Dallas has become a hub for small businesses, and some of our favorites are owned and run by creative, innovative, talented women. We talked to the owners of five women-led businesses that we love to get the scoop on how they brought their companies to life, what they do for fun in the city they call home, and the advice they would give to aspiring female entrepreneurs. From a house-call clinic to a podcast to a juice shop to a hair salon to a fitness studio, these women-owned operations are flourishing—in large part due to the driving forces behind them.
Lauren Payne and Shayla Dunlap, Clinic Concierge
Payne and Dunlap, both family nurse practitioners, first saw a need for a clinic that offers private, in-home visits during the height of COVID. When people in Payne’s Park Cities neighborhood had a difficult time finding convenient COVID testing options, she brought swabs to their homes, administered the tests, and took the tests to a lab to get timely results. “Pretty quickly my phone was ringing off the hook!” she says. “Through this process of helping others with COVID testing, I listened to my patients and figured out that they wanted more than just convenient and easy testing. They wanted convenient pediatric sick visits for their kids, convenient aesthetic services for themselves, or even convenient nutritional or weight loss counseling too. So, from this, we expanded our service menu and created Clinic Concierge.”
Dunlap, a Dallas native, and Payne, originally from St. Louis, have now been business partners for more than two years and are busy offering in-home services through Clinic Concierge including adult and pediatric sick visits, IV hydration, cosmetic services, and more. Their goal is to make their clients’ lives less complicated and to save them time. Outside of running the clinic, they both enjoy spending time with family and playing tennis, and Payne enjoys training for marathons, coaching her kids’ sports teams, and being involved in Bible studies. Both Payne and Dunlap would tell aspiring businesswomen to follow their intuition and to be confident and courageous, as well as to enjoy the process.
Leslie Needleman and Mary Kathryn Bass, The GEM
Today, it’s not hard to find a juice and smoothie shop, but only 11 years ago when The GEM opened in Preston Center, it was the first freestanding juice bar in Dallas. Now, it has a second location at Preston and Forest and is still the organic leader in the industry. This is thanks to pioneering owners Mary Kathryn Bass and Leslie Needleman, who first started The GEM after discovering the “power of organic juice, clean food, and a plant-based, anti-inflammatory diet,” after Needleman was diagnosed with breast cancer. Their goal was to use food as medicine and share it with the city of Dallas.
Needleman and Bass, who have lived in Dallas for more than 30 years now and originally met through their kids’ preschool, also love cooking, doing yoga, and traveling together with their husbands, who are their biggest cheerleaders and whose daily routines include The GEM. The GEM may have bright and colorful packaging, but its products, like the Green Glow juice with kale, cucumber, apple, lemon, and ginger, have the substance to support it. “We research every product and ingredient we offer,” Needleman says. “If we won’t eat it, we won’t sell it. We not only offer the highest quality—our products are delicious and approachable.” For other women looking to start a business, their chief advice is to not take “no” for an answer: “If you want something, ask for it!”
Allane O’Neil, Osgood O’Neil Salon
Allane O’Neil has been doing hair since she was 15—but her first gig wasn’t exactly in a salon. While going to school in Tyler, Texas, she worked as a dog groomer to earn some money. After moving back to Dallas, though, she turned her sights on the Toni and Guy Academy to learn the art of creating beautiful (human) hair. She then worked in various salons and, once she was ready following the birth of her son, opened Osgood O’Neil Salon in Snider Plaza with the intent to facilitate a salon with incredible customer service and a stellar experience. In the early days, she not only cut and colored hair, but also worked the front desk and did the laundry. Now, she’s celebrating 25 years in an award-winning business and has a second location on Lovers Lane.
The salon’s pedigree is unmatched—her employees are required to complete a one- or two-year apprenticeship program in the craft they choose. “It is important that our staff is nurtured in their personal goals and lifted up in their artistry,” O’Neil says. The amenities are also unmatched, giving clients access to complimentary wine, champagne, coffee, and tea. When female college students come in as clients, she urges them to think about their passion and to be independent thinkers. “Don’t get distracted in doing what it is that you want to do; find what empowers you,” she says. When O’Neil isn’t empowering her clients, she’s spending time with her mother, son, or friends, as well as playing golf and being involved in different nonprofits.
Martha Jackson and Nellie Sciutto, The Bubble Lounge Podcast
Thousands and thousands of podcasts exist, but there is only one dedicated to women living in the Park Cities: The Bubble Lounge Podcast. Co-hosts Martha Jackson and Nellie Sciutto started the weekly podcast in 2018 as a way to highlight and support small businesses in the town. “We wanted to do all that we can to help the local small businesses thrive by providing an outlet to connect these businesses with potential customers,” Jackson says. Sciutto and Jackson, who met at the University Park Elementary School’s 4th grade mom’s skit, have now grown the podcast to more than 110,000 listeners and have published 190-plus episodes.
Jackson, who also enjoys volunteering with local charities, and Sciutto, an accomplished actress and author in her own right, connect with the Park Cities community through The Bubble Lounge by inviting local business owners and community leaders to be guests on the podcast, where they can talk about their services. “Another great aspect of The Bubble Lounge Podcast is the way it empowers women to be their best selves,” they say of their show that features interviews with successful women in fields like business, entertainment, and politics. For women who want to start a business, Jackson and Sciutto urge them to get out of their comfort zone: “You must make up your mind that you are going to succeed, and you have to show up, day after day. It’s so important to ask for advice from other women business owners who have been through the same process.”
Jasmine Zutter and Paige Martindell, Class Studios
In a city where fitness studios abound, Class Studios stands out from the rest with its class variety, authentic instructors, and its loyal client base. After owner Jasmine Zutter moved to Dallas from New York in 2014, she channeled her love of NYC fitness classes and started teaching cycle at another studio, where she met and later trained Paige Martindell. After instructing together for a few years and holding leadership positions at several studios as well as consulting for studios nationwide, Zutter worked up the confidence to pursue her dream of opening her own studio and asked Martindell to join her in opening it. In 2018, Class Studios West Village was born — and in 2019, the Preston Center location followed. They celebrated their fifth birthday this spring and continue to thrive.
Class Studios offers four formats—cycle, sculpt, train, and tread—which means clients can vary their workouts weekly. “I think fitness consumers are recognizing the value of variety and are more passionate than ever about switching things up throughout the week,” Zutter says. “Class Studios offers so many ways to experiment, led by some of the most talented trainers in the industry. Our instructors are real, authentic, inspirational human beings who approach each class with a desire to truly get to know each client and their stories.” Zutter, a mom to three young boys, encourages aspiring female entrepreneurs to surround themselves with people who will support their dreams, to do their industry research, and to not be afraid to fail and make mistakes: “Some of the biggest breakthroughs have come from some of the roughest seasons.”