PUBLISHED: 10:11 AM on Wednesday, April 5, 2006
Women in Business

Nancy Huebschen

Skeins Fine Yarns

Nancy Huebschen is owner of Skeins Fine Yarns, a retail yarn shop located in the Airport Shopping Center.

As well as offering a variety of high quality natural yarns and popular novelty yarns, Skeins sells books, patterns, knitting, crocheting, weaving and spinning supplies.

Something unique to this shop is that we host "sit and stitch" circles where yarn crafters come and work together on their many projects.

In addition to the free sit and stitch groups, Skeins offers a variety of classes for all levels of knitters and crocheters.

Advice to other women who would like to own or run a business would be, "It is never too late to pursue your own business. Choose something that you are passionate about because you will spend more time working on it than you thought was possible.

"Most importantly is to take time for yourself, schedule it if you must, and use that time for your favorite pursuits - walking the dog, gardening, hiking, exercising, knitting, etc.," Nancy said.

"Bobbie Daniels of Raven Frog Fibers in Sitka advised me to take one day off a week and whatever I do on that day it must not be work related. Great advise and I plan on taking it soon." Nancy said the rewards from the business venture are numerous.

"Watching the business evolve and grow is thrilling. I feel very rich due to all of the people who have entered my life because of the store.," Nancy said.

Kristi Elliott-Gallagher

Our Backyard

Our BackYard has been delighting Juneau's families and visitors for five years now. It is Juneau's only soft contained indoor playground complete with a twisty slide, ball pits, air bounce and two levels for climbing, jumping, frolicking, and making new friends.

The business has recently expanded including video games and offering pizza. Our BackYard offers full service theme parties to accommodate your party rentals. If you are just looking for party supplies it offers a huge selection in all of the latest characters, including our new line of Pull-String Piñata's.

Now that the weather is warming up, you can bring Our BackYard to your BackYard with our giant Inflatable Caterpillar rental for hours of entertainment.

Our BackYard has been a family owned and operated business since 2001. They, however, put a new twist on the phrase "family operated" as it's not just one family operating the business, but the families of the employees who work there as well. You may have noticed when visiting Our BackYard in the Mendenhall Mall, the ladies working may greet you with a baby on their hip, or a toddler may bring you your soda.

This is because employees are offered the opportunity to bring their children with them. This had been one of the inspirations for creating Our BackYard. When owner Kristi Elliott-Gallagher started having children, she decided that she was going to stay with them in their early years, yet she yearned for the work place environment, an income, and some adult interaction.

Penny Harris

Vintage Fare

Vintage Fare Cafe; and Espresso is a unique eating place in Nugget Mall, serving pastries made from scratch, homemade bread and soup. The shop features a full menu, which includes breakfast wraps, quiche, a wide selection of wraps and healthy and delicious salads with homemade dressing.

"I like being able to set my own schedule. Having family is important so juggling time is hard for me," said owner Penny Harris "I love people, and I like helping others. My son calls me a workaholic. I work at home and long hours but I love work. I always have."

Penny said to running a business requires support from family and friends.

Tonya Mauldin

NorthStar Outlet

Tonya Mauldin owns NorthStar Outlet, which offers brand new first quality clothing at 30-90 percent off of the original retail prices.

When stores and designers order clothes for manufacturing they will usually order a bigger quantity so they can get a better price. They then sell the rest to outlet stores, such as NorthStar Outlet, at a discounted price.

Tonya said she would tell other women who would like to own their own business to "Go for it."

She said she values high quality clothing at discount prices and the main focus of the store is high fashion, in style and new designs with one-of-a-kind items.

Most items in the store are unique to give the customers their own look.

"No one wants to buy an outfit and see someone else wearing it," Tonya said.

"It is such a joy seeing the delight on my customers' faces when they find a treasure and they get it today. They didn't have to wait for it to come in the mail only to find out that it doesn't fit them like it did the model."

Tonya said she opened her business out of her own frustration in shopping for clothes in Juneau.

"This is real life shopping. Try it on today and take it home today," Tonya said.

"We love Juneau, but we all need more choices that we can feel and touch today."

Pat Magill Stevens

Alaska Realty Network

Alaska Realty Network is a full service real estate company, specializing in the service of people who looking to buy, sell, build, relocate, or establish a business in our area. We meet people where they are in their real estate journey offering them our experience, education, ethics, integrity, interest, and ability to listen and determine what they need and want.

Owner Pat Magill Stevens said she would suggest that women interested in business to find an area they are skilled in and have a passion for doing.

"It takes a lot of work and energy to build a business so that it begins to give back to you. The first five years are critical, and the longevity will be there if the energy, interest and passion for what you are doing continue," Pat said. "I love serving people in the area of real estate - from the first house to the last - I am there for my clients. It is a privilege and honor to serve them."

