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It’s Your Business | New venture’s aim: Supporting women-owned businesses | Entrepreneurs


Cynthia Bruno and Kelly O’Neill know there are many women-owned and women-run businesses that women customers would like to support, if only it were easier to find them.

That’s where their new venture, Miss Market, can help, they said.

Champaign-based Miss Market is a directory of businesses and services that are owned, founded and/or operated by women.

There are currently nearly 200 of these businesses in the Miss Market directory.

Bruno, a Champaign mother of three, said the original idea for Miss Market arose from her own failed hunt to find clothing to fit a postpartum mom’s body after she had a baby in 2019. Then the COVID-19 pandemic came along, making it even tougher, with such obstacles as fitting rooms at stores closed.

She took to ordering things and sending them back, and when she went looking for the owners behind the clothing she was buying she found they were largely men, she said.

She vowed to shift her purchasing to women-owned and women-run businesses, though it took hours of research to find those businesses that had the products she needed, she said. Once she found them, though, “I found so many things that worked for me,” Bruno said.

She and O’Neill met at a United Way of Champaign County Emerging Community Leaders program and became friends. They first launched a non-profit organization, Girls Go For It, to help foster leadership development in girls and encourage them to pursue their dreams.

Now, they hope to give women-operated businesses a boost — and also help women shoppers leverage their purchasing power by saving them time and giving them the information they need to buy from those businesses.

Women control 70 to 80 percent of the purchasing decisions, and even shifting a single percent of those purchases to women-operated businesses could make a big difference, Bruno said.

She and O’Neill have built their directory and launched it with the help of a city of Champaign grant, and said they worked with Visit Champaign County to highlight local women-run businesses.

Their goal is to make Miss Market a national directory, though there are also Illinois businesses listed, O’Neill said.

“There are so many incredible women-owned, women-founded businesses in the Champaign-Urbana community,” she said.

Both in their 30s, Bruno and O’Neill say it’s a perfect time to launch their women-operated business directory as they see a big shift underway in what Millennials and Generation Z value in making their purchasing decisions.

Find Miss Market:

Support local

Here’s your chance to vote for a local business to win the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association’s Makers Madness competition for the coolest thing made in Illinois.

On the list of 311 products in the current voting round, which will reduce the list for the next round of voting to 16 semifinalists, are 33 products made in Champaign County.

Those Champaign County products include auto bumpers, pipe organs, flight simulators, graduation caps and gowns, ketchup, macaroni and cheese, Miracle Whip, museum exhibits, hair products, face masks, COVID-19 saliva tests and much more.

The current online voting round ends today at midnight.

Go here for the list of Champaign County vendors and a link to vote.

New venture

Frank Ambros has opened V.I.D.A. Bottega at 1912 Moreland Blvd., C.

It’s offering services for vehicles and residential and commercial buildings such as detailing, full color changes, paint protection film, window-tinting, ceramic coating and residential and commercial vinyl wall wraps. Customers can bring in their own designs or work with an in-house graphic designer.

Ambros said he’s a disabled veteran and a former owner of It’s a Wrap Automotive.

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