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Waldo emerges as hub for women-owned businesses

Hemma Hemma
Posted at 6:01 PM, Mar 25, 2024

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Close to 30 women-owned businesses can be found in the small neighborhood of Waldo in south Kansas City.

Female business owners along Wornall and surrounding streets said there is a feeling of celebration and collaboration rather than competition.

“It’s really like we are a part of this small little club of women business owners, and I don’t even know if we realized that when we first found this space in Waldo,” said Ampersand Studio co-owner Morgan Georgie. “It has been such a welcoming space, and I think it has to do with the fact there are so many other female business owners doing the same thing, living out their same dreams.”

The three businesses KSHB 41's Abby Dodge heard from Monday afternoon were within a three-minute drive of one another. The physical closeness is mimicked in the relationships between business owners.

Ampersand Studio recently collaborated with a candle shop in Brookside, which boosted business for both female entrepreneurs.

“It’s always other female business owners trying to build each other up, in our experience,” said Georgie’s co-owner Carrie Kiefer. “So we have been so lucky.”

VOICE FOR EVERYONE | Share your voice with KSHB 41’s Abby Dodge

Whether buying a shirt from Ampersand or soap down the road at SOAP Refill Station, shoppers will likely see a woman behind the counter.

“It’s like a sleeper attack,” said SOAP Refill Station owner Ann Dezort. “It’s like you wouldn’t even guess it, and I think it just shows the strength of gals. It’s like there’s no difference. We can do it just like anyone else, and here’s proof in Waldo.”

One of the newest additions to the neighborhood is Hemma Hemma, a cafeteria-style restaurant with a bodega and a space for cooking classes.

Owner Ashley Bare said she didn’t know she’d be surrounded by other female businesses until she moved in.

“It’s been an exciting development to know and be aware of it and foster that as well for other business owners,” Bare said.

Georgie, Kiefer, Dezort and Bare offered the following advice for those just starting out:

  • Say yes to everything once so you know what to say no to in the future.
  • Lean on others when you need help or advice.
  • Lead with a human-first approach.