Pat said the best business is referral business.

"When my customer tells a friend, we both have someone we respect in common even if we have never met before. It is an honor to me when that happens. They know I will take good care of them."

Alaska Realty Network offers a personal service to its customers and clients that are second to none. They take the inconvenience out of completing a real estate transaction by bringing it to the customer. They offer hourly consultation based on an hourly fee, as well as commission-based contracts for sellers and buyers. Alaska Reality offers a "Help You Sell" program that has a discounted broker fee. Pat said she is there to serve the people of Southeast Alaska for the long haul with more than 19 years experience in the Juneau area.

"The biggest reward to me is that I have proved to myself and to the people that doubted me, that I can run a successful business that has over the years helped a lot of people in many different ways. My personal passion is helping the 'first time' buyer get into their first home," Pat said. "I also love, new construction. I have been doing real estate since March of 1987, and have never been bored with it. Every transaction is different, with different people and different financial aspects. It keeps me challenged and interested every day. I consider it a 'people' business. My heart is in serving people, and real estate is a wonderful avenue to do that in."

Heather Skaggs

Mommy-n-Me Wear

Mommy-n-Me Wear is a consignment shop selling gently used and new clothing for babies and children as well as maternity clothing, baby shower gifts and cloth diapers.

Owner Heather Skaggs said there are so many talented women out there with really creative and original ideas for businesses that Juneau residents and families would really benefit from.

"If you are passionate and honest about your dream, consumers will see that and your business can flourish. Find a mentor, someone that you can bounce your ideas off of that has real experience and will be completely honest with you," Heather said.

As a customer you save great amounts of money on clothing for your family, and yourself during pregnancy. Mommy-n-Me Wear has the ability, with the help of our consignors, to bring high quality name brand clothing to Juneau. You can find all the high-end labels at Mommy-n-Me Wear without paying the price that comes with that label at the Mall down south. As a consignor you make money from the clothing that your children, so quickly, out grow. And from the items you only wore for a few months during pregnancy. It's a win-win situation for everyone.

"Being a mother and a wife is my top priority. But I still craved a professional outlet. My husband and I bought Mommy-n-Me Wear when our kids were 3 and 4. I felt ready to step out into the world again, but I wasn't ready to not be with them all day. The shop has given me my perfect balance," Heather said.

Sally Burnham

Custom Cuts

Since coming to Juneau in 1987, life has been very good to Sally Burnham. Five days after walking off the plane, Sally was working at Sunburst Tanning and Hair. Four years later she made a move to Custom Cuts. After a year of being there, the owner Jolene Shelton offered the business to Sally; it was a good price for a great little business, that was in 1991. In the last 15 years,two moves with the location of the shop, Sally's little business has come to rest in Auke Bay. It's lovely location with a water view that is unbeatable to have to look at all day at work. And spacious enough that all who come in feel comfortable Sally said.

After extensive remodel and a process of upgrading all the equipment, the little business is doing even better. The community of Auke Bay and out-the-road folks have rounded her nice clientel that started all those years back into a thriving business. Sally shares the space with two other businesses, Natural Nails and Alaskan Serenity, to keep the overhead down, which she tries a carry over to the clients.

"I have tried to keep my prices competitively on the lower side so the average family can afford good hair," Sally said.

Sally recently put in a second work station for a person who may want to try their hand in her niche of the world, but it's going to hard to find the right person since she has worked alone for 15 years. "If I ever do find that person, then maybe I can start thinking on retirement," Sally said. "Ummmmm maybe like in 30 years or so."

Mac Caradang

Alaska USA Mortgage

Mac Carandang is a senior mortgage loan originator at Alaska USA Mortgage Company. She works with people on their mortgage needs, whether they are buying a new home or refinancing an existing property. As a full-service mortgage lender, Mac can provide loans for one- to four-unit homes and condominiums, owner-occupied or investment property. Her goal is to identify the best mortgage program for the property that fits the borrowers' needs, financial situation, and goals.

Mac has been in the mortgage business for more than eight years and has a total of 24 years in banking and financial services.

Alaska USA Mortgage Company prides itself on their excellent service and product knowledge. Alaska USA Mortgage Company offers a wide variety of mortgage loan programs including fixed and adjustable rate mortgages, first and second loan combinations, and other creative financing loan programs.

"As an Alaska USA originator, I need to know all loan programs available in the market in order to identify the best mortgage product for each borrower. This combination of service and knowledge means customers come back again and again-and refer their friends," Mac said.

"The biggest reward for me is meeting people. I love working with people and it feels good when I'm able to help them become homeowners, especially when it's their first home."

Charlene Schrader


Curves, a 30-minute fitness center for women where aerobic and strength training is accomplished, is owned by Charlene Schrader.

