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This Way UP Feature Fridays: April

On Fridays, the Vermont Women's Fund profiles Vermont women entrepreneurs who are the foundation of our economy and communities. Follow the Women's Fund social media posts on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to see these profiles posted each week.

Shari Miller, The Deer in the Shires, Shaftsbury

She is a woman who codes!

Shari Miller is owner of The Deer in the Shires, a graphic and web design company in Shaftsbury. She is happy to say that she is a lady who codes!

 “What I love the most about Vermont is the people… I feel embraced and supported by the community and feel very fortunate to be here.” She wants to use her skill set to help other businesses create a thoughtful digital footprint.

She explains that it can feel isolating being a sole woman business owner and is honored to be part of the This Way UP community.

Follow Shari on Instagram.

Sarah Lyman, PurplCouch, Vergennes

What is the origin story of your business? For Sarah Lyman, it started with furniture. “When I was furnishing my new home after my divorce, I suddenly realized that I didn’t need anyone else’s input on the furniture. I got a gorgeous velour purple couch and I named my business after it… is a symbol of the empowerment we get when we look forward and write the next chapter of our lives.”

In her Feature Friday, she explains how this major life event inspired Sarah Lyman to create PurplCouch to help people through the divorce process. She found a service gap and developed a program with a team of experts—or as one reporter put it, "her team of Avengers" with her as Nick Fury, leading the way. Her goal is to help people reframe their mindset and their lives from "failed marriage to fresh start."

Sarah was profiled by Seven Days in February 2022.


Jessica Nolan, Island Charm, Alburgh

 Jessica Nolan

Balancing a “real” job with her true passion for jewelry making is how Jessica Nolan makes Island Charm work to fuel her creativity and support her family. She and her husband own and operate Island Tree Service where she runs the books, accounts, and schedules customers. Then she built Island Charm, first as an online store and selling at local events, into a physical shop in Vermont’s Lake Champlain Islands.

“I got my start about 17 years ago when my obsession for gemstones grew into gemstone beads! I am always coming up with new ideas and keeping with the trends,” she says. One of those trends is the need that she identified for jewelry sized for children. “I also love making jewelry for kids! Nothing worse than seeing a kid try on an adult bracelet and being heartbroken it doesn’t fit them.”

Carina Hamel, Bivo, Richmond

Carina Hamel

Carina built her career on the drive that she developed as an athlete. When she retired from ski racing, she was concerned that she wouldn’t have anything to work towards. “When I started my own company [a footwear development company], I found an outlet for my competitive drive. While often stressful, I love constantly being challenged to learn new skills and do things I didn't know I was capable of.”

That first company was built on Carina’s experience in international business at footwear companies. She explains in her company blog that she was often the only woman in the room and asked if that intimidated her, she explains that it didn’t, “When I was part of ski teams, the men and women had many workouts that were done together and I always looked at myself as part of the team, not just the women’s team. This mindset certainly helped as a woman in business, and I am grateful for that!”

Inspiration for Carina’s newest company came from her experience as a mother and an athlete. “When I first started feeding our daughter out of a bottle, I was looking for alternatives to plastic. My husband and I were discussing this while out for a ski and realized any time we exercise, we drink out of plastic. We looked around for performance metal water bottles and found there wasn't a good solution. When we discovered this hole in the market, we knew we had to create a solution.”

And so, Bivo was born! Carina co-founded Bivo during the pandemic while also moving across the country to Vermont, having a second child, and running her other business. We congratulate Bivo on also being selected for the LaunchVT 2022 cohort!

Read more about Carina’s background as an entrepreneur on the Bivo blog.

Dr. Emelia Brogna, Wayfinder Wellness and Physical Therapy, Shelburne

Dr. Emelia Brogna co-founded Wayfinder Wellness and Physical Therapy with the specialty to help patients recover when other physical therapy programs have not helped. Her experience as a child with chronic pain and health issues shaped how she treats and interacts with people. She and her partner and coworkers designed the practice to heal “with hospitality and heart.”™

What Emelia likes best about being a business owner is that if something isn’t working she can change it; just as she does with her patients. She seeks to understand her patients’ stories deeply as she explains, “In a way that then helps us drive medical outcomes and lifestyle outcomes that is different than anywhere else…That way we can help them gain back the things that they may not have been able to do.”

#VTWomenOwned Business

There are stories like this all across the state. As more and more people take the This Way UP survey we're learning about the determination and power that fuels these businesses.

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