A city that’s turning historic warehouses into tech hubs, turn-of-the-century homes into trendy restaurants, and world-class resorts into one-of-a-kind wellness experiences, Phoenix is known for its creativity and ingenuity. And at the forefront of that innovation are the women leading Phoenix’s small-business scene. These unique and inspiring entrepreneurs are changing the cultural landscape of the destination — and offering more diverse options for groups visiting the Arizona city.
When attending an event in Phoenix next year, delegates will be able to check out Greenwood Brewing, set to open in February. The owner, Megan Greenwood, is one of many women shaping the future of Roosevelt Row, downtown Phoenix’s popular arts district, less than a mile north of the Phoenix Convention Center. Greenwood, who is working to make the beer industry more accessible to women, earlier said she chose to open her first brick-and-mortar brewery in the district after falling in love with the area.
In the same district, restaurateur Grace Unger is planning to open three establishments: Josephine, a modern French restaurant; Coup de Grâce, a cocktail bar; and Petit Jo, a coffee shop, bakery, and market. Right around the corner, Lori Hassler and her husband, Eric, opened The Farish House earlier this year. Named for Phoenix’s first city manager, William Farish, the 120-year-old Farish House is now a bistro and wine bar serving European and American classics.
Greenwood, Hassler, and Unger join a long list of women whose businesses have thrived in downtown Phoenix for decades. Cindy Dach, for instance, owns the building that will house Greenwood Brewing, in addition to Dach’s Made Art Boutique and the Eye Lounge, which she co-founded with her husband, Greg. Dach is also a co-founder of the Roosevelt Row Community Development Corp., which is working to preserve the arts and small businesses in the area, and has been a pillar of the community for years. She earlier said she rented a significant portion of her building to Greenwood because she wanted to support Greenwood’s mission of bringing more women into the craft beer scene.
Kimber Lanning is another entrepreneur who’s been vital to preserving the diversity of the artist-friendly Roosevelt Row. In 2003, she founded Local First Arizona — now the nation’s largest local business coalition —to advocate for small businesses in what she saw as an unequal market. Lanning recently received a $25,000 grant from a local foundation to underwrite 12 micro-entrepreneurs, allowing them to participate in the Local First Arizona Foundation’s Fuerza Local Business Accelerator aimed at assisting underserved Latinx business owners across Greater Phoenix.
Another influential Phoenix entrepreneur putting down roots in the Roosevelt Row area is Allison DeVane, owner of Teaspressa café, where she serves her coffee-inspired tea. DeVane, who previously said she started her business with a “$25 laundry cart and a tablecloth from T.J. Maxx,” is now a pioneer in the gourmet tea industry.
Nearby, Danielle Leoni and her husband, Dwayne Allen, opened the Breadfruit and Rum Bar in 2008. The Breadfruit is Arizona’s first business to participate in the James Beard Foundation’s Smart Catch program, a sustainable seafood program, and strives to be a zero-waste kitchen, with almost all waste being recycled or composted instead of ending up in landfills.
These women are just a few of the trailblazers putting their stamp on the small-business scene in Phoenix by serving as leaders in equality, sustainability, diversity, and education and transforming Phoenix’s downtown core for locals and visitors alike.