianna Norris. Showcasing everything from hand-carved figurines to intricate jewelry and felt birdhouses, the shop features ethically produced, fair trade products that have been sourced from over 40 countries.
446 Massachusetts Avenue, (317) 423-3148, GlobalGiftsft.com
Homespun: Modern Handmade
Homespun: Modern Handmade is a retail boutique, gallery space and workshop classroom primarily dedicated to handmade goods. Its owner, Amanda Mauer Taflinger, founded the shop in Irvington in 2010 and then moved it to its current space in 2014. Amanda says a shopper can expect to find “everything from screen-printed t-shirts to jewelry, bath and body care to art prints, small-batch food and beverage to plush creatures, ceramic mugs, greeting cards and so much more.”
Thinking of starting your own business? “I’d say anyone planning to go into business for themselves needs to have a healthy dose of determination behind them, and a bit of a tendency to disregard naysayers, even when what they are saying may be logical. Sometimes you have to buck the logic and forge ahead,” Taflinger advises.
869 Massachusetts Avenue, (317) 351-0280, HomespunIndy.com
Beer and board games? Yes, please. With a library of over 400 titles and a trained staff of “board game sommeliers” to show you the ropes, you can easily spend an evening sipping brews and playing games at Malika Jacobs and Rebekah Sherman’s Kingmakers.
881 Massachusetts Avenue, (317) 643-0785, KingmakersFun.com
Mass Ave Wine Shop
Not only an excellent place to buy vino, Mass Ave Wine is also a tasting room and café with a well-edited menu of pizzas, small plates, sandwiches and salads. If you need assistance selecting a bottle, you’ll receive expert help from Lisa Cunningham, who is the store’s manager and a jack-of-all-trades—as well as the owner of a large percentage of the business.
“Women entrepreneurs are uniquely qualified to foster and grow a strong sense of community,” Cunningham says about her experience as a female business owner. “Mass Ave Wine Shop has created a space where friends can gather and new experiences can be found,” she says, adding, “We take pride in products that over-deliver for the price and approach our business with joy, patience and passion.”
878 Massachusetts Avenue, (317) 972-7966, MassAveWine.com
Mimosa and a Masterpiece
Owned by Tajuana Hill, a certified life coach and motivational speaker, Mimosa and a Masterpiece is an “upscale paint and sip art studio” where you and your friends can relax together over a painting lesson and a bevvy or two. Hill says: “At Mimosa and a Masterpiece, we take you back to the childhood age of 8, when you were open to doing things you’d never done before. You choose your color palette, we throw in a groovy playlist and you leave feeling like Pablo Picasso who just created an original masterpiece.”
Since opening her business eight years ago, Hill has gained a lot of valuable wisdom that she is willing to share with other women that are thinking of starting a business. Two of her brilliant tips are to “Begin before you’re ready because it won’t be perfect anyway,” and “Don’t expect others to invest in your dream if you don’t.”
614 Massachusetts Avenue, Suite B, (317) 413-8490, Mimosa-Masterpiece.com
MoXie on Mass
Located in The Argyle, a historic building on the 600 block of Mass Ave, this bustling hair and nail salon is owned by Tracy Brown, who’s a whiz with the scissors.
610 Massachusetts Avenue, (317) 266-8787, Facebook.com/MoxieOnMass
Nurture Baby & Child
Originally founded by another boss lady on this list, Kristen Kohn of Silver in the City, the Nurture boutique is now owned by Mystica O’Connor and Adriana Zeljkovic. Stop in for unique clothing and gift finds for babies and children; you will not leave empty handed.
433 Massachusetts Avenue, (317) 423-1234, NurtureOnline.com
Opened in 2013 by Steffanie Peabody Boram, Peabody’s Parlor is a groundbreaking salon that schedules appointments based on length of hair and service time, not gender identity. “Our gender-less services include haircuts, color, extensions, smoothing treatments and more,” Steffanie says. “When I envisioned the opening of Peabody’s Parlor, I knew I wanted to create a salon where everyone felt welcome. It is important to me that no matter who you are—the color of your skin, how you identify, your gender—when you are in our house you will always feel comfortable and seen.”
Steffanie offers this wisdom to women thinking of starting their own business: “Small business ownership can be a lonely place, so my advice is to create the strongest support network you can. Become very clear on who you are, what your values are, and then only allow people into your circle that align with your values. When challenges inevitably arise, you’ll have a strong support system in place.”
873 Massachusetts Avenue, (317) 602-8061, PeabodysParlor.com
Jessica Hamm is the owner of this chic, well-edited boutique, and her keen eye translates to modern-yet-timeless pieces that are easy to wear and effortlessly stylish.
431 Massachusetts Avenue, (317) 423-2919
Silver in the City
If you’re searching for a unique gift and can’t find it at Silver in the City—you haven’t looked hard enough. Filled to the brim with handmade jewelry, quirky housewares and things you didn’t even know were must-haves until you discovered them here, this downtown shopping destination was opened in 2000 by “Head Honcho” Kristin Kohn.
434 Massachusetts Avenue, (317) 955-9925, SilverintheCity.com
Independently owned and operated by Amy Watt since 2002, this is the place to order wow-worthy flowers. Every bloom that comes into the shop is hand selected for freshness and quality, and all arrangements are custom made to order. If you pop in, you might be lucky enough to be greeted by Amy’s cat MAC—which is short for “Mass Ave Cat.”
615 Massachusetts Avenue, (317) 637-6839, WattsBlooming.com
Stephanie Groves is an Indy-based Freelance writer who spent a fantastic Thursday walking around Mass Ave meeting inspiring women and researching this story.