Written by Miranda Bigham

International Women’s Day is Sunday March 8, 2020

Combining Buffalo Business First’s 2019 rankings of the largest Buffalo-based public companies and the top local private companies includes exactly three female chief executives. Three women. On listings that amass close to 100 of the most successful local businesses and their owners, Melissa Coder, Southside Trailer. Gia Manley, Imagine Staffing. Jennifer Murphy, NetPlus Alliance  had their companies in position to receive a nod.

We talk about how necessary it is to support women, believe women, empower women, but these things hardly just happen. In fact, it’s not enough just to say it, or digitally display it. Money talks. These revenue-based rankings reveal a need for more female representation in for-profit businesses. It’s time to speak on the importance of patronizing woman-owned enterprises in Western New York – and beyond. 

Without more seats at the table for women in local business, we’re missing out. Plain and simple. We’re just a town characterized by FOMO on the diversity and opportunity that we see in other cities, that experiencing more women in business would present to us. Buffalo needs to make a conscious effort to create an economic ecosystem where woman-owned companies are sustainable and profitable business ventures. If we’re really the City of Good Neighbors, everyone – all genders, races, orientations, ethnicities, religions – should be able to access the opportunity in our neighborhood. 

Y tho?

There should be a Buffalo for the girls that grew up here, the girls who may have a “Get-out-of-Dodge” mentality in high school, but who will carefully consider where to plant their roots, should they decide to settle down. There needs to be a Buffalo for the women who come here as Jacobs School MD students, Canisius MBA candidates, and 43North winners. It’s for a simultaneous fear and understanding that these women picking up and taking their talents elsewhere is a loss for us all.

There needs to be a Buffalo for the single mothers and female refugees, those who may extract dreams from their surroundings, for they know it to be a place that embraces a woman’s unbridled strength and ability. And, we need a place for all the lunch-packing, sideline-clapping, late-working moms; places they can go to feel supported, comforted, and understood as they embark on a new phase of life. Because we’re all better for it, when Mom is nearby.

You’re cordially invited to celebrate IWD 2020. 

In search of this Buffalo. It’s not a place we’ve lived in yet, but somewhere we can chisel out of simple consideration for how far the swipe of our credit card goes. Going out of your way to support woman-owned businesses really does make a difference. And here’s how you start. International Women’s Day is Sunday, March 8, 2020. That week, buy something – your morning coffee, evening takeout, an exercise class – from a local business that’s owned by a woman. Do it in honor of a woman who’s been a positive influence in your life. That’s our challenge to you. 

Right here.

Women’s Business Center at Canisius College [website, Twitter] – Rooted in the mission of empowering, educating, engaging, and supporting female entrepreneurs, the WBC provides a number of resources and experiences that professional women need to succeed.

She’s from Buffalo [Instagram, shameless plug, I run this]  – An Instagram account dedicated to identifying woman-owned businesses in Western New York, so visitors and locals alike can become advocates for supporting women. 


View this post on Instagram


wise words from one of our makers @chicory.kin — thank you to all of you who continue to shop mindfully — if you are local, you can find her self-care products in our space. ・・・ Hey hi I wanted to show my face to say THANK YOU. I understand that it can be tough sometimes to spend $15-$40 dollars on something that feels maybe like INDULGENCE even though in reality it is just taking care of your self through a different medium. I thank you for your trust. The older I get the more careful I am about what I buy. Not because I feel broke half the time (I do), but because I know that my money is actual support to something- whether it be a larger company or a small business, it is still energy m o v i n g. I hope to remind you all that when you buy from an independant small business, there is an individual, maybe a bunch- who just fill right up with gratitude and are reminded how important it is sharing what we have to offer. Thank you for your orders♡ Until midnight tonight 25%off everything with code GIVING. Much love, Sarah

A post shared by Her Sanctuary (@hersanctuarybuffalo) on

Her Sanctuary [Instagram]– Idealistically, the first of many female spaces in the area, offering women the camaraderie and inspiration that can only be derived from an establishment created to celebrate feminine energy. 

Go there. 

Community Beer Works [Instagram] – Want to talk about traditionally male-dominated career paths? Look no further than the role of a head brewer. Cue the industry upset provided by Jeannie Alexander, head brewer at CBW. 

Black Sheep Buffalo [Instagram] – The local food scene is a bit of a boys club, too – when it comes to both management and culinary talent. Ellen Gedra does both at this West Side staple. 

Niagara Produce [Instagram] – Am epicenter for those in support of local farmers, small businesses, and female leaders. 

This year, this decade, go out of your way to patronize and promote women-owned businesses in our region.

Featured image – pictured (L to R): Kelly Cultrara, Partner at AP Professionals. Kate Kelleher Raines, Real Estate Broker at Roncroft Realty. DeeAnn DiMeo, local singer/musician. Lindsay Amico, founder of Picture Perfect Mind. Ann Freer-Carroll, owner of Chez Ann Salon. Susan and Ciara Morreale, creators of Her Story + Her Sanctuary

Photographed by Michael LoTempio, courtesy of Her Sanctuary.