Five Women-Owned Businesses We Love in Upstate New York

Look no further than the upstate landscape for talented women pushing the economy forward by way of their unique and inspiring businesses. Here at And North, we can’t help but feel empowered by their strong sense of focus, entrepreneurial insight, and collaborative spirit when it comes to supporting themselves and their growing communities. In celebration of what we hope becomes more widespread as time marches on, we’ve compiled five upstate businesses we admire, all founded and owned by women.

Hannah Black and Carla Perez-Gallardo
Lil’ Deb’s Oasis
Five Women-Owned Businesses We Love in Upstate New York .
Five Women-Owned Businesses We Love in Upstate New York .

Hannah Black and Carla Perez-Gallardo are the owners and artist-chefs behind Lil’ Deb’s Oasis, a casual yet vivacious restaurant serving up tropical comfort food in Hudson, NY. The two met while running a Vietnamese food truck in nearby Catskill. When the season came to an end, they started a catering company called Table | Table, hosting pop-up events and collaborating with local artists and galleries. In January 2016, after a weeklong pop-up at Art Basel Miami, they returned to the Hudson Valley and enthusiastically agreed to take over Debbie’s Lil’ Restaurant, a longtime breakfast spot whose owner, Debbie Fiero, was looking to retire. “Hudson was the perfect place to break ground at our level — we didn’t need big investments or capital to get our project off the ground,” says Hannah and Carla, who kept Debbie’s name in the space to honor her legacy. “With the support of our artistic community, our family and friends, we were able to make magic happen with very little means. This is not to say that we haven’t had several moments of dire stress — it’s hard, but somehow all the pieces seem to come together at the last minute and collectively we find a creative solution.”

Hudson, NY
128 miles from New York City

Photos by Les Guzman and Lil’ Deb’s Oasis

Franca Fusco
Boxwood Linen
Five Women-Owned Businesses We Love in Upstate New York .
Five Women-Owned Businesses We Love in Upstate New York .

Set in the quaint village of Chatham, about two hours north of the city, is Boxwood Linen, a sun-drenched storefront offering high-quality linen items for the home, as well as a curated selection of tableware, serveware, and fragrances. Every Boxwood piece is hand cut and sewn by Toronto-born designer and founder Franca Fusco, a fashion industry veteran who launched her atelier-style business in 1999 while still living in Pennsylvania. Franca, who moved upstate eight years ago, draws inspiration from the trade she left behind and leans on the old-world sewing techniques she mastered as a student. “I knew I wanted to start my own business,” says Franca, who is mindful of the idea that if you are good at something, people will come to you. “The harder I work, the better luck I have. When you’re self-employed, you need to be super dedicated, tenacious, and absolutely love what you do. If you cannot imagine doing anything else, then you’re in the right business.”

Chatham, NY
132 miles from New York City

Photos by Boxwood Linen

Casey Scieszka
Spruceton Inn
Five Women-Owned Businesses We Love in Upstate New York .
Five Women-Owned Businesses We Love in Upstate New York .

Dreams of renovating a Moroccan riad and turning it into a guesthouse is what inspired Brooklyn writer and graphic designer Casey Scieszka to scour the Catskills for a hotel property to call her own. Today, she runs Spruceton Inn, a popular bed and bar in the foothills of West Kill Mountain in West Kill, NY. Dating back to the early 1800s, the inn had seen many incarnations — from a Dutch farm, to The Schwarzenegger’s Sunshine Valley House, to a private family home — but when Casey became proprietor, the intent was on creating a clean, minimalist escape where the stars came out and the beds got made. “My mantra when opening the inn was Everything will get done because it has to,” says Casey. “I must have told myself that ten times a day because, frankly, there were points when it seemed impossible — this idea that all fifty thousand things you have to do to open your business will get done. And it’s not just the sheer amount of tasks, it’s the variety. There were days when I would spend the morning finalizing our liquor application, the afternoon ordering sample linens, and the evenings designing our website. That’s a lot of different hats. But that’s exactly what I wanted — to have my hand in everything. And you know what? Everything got done because it had to!”

West Kill, NY
139 miles from New York City

Photos by Nana Hagel and Natalie Chitwood

Tess Palma-Martinez
Forage + Sundry
Five Women-Owned Businesses We Love in Upstate New York .
Five Women-Owned Businesses We Love in Upstate New York .

Mixed-media artist and designer Tess Palma-Martinez is the owner of Forage + Sundry, an airy store and workshop in Troy, NY, brimming with greenery and beautiful items for the home and garden. A passion rooted in creating large-scale installations mixed with experience assisting several prominent New York City artists and designers sparked Tess to learn more about living plants as design elements, eventually becoming an integral part of her own design process. “I started selling terrariums and potted plants to stores in the Capital District, but always had the desire to own a store,” says Tess, a former Display Coordinator for Anthropologie who underwent the SEED program at UAlbany and was funded through SEFCU to open Forage + Sundry as a brick-and-mortar in October 2015. “Many of the products offered I have collected for myself and home through the years. The workshop doubles as my personal studio and a space for community DIY classes. Having a studio space allows me to continue my installation and design work, which keeps the inspiration flowing.”

Troy, NY
159 miles from New York City

Photos by Michael Valiquette and Tess Palma-Martinez

Inez Valk
Table on Ten
Five Women-Owned Businesses We Love in Upstate New York .
Five Women-Owned Businesses We Love in Upstate New York .

Inez Valk is the chef and owner of locally-sourced eatery/inn Table on Ten in Bloomville, NY, a hamlet buried deep in the Western Catskills surrounded by farmland and rolling meadows. For the last few years, Table on Ten has served as the informal gathering place for a tight-knit group of farmers, creatives, and weekenders populating Delaware County. Plating casual fare in an 1860s Italianate refurbished by Inez herself with help from friends and neighbors, her menu has become synonymous with the farms that make up the area, featuring ingredients freshly picked or dropped off by growers living within a 10-mile radius. “I moved up to the Catskills eight years ago on a mission to build a handmade home without much of narrative either side of that,” says Inez, who inevitably felt the pull to continue her upstate story with the opening of a restaurant. “There’s a lot of cool stuff going on up here, much of which involves food cultivation. Table on Ten is an enterprise born of that: fundamentally pragmatic, veined with idealism. The key is dogged determination and a resolutely good attitude. Beyond that: good, smart people at your side. A lot can be done with scant resources, but without the people and the determination, you’re pushing a rock uphill.”

Bloomville, NY
163 miles from New York City

Photos by Paola + Murray and  Gentl & Hyers