Women-Owned Businesses in Jackson

Jackson has a long history of women who've made monumental differences in Mississippi and beyond, from authors and artists to doctors and teachers.

Today, we're highlighting three women spearheading their businesses in the City With Soul and championing diversity and creativity in the workplace.

Juliet Smith, owner of Lavish Boutique in Downtown Jackson
Credit: Drew Dempsey/The Tell Agency

Lavish Boutique, Downtown Jackson

Juliet Smith, owner and founder of Lavish Boutique, has always been a go-getter. She's also continuously gravitated towards businesses that inspire confidence in women.

Lavish first started inside Juliet's salon over seven years ago, when she was acting as a full-time cosmetologist. After noticing her outfits while she did hair, customers would ask if she'd be willing to work as their stylist.

"They'd be like, 'Hey, would you help me go to the mall and find this, that, and the other,'" Juliet says. "So I thought, 'Well, if I'm going to do styling, and I'm taking people shopping and helping them spend money, why don't I just be the supply and demand?' And that's where it kicked off, and one opportunity led to another to learn the industry of selling clothing."

One of her favorite memories is her store's grand opening on S. Lamar Street in downtown Jackson, where women were able to come together, have a good time, and encourage one another. After seeing how male-dominated her industry can be, Juliet has since gone full force at both Lavish's brick-and-mortar location and on social media to prove that women can hustle hard and be fashion-forward at the same time.

Her advice for ladies looking to get into the business? Do your research.

"Just because you see someone else prosper, you don't know what all they have been through to get there. You don't know all of the money they have spent," Juliet says. "Once you do that, then I would get a mentor. I didn't have one in the beginning, and I feel like I would've made better decisions initially with someone who knew the industry. Also, invest in the quality of your product. If you have those three things and a love and passion for it, you will succeed."

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Kristy Buchanan, co-owner of The Bean in Fondren
Credit: Drew Dempsey/The Tell Agency

The Bean, Fondren

The Bean, owned and operated by Kristy Buchanan, takes pieces of what everyone loves about coffee shops and mashes them together for a refreshing (and caffeinated) experience.

As the shop is approaching its second anniversary, rebranding from Sneaky Beans, Kristy reflects on how much they've grown and what all they're looking forward to.

"After living in places like New York, North Carolina, and Georgia, and becoming familiar with so many coffee spots, one thing I wanted to hone in on was having one space that had many different ways to utilize it," Kristy says. "I wanted to bring that here. That was the inspiration for taking what Sneaky Beans was doing really well, the community aspect, and broadening on it."

Kristy recalls that figuring out how to run her own business also meant being more comfortable with having confidence in her decision-making. Now that she's spent some time learning the ropes, she says that one of her favorite parts of this business is seeing her team flourish.

"The success of this shop is the people who work for me and work alongside me. I couldn't do this alone," Kristy says. "If you're going to create a brand or a business or anything, make sure you have a strong team to go alongside you that has some ownership in how they operate. I want everybody that works here to feel like this is their place, too, and that they have a space they can thrive."

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Elizabeth Upchurch, owner of Fresh Ink in Banner Hall in the LeFleur East neighborhood
Credit: Drew Dempsey/The Tell Agency

Elizabeth Upchurch has lived in the Jackson area for over 25 years and continues to inspire customers' bridal and life events with her team of creatives at Fresh Ink.

A gift and stationery store specializing in custom invitations, Elizabeth was inspired to open Fresh Ink after several years of working for and traveling with a wholesale retail group that would cater to household names like Neiman Marcus and Pier One.

"In all these cities like New York, Dallas, and Atlanta, I would see these great stationery stores with beautiful letterpress, and all these custom things," Elizabeth says.

Now a household name in Jackson and across the Southeast, one of Elizabeth's favorite aspects of her business is giving life to a client's vision and navigating their options to deliver the most meaningful, stress-free experience possible. As a woman-owned and women-run business, she credits her team's natural multitasking abilities with keeping creativity flowing.

"I think that it means juggling a lot of things. Whether it's life at home, family, and everything else," Elizabeth says. "It's great to have people that are on the same wavelength. I think 'women-owned' means that we can designate what's going to work best for our clients, of course, but then also for our team."

In her eyes, flexibility is the key ingredient to making a business successful, especially for newcomers.

"Be prepared to listen because everything is always fluid," Elizabeth says. "You may think a certain direction is the best, but you have to listen to all those outside factors to make the best decision for your business. Not necessarily for your ego, timeline, or initial goals, but doing what makes sense to support everybody's growth."

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Anne Marie Hanna

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Anne Marie Hanna