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Flotsam & Co. owner Karen Sawicki poses for a photo in her storefront and work space.

Mar 09, 2016

Female Business Owners Thrive at Ward

It doesn't take more than a quick glance through the shop windows at Ward Village to realize that female entrepreneurs have created a thriving climate for new businesses in this rapidly expanding slice of the city.

Compared to just a few decades ago, it's staggering to see just how far we've come: In the past 20 years, the number of women-owned businesses have grown by more than 54 percent in the United States, totaling well over 8 million ventures. And this month, as we celebrate International Women's Day (a day meant to reflect on the social, economic, cultural and political achievement of women) it's uplifting to hear that more than 30 percent of businesses in this country are currently founded and owned by women.

At Ward Village, these statistics are reflected in the vast variety or female-founded storefronts that encompass our growing neighborhood. One of Ward's latest retail additions, Flotsam & Co., opened their doors in Ward Warehouse just last week. The store's founder, Karen Sawicki, carries an eclectic collection of jewelry and other inspiring items that reflect her passion for design and diving. In fact, many of her pieces she stocks in her charming space are composed of shells she finds while diving. When the opportunity arose to manifest her passion into her own brick and mortar store, Sawicki dove right in. The result was an awe-inspiring feeling that she'll carry with her forever.

"It's hard to describe the feeling of opening the doors at Flotsam and Co. for the first time. It's almost surreal," she says with a chuckle.

I've worked very hard to get to this position, and to see it all come together is a feeling I'll never forget. I feel very proud. If another young woman is interested in starting her own business, my only advice would be to do your homework, be passionate about your product and merchandise, and be prepared to work really hard.

While Sawicki's Flotsam and Co. is new to the neighborhood, she joins a lengthy list of other female-founded businesses in Ward that have been operating for years, including Jayne Lee, who founded and owns both Dolce and Hopscotch boutiques in Ward Centre and Jackie Chang, who started the popular children's boutique Taj Clubhouse, just to name a few.

Five years ago, Tiare Teiti launched in Ward Warehouse under the ownership of Ida Teite. The storefront, which stocks a vibrant mix of Tahitian pareos, skirts, dresses, and other sunny items, didn't come without countless hours of hard work, sweat, and determination.

"When I first opened Tiare Teite, I knew it was going to be a lot of work, but it's all been worth it. I think it's great to hear that there are so many women opening up new businesses," said Teite. "It's a fantastic feeling to see a customer's face light up when she tries on one of my pareos. But to get that point took a lot of sweat and work. However, if you can find a niche in the market or bring something new to Hawaii and aren't afraid of working hard to see it through, owning your own business can be more than just a dream."

Whether it's a small storefront in an upcoming borough of New York City or right here in Honolulu's Ward Village, there's never been a better time for a woman to start a new business. Today, women are employing millions of workers and injecting more than a trillion dollars into the economy every year. Since the late 1990s, the revenue generated by women-owned businesses has grown by nearly 80 percent. And while these facts are warming, there's still a long way to go on the road to gender equality for entrepreneurs. But if we can expand on our current pace, we'll be well on our way to not only strengthening the country's workforce and economy, but reshaping our collective perception of the modern entrepreneur. Because if there's one thing we've seen, it's that women of today mean business. Literally.

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This is not intended to be an offer to sell in any jurisdiction where prohibited by law. Ward Village is a proposed master planned development in Honolulu, Hawaii that does not yet exist. Exclusive Project Broker Ward Village Properties, LLC. Copyright 2020. Equal Housing Opportunity. Exclusive Project Broker for Ke Kilohana - Locations LLC. Copyright 2020. Equal Housing Opportunity.

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