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6 Successful Women Entrepreneurs Helping to Shape Downtown

by Taylor Costello
Community Phoenix Community Alliance Taylor Costello October 18, 2023

As the front porch of the fifth-largest city in the country, Greater Downtown Phoenix is a microcosm of a prosperous small business culture found across the city. If there’s a service needed, it’s nearly guaranteed that someone in the community can fulfill that need.

To celebrate National Women’s Small Business Month in October, we’re sharing a few inspiring vignettes of our retail and commercial Phoenix Community Alliance Members. There are more than 13 million women-owned businesses in the United States, and Downtown boasts quite a few exceptional examples. This is just a sample of the small business community within our membership and what they’ve done to make a difference Downtown.

Amy Schaumberg, A. Marie Studio’s owner, poses in the interior of her Downtown studio. (Photo Courtesy of Amy Schaumberg)

Amy Schaumberg, A.Marie Studio

The unifying philosophy behind the work of Amy Schaumberg, the owner of A. Marie Studio is to “shoot the story.” Everyone who comes through her third-floor Downtown studio comes to her with a specific need to articulate in the final product. No two photoshoots are alike.

Schaumberg’s portfolio runs the gambit from product branding, interiors, portraiture work, and senior shots, so her goal for every shoot is to remove the barrier between the camera lens and the subject to build rapport.

To put it simply, she wants to remove the anxiety associated with having your photo taken. You only need to look your best on the day of the shoot, and she’ll take care of the rest.

Fair Trade Café owner Stephanie Vasquez stands behind the “Conscience” mural on the back patio of her shop. (Photo: David Wallace)

Stephanie Vasquez, Fair Trade Café

Believe it or not, Stephanie Vasquez’s café almost wasn’t a Downtown staple. Initially, she searched in the West Valley where she grew up. But she describes the shop as having chosen her and not the other way around.

Since Fair Trade Café opened in 2007, Vasquez describes the secret of her business as a “conscientious, sustainable business” model. Over the years, she has fulfilled these practices in more ways than one.

Community members can utilize her café as a safe gathering place. The food is produced in-house and made with ingredients from local vendors.

And, of course, this extends down to the coffee Fair Trade produces for customers: The beans are from ethically sourced and sustainability-focused producers, while the used coffee grounds are turned into compost.

Whatever the difficulty, the small-town vibes that imbued Fair Trade Café at the beginning continue more than a decade later.

Learn more about Vasquez’s story in DTPHX’s 2022 In/Flux interview

Kim Haasarud, Garden Bar Phoenix’s owner, with her immaculate cocktails and grazing boards. (Photos by Taylor Costello and Garden Bar Phoenix)

Kim Haasarud, Garden Bar Phoenix

Tucked into a quiet residential side street off Roosevelt Row, a converted all-white 1914 bungalow is where the senses converge.

Operated by James Beard-honored mixologist Kim Haasarud and her staff of like-minded bartenders, Garden Bar Phx produces an evolving menu of aromatic cocktails mixed with grazing (charcuterie) boards.

The overall presentation for the patron, including the setting, looms large for Haasarud and her staff. Multiple private tasting rooms and a main bar are bathed in natural light and bright paints. Cocktails are demarcated by palette, whether fizzy, sour, or cozy. Food pairings are gently suggested on the menu and by staff to guarantee a good time for all.

Learn more about Garden Bar Phoenix here

Krista Shepherd, Multistudio’s Phoenix Principal. (Photo courtesy of Multistudio)

Krista Shepherd, Multistudio

From Multistudio’s adaptively reused studio, a historic paper distribution building in the Warehouse District, their design team has thrived turning conceptual ideas into vibrant representations of the Greater Downtown community.

Led by Principal Krista Shepherd, the firm stewarded projects, currently represented by the upcoming Central Station development, to consciously reflect the urban environment.

For example, the project has two residential towers wrapped around a transit hub and multiple street-level commercial activations for true walkability.

Adhesion to collaboration has taken Shepherd to community workshops, to engage and assist businesses along Valley Metro’s South Central Extension routes, and as the past co-chair of PCA’s Multi-Modal Connectivity Committee meetings, for more than eight years. Mayor Gallego recently appointed Shepherd to serve on the PlanPHX 2025 Leadership Committee, which shapes the City of Phoenix’s General Plan every ten years.

As Shepherd sees it, the events of each day present opportunities for learning things not known the day prior.

Havana, owner of Stardust & Sage in Downtown Phoenix helps her guests find healing one crystal at a time. (Photo: David Wallace)

Havana, Stardust & Sage

The Roosevelt Row boutique Stardust & Sage fills in the gaps of medicine to provide care. The walls of her shop are lined with items, such as crystals, candles, oils, and more, that tap into the body’s senses.

For Havana, the shop owner, she personally can attest to the results of the healing properties. In 2016, she passed out multiple times a week, resulting from a dysautonomia disorder with no known cure.

The dysregulation of her heartbeat and blood pressure brought upon fainting spells. Her research revealed that rose quartz, an opaque pink mineral, could provide relief. For almost a year, Havana carried the quartz wherever she went, and a daily regimen of the mineral mixed with medication provided permanent relief. And now, she provides these helpful healing tools to people who are similarly in need.

Learn more about Havana’ story in DTPHX’s 2023 In/Flux interview

Julie Wolf, Thinking Caps Design’s Founder and Principal, with the Arizona School for the Arts panels along the campus perimeter, which were installed in 2016. (Photos Courtesy of Thinking Caps Design)

Julie Wolf, Thinking Caps Design

If Downtown had an identifiable type of branding, what would it be? For almost thirty years, Julie Wolf and her Thinking Caps Design team have created branding based on longevity, transforming disparate ideas into simple, unforgettable executions.

A sampling of designs to shape the look and branding of our local destinations include the original Herberger Theater logo, Phoenix Art Museum, Fiesta Bowl PLAY, Children’s Museum of Phoenix, Civic Space Park, and Arizona School for the Arts.

For evolving projects in the public realm, like Hance Park’s revitalization, it’s ensuring an element installed years prior still fits within the continuity.

Wayfinding, or identifiable geographical landmarks, is pivotal in their staying power. When contracted to project the talent from within Arizona School for the Arts to the outside world, she collaborated with the school to weave a series of portraits of their performing arts students around the facility’s fencing for motorists to see from the road.

A referral system has powered Wolf’s achievements through the years, and the results are overwhelming in the open for all to see.

Other women entrepreneurs who are PCA Members making Downtown an exciting place:

Veronica Aguilar (F45 Training Downtown Phoenix), Megan Greenwood (Greenwood Brewing), Ashley Harder (Harder Development), Heather Lennon (Imagine Development), Zee Peralta (Photographer), Emily Rieve & Lindsey Schoenemann (Genuwine), Tricee Thomas (The Garment League), Sue Thompson (Thompson Parking & Mobility Consultants)