Lisa Dunn has her finger on the fashion pulse. When Dunn opened her up-cycle clothing store, Déjà Vu, in Franklin in 2007, consignment stores had not yet become the trend they are today.
“At the time, ‘resale’ was not as in vogue as it is now,” Dunn explains, “but I sensed an opportunity coming and decided to open a luxury consignment boutique as opposed to a ‘thrift/ second-hand store’ that most shoppers were used to.”
Dunn is not the only woman ahead of the business curve in Franklin. With a downtown that is dominated by women-owned stores and service providers, the historic village is leading the way in entrepreneur trends. Mary Ann Liut and Monica George own lifestyle boutique Zieben Mare, Amy Regal runs beauty bar Glamour Puss, and Jacqueline Drake has recently opened a new gallery. The movement is not just about women in retail either, but also behind essential service businesses. Elina Costello owns a dental office in the village (Smile Builders of Franklin), and Pam Migliore is part owner of the village’s Marathon gas station.
Costello established her dental practice 15 years ago and says that the women driving Franklin’s downtown are here to stay. “I do think, having known the women in business here, that they are serious, long-term strategists,” she says.
Village President Pam Hansen believes Franklin is following a national increase in women in business. Over the past 20 years the number of women-owned businesses has grown 114 percent in the U.S.A., and according to a 2017 report, women-owned businesses generate more than $1.7 trillion in revenue. “We just happen to be a place where the scale of the businesses and the kind of businesses have been attractive to women entrepreneurs,” Hansen says.
Dunn says part of the appeal is working where you live. “Being a resident and business owner in Franklin is an awesome combination,” she says. “I have a great clientele not only from Franklin but from all over Michigan and beyond.” Her store has been so successful that four years ago she launched an online shop to reach a national market.
It’s not all thanks to girl-power only though. “The women business owners are working together to support each other,” Hansen says, “but so are the men.” Dunn agrees that diversity is key and working together is the way forward. “As women continue to dominate as owners of the shops downtown, we also welcome new business with male influences to balance the shopping experience.”