Businesswomen in the River Wards
In celebration of March as Women’s History Month, and March 8 as International Women’s Day, we present in this special advertising section just a few of the hard-working women who own or operate local restaurants, schools or other businesses in your neighborhoods. See our image gallery at right for photos.
Kathleen Treude-Vaughan, owner of Fishtown Jewelers, 1617 Frankford Ave., (215) 634-3277.
When Kathleen Treude-Vaughan purchased Fishtown Jewelers eight years ago, she said it was because she loved the area — plus, she lives there.
“I love this changing neighborhood,” she said of Fishtown, “I like the feel.”
Treude-Vaughan said the world of jewelry is largely a man’s business, but women bring a needed “something different” to the conversation.
“I’m constantly talking woman-to-woman,” she said. “I love every day, working for myself. I think it’s great, the strength that comes with it.”
She said Fishtown Jewelers does many estate sales of vintage-style jewelry and jewelry repairs, and locals know of the business largely through word-of-mouth.
She thinks “that little bit of extra, that presentation,” is important for her jewelry business, and she’s very proud of what she’s established in the neighborhood.
“No matter if I make it or don’t make it, I’m so glad I did it, that I took the challenge,” she said. ••
Sophie Zalewski, owner of Donna’s Bar, 2732 E. Allegheny Ave., (215) 426-7618.
Sophie Zalewski said she believes strong women build strong women, and she should know.
“My mother made me who I am,” she said as she sat inside Donna’s Bar, which was once owned and operated by her mother.
Sophie bought the bar in 1995 and made it her own.
“This is a small neighborhood bar,” she said, “But I worked for it.”
Zalewski said she feel’s she’s earned the respect of her customers and is proud of the business she’s created, which is favored among locals and boasts what many say are the best pierogies in town.
Zalewski uses some of the recipes her mother taught her, but she’s also added her own things to the menu.
One day, she said, she might open her own restaurant independent from the bar.
For now, she said, she tries to make the bar a fun place to be — the walls are decorated with dozens of pictures of people singing and dancing at the bar’s Friday night karaoke parties. Of the crowd at Donna’s, Zalewski said, “They feel like it’s a family.” ••
Jane Lockhart, principal of Mother of Divine Grace School, 2612 E. Monmouth St., (215) 426-7325.
Jane Lockhart began her career at the Port Richmond Catholic school in a truly unique way — her first day at MDG was September 11, 2001, and she was the youngest principal in the diocese when she was first hired at age 31.
And for someone who said she never saw herself as a principal, she’s worked hard since that very first whirlwind day to become the best she can be.
Now on her 20th year in education, she said the best part is seeing “her kids” grow up to be productive members of the community.
“They’re always my kids,” she said. “My days with them are never the same, never boring.”
She said she also works with an “awesome” staff. “I wouldn’t be the educator I am if it wasn’t for them,” she said.
Next for MDG, she said, she’d love to see a computer on the desk of every child. Tearing up, Lockhart said she would love to stay at MDG forever.
“I couldn’t imagine my life doing anything else,” she said. “I always say we’re family. The kids keep me young.” ••
Colleen McCullough-Trout, co-owner of M.D. Roofing & Siding, 3013 Livingston St., (215) 423-8425.
A lifelong resident of Port Richmond, Colleen McCullough-Trout gets to keep her business in the family — she works alongside her father at M.D. Roofing & Siding, a certified women’s business enterprise.
McCullough-Trout starting working at the business in high school, and eventually decided to stick with it.
“I’m definitely in a unique position, owning a construction business,” she said. “Every day is a challenge, but it’s always fun.”
McCullough-Trout said she was initially a bit hesitant about taking the lead position in a business that’s part of a male-dominated industry, but now, she “feels as though I’m actually pretty accepted as a woman.”
She said she’s most proud of the fact that M.D. Roofing and Siding has made it through some of the economic hardships other similar business have not.
“Things were hard for awhile, but we’re seeing the light at the end of the tunnel,” she said. “I set goals, and I hit them.” To set up an appointment, call the shop and leave a message. ••
Irena Smolij, owner of Casbah Caterers, 3461-65 E. Thompson St., (215) 425-0163.
When Polish immigrant Irena Smolij purchased the building that’s now Casbah Caterers almost 33 years ago, she said the biggest challenge was that she was a woman, and people didn’t believe she would succeed.
“It was depressing,” she said. Now, though, decades later, she’s shown them — she owns properties around the city, and has successfully managed along with her family members the Port Richmond catering business.
“I always had a business sense,” she said. “I love talking to people.” She said her favorite events are weddings.
“I don’t know how many weddings, but I always cry,” she said with a laugh.
Smolij said she hasn’t raised her prices in 10 years, which is a challenge, but it’s worth it to keep her customers happy.
“I love it even when they come in to talk and book the party,” she said. Casbah caters for all occasions, and Smolij herself still cooks for events and keeps busy helping guests get the most from their celebrations.
“I’ll be 70,” Smolij said, “And I don’t want to retire.” ••
Cathy Craven, owner of Jim’s Meat Market, 2329 E. Clearfield St., (215) 634-2646.
Born and raised in Port Richmond, Cathy Craven always enjoyed the quality meats offered at Jim’s — so much so that she said that’s exactly why she bought the market almost 10 years ago when it was up for sale by previous owner Jim Dennings.
“He made me an offer I couldn’t refuse,” Craven said of Dennings, who still works many hours at the market, even in his retirement.
Craven said she knows lots of fellow women in business in the neighborhood, and strives to stay competitive.
She knows the restaurant world, too — she and her brother were partners in owning Johnny B’s Place on Allegheny Avenue.
Craven said she’s still dedicated to offering quality meats along with other grocery items, because she’s used to the quality offered at Jim’s.
“Our motto is ‘enter as strangers, leave as friends,’” she said. “I cherish the customers I have,” she said. “They’re good to me.” ••
Mindi Martina, owner of G-Team Raching Motorcycles, 2645 Belgrade St., (215) 739-5847.
G-Team Racing, still known sometimes as Gino’s Cycles, has been in business since 1947. In the so-called “boys club” of motorcycles, Mindy Martina purchased the shop in 2004 from Gene “Gino” Kradzinski (who is still active in the shop), and said she was embraced in the cycle world with open arms.
Martina said she gets calls where the caller will ask to speak to the owner, and will be taken by surprise when her voice assures them, “You can talk to me, I’m the owner.”
She said she even heard from a customer that she’d been known by a not-so-nice name around the cycle world. Does it bother her? Not for a second.
“It makes me feel that although it is woman-owned, I’m not some frail little thing, I’m the tough motorcycle girl.”
Don’t get it twisted, though — Martina is nothing but kind and supportive of her community.
G-Team is working on partnering with the Portside Arts Center for a motorcycle training course, and has mentoring programs for two El Centro High School students interested in the technical side of the business.
Martina said she’s most proud of securing G-Team as an authorized dealer and service center for GoPed,VelorexUSA and BAJA Motorsports. Visit ginoscycles.com and check out the links to the shop’s Facebook and Twitter pages. ••