Charlene said Curves is unique because it is a fitness center for women she can watch them change their lives. She encourages other women to run their own businesses.

"Find something you like to do, make sure you have support and just do it," Charlene said.

Watching women get healthy, hearing their stories and getting to know unique and special women is what makes owning Curves special, Charlene said.

Honey Bee Anderson

Powell Real Estate

For almost 20 years the family that founded Powell Realty has shared their life vision with customers, friends and colleagues. Three generations have a personal vision that produces their growing success in business.

That vision is "honor God in all they do and make a positive difference in people's lives. They provide excellence in real estate and property management." Making a positive difference includes helping buyers and renters live their dream of buying their own home and being a good steward in marketing seller's property to reach their goals.

Janie Bee Powell founded the realty business in 1987. A year later she partnered with daughter Honey Bee Anderson to buy their current building on 9040 Glacier Highway. The third generation, TamBee, KimBee, DarBee and Erik have worked in the business. At age 83 Janie Bee is still feisty and focused on helping clients to make a positive difference in their lives. Southeast Board of Realtors named Honey Bee as Realtor of the Year in 2005 for her excellence.

Janie Bee Powell "Creating a vision for your passion in life is critical to run a successful business. Without vision and clear purpose for life, people perish. Your vision will drive and empower you to achieve your passion," Honey Bee said. "Powell Realty also pursues excellence and profitability to help people, thus generously sowing back into our community and our church family."

Their purpose driven life makes them unique. Whether in personal relationships or business, the same vision drives them - honoring God in ways that provide a positive difference for all who are touched. They do all business with personal excellence, firm ethics and reliable integrity, qualities rare enough in business today. In addition they supply extravagant love and service expecting signs and wonders from God.

Their biggest reward is probably different from many businesses for profitability is goal number four in their vision. It follows honoring God, making a positive difference for people and pursuing excellence.

"We are rewarded by doing what we love and fulfilling the Kingdom of God in our lives," Honey Bee said.

Lilly Killbear

Made In The Shade

Lilly Killbear owns and runs Made in the Shade, an espresso and chai stand located in the foyer of Rainbow Foods Natural Foods Store. She serves all organic, fair trade, bird friendly coffee and fresh brewed chai, which is made from scratch.

The coffee is roasted locally and delivered bi-weekly to insure freshness, by Juanita's coffee roasters.

Lilly said advice she would give to other women who would like to run their business would be, "Do your homework first. Create a business plan and check your demographics first. Better to start and succeed, than to fail. Ask for help from all available resources."

Made in the Shade stands out because of the all organic coffee, milks, sugars and chai.

"You are never served coffee more than a couple of days old. Also our chai is made from scratch, with organic ingredients then brewed overnight in a crock-pot," Lilly said.

Lilly said the biggest reward of owning her own business sis setting an example for her daughters and son.

"Letting them know it is possible to be self-made," Lilly said. "Also the opportunity to inspire other Alaskan Native women to branch out and succeed."

Anji Gallanos

The Creating Place

The Creating Place is a studio for children where they can open up their minds, express themselves and have a great time. The venue provides art materials, some open-ended instruction and kids bring their creativity. The activities at The Creating Place are age appropriate and focus on process not the product.

There are workshops for kids, ongoing classes and birthday parties, as well as a small retail shop that carries unique children's art supplies and gifts.

"Owning a business is possible. A lot of work but possible. It's important to know where the resources are for small businesses.

"Having support from friends or families is invaluable," said owner Anji Gallanos.

The Creating Place offers a place for kids to come, create and socialize while developing important skills.

"As a mom I have loved all the opportunities my own children have in this city. I think The Creating Place fills a niche for families looking to give kids a full range of experiences," Gallanos said.

"I think being able to involve my own children in the business is very valuable. It is incredibly rewarding to have them with me and involved in the business.

"They love sharing their ideas, helping to set up and participate. Having the flexibility to do something I love and have my kids with me is the greatest reward."

Vicky R. Johnson

Vicky's Joke Shop

Vicky's Joke Shop, owned and operated by Vicky R. Johnson, is a unique story that offers a lot of toys children wanted from the comic books back in the day.

Vicky said to own a business one must be determined and focused and be ready for long hours and much work.

"We offer laughter for all ages. It keeps us older ones young at heart," Vicky said.

She said the biggest reward from being a woman-run business is a sense of being useful to the community.

"It gives me a sense of accomplishment in my golden years," Vicky said.

Shayla Lewis & Jolene Blackwell

Seventh Heaven

Seventh Heaven is a full-service day spa offering a variety of personal services including massage, skin care, natural manicures and pedicures, body treatments, hydrotherapy, yoga and much more.

