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Marie-Joe Bouffard, owner JFY Designs / Photo by Leslie Parrott

Featured Article

Females Of Influence

These Business Women Continue To Spearhead Change And Progress

Based on employment statistics for Belle Meade, category breakdowns are: private companies 59.97%; self-employed 19.35%; nonprofit organizations 17.56% and governmental workers 3.12%.​​ Many of these working groups are operated by females who embody what it means to be changemakers and leaders. 

Belle Meade Lifestyle asked the following women business executives how being part of Nashville influenced their businesses and leadership styles, in addition to the best advice they have for other women planning to start their own ventures in the region. 

Sarah Kmita
Owner of Green Hills Seamstress:

Nashville’s dynamic culture, especially its emphasis on community, has encouraged Sarah to approach business with a creative, collaborative mindset. "As a female entrepreneur, I've learned to value diversity, prioritize open communication and foster a culture of respect and empowerment within my team."

She says Nashville's spirit of innovation also inspired her to think outside the box within her company. "Being in Nashville shaped me into a more adaptable, empathetic and innovative leader."

Sarah's best advice for women planning to start their own ventures in Nashville is to embrace the city's vibrant entrepreneurial community fully. "Connect with other female entrepreneurs and tap into the supportive networks available. Don't be afraid to seek mentorship and guidance from experienced professionals who can provide valuable insights and advice. Stay true to your unique vision and values, and use Nashville's creative energy to innovate and differentiate your business. Prioritize self-care and resilience, as entrepreneurship is a challenging and rewarding journey."

Dr. Miriam Hall
Orthodontist, Hall Orthodontics:

Being an active member in the Nashville community has greatly attributed to overall success, assures Dr. Hall. "I value my relationships and partnerships with both profit and nonprofit groups, as well as relationships built around my children’s extracurricular activities."

She says the opportunity to play an active role in local areas enhances her personal life outside of the professional benefits. "For myself, there are cornerstones of leadership that I hold true; you have to be able to follow to be able to lead. Without an amazing team and community, there would be no business and there would be no success. Like anything else, the knowledge gained by the years of experience in my field has allowed me to adapt and evolve depending on the ever-changing needs of our community."

Dr. Hall's best advice for other women wanting to start their own venture is to be the best version of yourself. "Combine the notions of being the utmost expert in your field with the dynamic ability to evolve, change and grow. Don't limit yourself to the status quo, and tap into your creative nature within. Create the ideal life you want alongside your business and go all in. Don’t compare yourself to others and stay humble."

In the end, she encourages other women to hold strong to themselves and their values, and remember that "if you are true to yourself, success will follow."

Meagan Benson
Owner and Creator of Pretty Lovely Teas:

With all of Nashville's growth, Meagan says there's a natural hustle that comes along with it. "Most of that hustle stems from a large community of hardworking entrepreneurial women and that spirit has heavily influenced me," she adds. 

Meagan's advice to other enterprising women: "Start and keep going. If you feel it in your gut, don't quit even when you absolutely want to!"

Kate Figler
Owner of Kate Figler Interiors:

Nashville is a very strong and supportive community, agrees Kate. "There's a large network of business owners here who look out for one another, and because of that, we strive to be collaborative, thoughtful and encouraging in our approach."

Kate's recommendations to other entrepreneurial women are two-fold: "I would first encourage them to network with other female business owners who have gone before them and are open to sharing their thoughts and suggestions for best practices. Second, and perhaps more importantly, I would urge them to listen and take in their guidance. While you don't need to model your business exactly off of another's, it's so important to ask questions and remain humble in the fact that you're just getting started."

Lizzie Pogue
Owner, Lizzie Pogue Interiors:

While Nashville is indeed a big city, Lizzie says she believes it maintains a small-town feel because of its residents. "I've met so many designers, textile and furniture reps in the Nashville area who've been kind and helpful along the way. Their generosity shaped how I run my business and what kind of person I want to be in front of this business," she adds. "Additionally, my style is Southern traditional with layers of prints, florals and textures in fabrics, thus making Nashville a perfect place for inspiring Southern charm through interiors, architecture and caring people."

Lizzie suggests that other enterprising women just go for it! "Educate yourself. Read and look through coffee table books. Listen to podcasts. Take classes. Network. Try working with others to learn the business side of things. Life is too short not to do something you love."

Elizabeth Perkins
Owner, Bennett Galleries Nashville:

Nashville is growing at a fast pace, but Elizabeth says she's been local long enough to know what Old Nashville really is. "We strive to keep that atmosphere moving into the future. We want to stay authentic, non-pretentious and approachable. We're Nashville, not New York, and it reflects in our laid-back yet professional approach."

Elizabeth's best advice for other women planning to start their own ventures in the region is to: "Be yourself. Your authenticity will be your calling card for years to come, and Nashville welcomes originality."

