Celebrating Kent Women in Business

Look beyond the beautiful facades of countless small businesses throughout Kent and take a look inside. You’ll notice a group of exceptional women with a wide variety of skills, guiding their businesses and employees, and governing the events that make Kent a wonderful community to live and work in. Many of these women forego the spotlight.

This month, we celebrate them.

Thanks to their leadership, mentoring and example, more women throughout Northeast Ohio and beyond can have the courage to move forward with their own visions for tomorrow’s innovative new companies and services.

We sat down with Heather Malarcik, who has been Main Street Kent’s Executive Director for eight years and counting, alongside Marketing Director Lesley Sickle. Heather and Lesley are two Kent women championing all the small businesses throughout our community through promotion, event/festival planning, beautification, and expanding Main Street Kent into new territories.

Heather Malarcik

How did you get involved with Main Street Kent?

I was working as a freelancer in marketing, and came across a Facebook post on MSK’s page about an available part-time position. I looked into it because I needed to be working more, and I was hungry for change and working with people after working independently for a few years.

Why did working with Main Street Kent interest you?

I really didn’t know what I was getting into at first, and certainly had no idea I would end up leading the organization for over eight years now. It’s been challenging and fun — developing an effective board of directors and volunteer base has been key to making things happen. Plus. I have an amazing co-worker, Lesley Sickle, who produces beautiful work and is critical to our success. We get a charge out of pulling “doers” together, and bringing things to fruition — from cool public art projects to unusual events — all in the interest of building up our downtown.

What are your short term and long term goals for Main Street Kent?

Our mission is to make downtown Kent a fun, vibrant and thriving place. So long term, we want Kent to be everyone’s “first choice” when it comes to dining, entertainment, shopping, events, outdoor recreation, higher education, and a place to live. Our community is awesome and we try to show that in all we do. In the short term, we work every day to get that message out, supporting and featuring our downtown businesses, and making/showcasing Kent as an interesting, exciting place where all are welcome.

What makes Kent a unique community for women in business?

We have some incredibly strong businesswomen in this city — and leaders in general. We see small business success all over downtown Kent, and I think that sets a solid example for other women as to what is possible here. Look at Michelle Sahr (Off the Wagon, Red Letter Days, Kent Cheesemonger), Gwen Rosenberg (Popped! Kent and Ravenna), Cass McKay (McKay Bricker Framing); these ladies have been running successful businesses from eight to over thirty years! You see Rosie the Riveter and “Bitches Get Stuff Done” merchandise in Kent because, well, it’s true.

What obstacles might you experience as a woman in business?

I truly don’t see a disadvantage to being a woman business owner in Kent. If you have knowledge, resources, and passion…it’s all yours.

What does being a woman in business mean to you?

As time goes on, it becomes less of a “thing” for a woman to be a business owner and/or leader in this community. It’s kind of like race, sexuality, and all these other things. We’re all just people, making a living, having an impact, and creating the world in which we want to live.

Lesley Sickle

How did you get involved with Main Street Kent?

I got involved with Main Street Kent 6 years ago. I was working part time and I was told of an opportunity to help with marketing at Main Street Kent from a past member of the Board of Directors who thought I’d have an interest.

Why did working with Main Street Kent interest you?

I researched Main Street Kent and as a life long Kent community member, I was interested in the mission and goals of the organization. They were seeking design and marketing skills and as a graduate from the Kent State University School of Art, I thought it was an opportunity to use some of my skill set and work to promote my hometown.

What are your short term and long term goals for Main Street Kent?

My goals for Main Street Kent are to continue to build our brand recognition, continue to foster our relationships with business owners and other non profit organizations and keep improving our existing events. I want to work towards implementing and executing more public art projects and develop new ideas for new creative, fun and fresh events and/or incentives to bring people to our downtown.

What makes Kent a unique community for women in business?

Kent is filled with numerous female business owners and professionals. I think our city and community members alike, take pride and support our hardworking women. With a variety of businesses, it offers a unique mix for our community to embrace and support.

What does being a woman in business mean to you?

I take great pride in the work I do and love working alongside a fellow strong, independent woman. Our Board of Directors is also an absolutely dedicated, amazing group of people with a strong female presence, as well as our committees and volunteers. I look forward to continuing the great work we do and feel very fortunate to work for our fantastic city and our downtown.

 

 

More Kent Women in Business

Learn more about all the Kent Women in Business by reading our other interviews with small business leaders.