The people at Seventh Heaven strive to create a relaxing and ambient atmosphere for our clients to escape in, by offering an esthetically pleasing facility and serene view of the Mendenhall River. They strive to offer natural treatments that are good for the body and mind as well as calm the senses.

Seventh Heaven offers a steam machine treatment and an aromatherapy Jacuzzi tub as hydrotherapy services, and these are therapeutic for the body in many different ways.

These services, combined with massage or other treatments, complete the spa exercise as a whole.

Seventh Heaven is currently undergoing a major change as owner Barbara Johns has retired and moved down south to Whidbey Island.

She has left her business in the hands of her managers, Shayla Lewis and Jolene Blackwell.

Shayla and Jolene will be purchasing the business from Barbara within the next year. They are striving to continue the growth that Barbara has set in motion since she started the business in 1996.

Now that Seventh Heaven is celebrating its ten-year anniversary, it sees nothing but growth on the horizon.

Shayla and Jolene are proud to be part of Seventh Heaven and serving the community of Juneau with quality spa services.

M'Iva Rickey

Crystal Clear Communications

Crystal Clear Communications is a full service advertising agency and public relations firm.

Owned and operated by M'Iva Rickey, the business creates radio, television and print and coordinate those aspects of educating and moving public opinion for clients their products and services.

The firm also designs and coordinates various functions for clients and the non - profits that we assist. Trade shows, auctions, open houses and fundraisers also are included among our field of expertise.

Crystal Clear Communications has a phenomenal body of work to its credit. Many accolades and awards have been bestowed upon the business.

Most of the working group and clients have been with us for nearly two decades because we truly respect all that are involved in the process.

This vision has brought success to the clients as well as to Crystal Clear Communications.

Since 1988 we have been helping clients with the many and varied needs they have brought. An important aspect of success is always knowledge and compassion.

A bright mind and a willingness to go the extra mile when needed is a proven path for long-term relationships with clients.

Bobbi Epperly

The Art Department

Bobbi Epperly owns The Art Department, Juneau's comprehensive fine art supply store that offers items such as watercolor, oil and acrylic paints, drawing supplies, pastels, easels, tables, children's art materials and much, much more. The Art Department also offers a "do-it-yourself" matting and framing service where staff will cut your mat and order your frame, but you take it home and put it all together.

Bobbi said she would tell other women pursuing business to dive in, but be aware that it takes a long time for a business to become profitable.

"You may not be able to take a paycheck home every month. Owning your own business can be very rewarding and exciting, but it's easy to get frustrated and discouraged. Always look toward the future of your business, and learn from the mistakes made in the past," Bobbi said.

The Art Department now offers family portrait photography through Pietan Photography, which offers "chromakey/green screen" technology that allows for multiple backgrounds to be used for the same picture. Check out the Web site at

Bobbie said the biggest reward in having her own business is the ability to be a "stay at home mom" with her 8-month-old son.

"I bring him to work, take him with me to run my errands and only take him to a babysitter if I need to fill a shift," Bobbi said. "I take my work home with me and finish what needs to be done in between his naps. Oh, and being my own boss is great!"

Lauren MacVay

True North FCU

True North FCU is a not-for-profit financial cooperative, and is the oldest Federal Credit Union in Alaska.

Owned by Lauren MacVary, True North FCU has more than $80 million in assets and serves members throughout the state with particular focus on consumer and real estate lending.

Lauren said her advice to women (and men) who want to own or run a business is to look for something to learn everyday.

"Subscribe to magazines, read business and management books, find informative websites, and take time every day to read something. One of the things I love most about my job as CEO is that I am always in a state of discovery and learning. It ensures that I never get bored, and that I never grow complacent about the business," Lauren said.

Lauren also suggested getting involved in community projects such as to volunteer for a non-profit, to join Rotary or to take some other step to get more involved outside of business.

"It's a win, win for all involved. Not long after becoming CEO, I joined Glacier Valley Rotary and have found it to be a great source of information about the things that affect our membership," Lauren said.

"Plus, it's a great way to have fun while doing something good for the community."

The credit union industry is unique in that it is member-owned with a volunteer board and committee members.

"So, my ultimate bosses are the members - the people to whom we provide financial services. It adds a unique twist to that old business adage that 'the customer is always right,'" Lauren said.

"My biggest reward in running a business is working in a team setting with dynamic people, and watching the staff members evolve and succeed. I don't know if I would enjoy being the boss as much if I worked in a sole proprietorship or small shop."

Colleen Sullivan

First American Title

Colleen Sullivan has managed First American Title Insurance Company for eight years. She said her advice for running a business is to lead by example and have a good sense of humor.

The First American Corporation is the nation's leading provider of business information. Tracing its history to 1889, First American continues its commitment to service by providing the information resources businesses need to make timely and accurate decisions. Backed by industry-leading technology systems, First American delivers efficiency to support your business information needs.