Jodi Suglio, MS
General Manager, STRIDE Fitness - West End

Due to the nature of Nashville's rapid growth, both in number of people and number of fitness businesses more specifically, Jodi says she's had to dial in on the little things that make a gym successful and what sets them apart from the rest.

"In Nashville, community matters and I've worked tirelessly to build a true sense of community at every studio I've managed here," she adds. 

For her management style, I focus on consistent communication, training, & the sharing of best practices so our staff feels comfortable, confident & supported in everything they do at STRIDE. We really take pride in providing the best possible experience for the patrons who choose to walk through our doors. I also prioritize a healthy work/life balance for my staff, something they might not find in other places. 

Tina Tunney
Co-owner, All In Boutique Transportation:

"Nashville has had a tremendous influence on All In Boutique Transportation and my leadership style, because Nashville is full of energy, hopes, dreams and talent," explains Tina. "Our company is reflective of that as we strive to deliver luxe, boutique-style black car service to our clients while always accommodating their individual travel needs."

Tina says she believes her leadership style helps their employees become the best version of themselves, training them to be first-in-class in the industry, and always encouraging them to perfect the client’s personal experience.

"Our chauffeurs represent the best of Music City, and will even pick you up in a cowboy uniform with cowboy boots topped off with a cowboy hat. At All In Boutique Transportation, guaranteed Southern hospitality is not just our goal, but our mission. We want our clients to take a little bit of Nashville with them every time they book a ride with us," Tina says. 

Her best advice for other women planning to start their own ventures in the region is to recognize a need in the marketplace: "See the opportunity you have in front of you and go for it! All In Boutique Transportation started because I saw a niche in the market for luxe, personalized travel that wasn’t currently being met in the Nashville metro. We were new to Nashville, like luxe, black car service, and the best we could find was maybe Uber Black. We thought there’s got to be others who feel the same way we do. Deciding to go all in, we carved out the perfect niche market for ourselves and others who desire luxe, boutique-style black car service."

Shira Levy
Consultant: Business Analysis | Project Management 

"Being in Nashville significantly influenced my business and leadership style by emphasizing the importance of authenticity, collaboration and community," says Shira. "Nashville's vibrant music scene, progressive spirit, growth mindset and entrepreneurial drive taught me the value of creativity, innovation and building meaningful relationships with others. Additionally, the city's diverse culture and rich history inspired me to embrace diversity, inclusivity and empathy."

Her best advice for women planning to start their own Nashville ventures is to network extensively, seek mentorship from successful entrepreneurs and leverage the supportive community of like-minded individuals. "Additionally, prioritize building a strong support system, stay true to your vision, and don't be afraid to take calculated risks. Embrace challenges as opportunities for growth, and always remember to advocate for yourself and your ideas confidently."

Leslie Murphy
Owner and Creative Director, Murphy Maude Interiors:

Nashville area homeowners and commercial location managers seeking to refresh their homes or offices tap into the professional guidance of Leslie Murphy, owner and creative director for Murphy Maude Interiors. 

Murphy Maude Interiors is an internationally published interior design firm headquartered from the creative Nashville scene. Leslie says they specialize in artfully intentional residential and boutique commercial interior design environments.

"From innovative textiles to custom furniture and original artwork, each space is highly curated to realize our client’s vision of sophisticated living. Using the latest technologies and inspiration drawn from our uniquely art-driven process, our experienced team of designers and artists go beyond the ordinary to create the remarkable," she adds. 

"Murphy Maude Interiors is based in Nashville, but is available to work anywhere if the project aligns with our aesthetic," Leslie states. 

"I learned to always take on things I’d never done before. Growth and comfort do not coexist." ~Virginia Romerty, first woman to head IBM

"I don’t like to lose — at anything — yet I’ve grown most not from victories, but setbacks." ~Serena Williams, professional tennis champion

"You cannot live in this world and be successful and not have heartaches, troubles, disappointments. It's how you deal with it." ~Dolly Parton

"The most successful entrepreneurs I know are optimistic. It’s part of the job description." ~Caterina Fake, co-founder of websites Flickr and Hunch.

  • Sarah Kmita, owner, Green Hills Seamstress
  • Dr. Miriam Hall, Orthodontist at Hall Orthodontics 
  • Marie-Joe Bouffard, owner JFY Designs / Photo by Leslie Parrott
  • Meagan Benson, owner, Pretty Lovely Teas
  • Kate Figler, owner, Kate Figler Interiors / Photo by Leslie Parrott
  • Lizzie Pogue, owner, Lizzie Pogue Interiors
  • Elizabeth Perkins, owner, Bennett Galleries Nashville
  • Shira Levy
  • Leslie Murphy, owner, Murphy Maude Interiors / Photo by Leslie Parrott

Businesses featured in this article