Nine women business owners in Marion’s Uptown District have banded together to support and promote themselves and their businesses.
The women, who own galleries, specialty food shops, boutiques and coffee houses, call themselves Women of the MUD, and hope their fledgling marketing campaign will bring additional customers to the area.
Priscilla Steele, co-owner of Campbell Steele Gallery, said when she and her husband, Craig Campbell, moved their gallery into the area in 1991, they didn’t have many neighbors.
“We have company now,” she said. “There’s a full-court press of businesses owned by women who believe in customer service and offering the best quality of goods.”
Steele said she had recognized the strong female leaders in the area for some time. But she was struck with the changes they could make when they worked together to help obtain a Main Street Iowa designation for Marion in January.
“It was a very graphic statement,” she said. “I looked around and said, ‘Look at all of these women.’”
The Main Street Iowa Program is an economic development initiative that seeks to improve select Iowa communities by capitalizing on and improving their historic commercial districts.
Steele said it’s nice to have a large network of female business owners who are excited about the Uptown District and believe in improving the community.
Cathy Petersen, co-owner of Wit’s End Coffeehouse, said the group has provided networking, support and mentorship.
“We learn a lot from each other,” she said, adding she is a first-time business owner. “There’s someone who knows what you’re going though. … It’s just another way to support each other’s businesses.”