More women than ever are owning their own businesses, data shows.
Ballston Spa, with its small-town feel, has a majority of women-owned and women-led businesses and nonprofits, according to the Ballston Spa Business and Professional Association (BSBPA).
The association estimated there are around 115 women-owned, co-owned or women-led businesses and nonprofits in the area. The BSBPA has 187 members total.
Dr. Michelle Burlingame, or “Dr. B,” as her patients call her, was fresh out of school in 2010 when she opened her orthodontics practice.
“I think it’s just such a welcoming and friendly town that it seems very inviting. And, like, ‘Hey, yes, I could open a business here, and I would get help and support doing it,’” Dr. Burlingame said. “Because it’s a small town and a small-town feel, if someone doesn’t know something, they’ll know someone who does or help you find the right direction.”
As a young doctor, she built her network and her reputation from scratch.
“We’d go to a meeting and people would chat with my husband instead of me, and he’d have to be like, ‘Oh, this is Dr. B.’ My husband will be like, ‘I don’t know anything about teeth,’” she said with a laugh.
But, Burlingame said, it feels like the women who lead businesses in Ballston Spa all know and support each other. One of those women is Krystle Nowhitney Hernandez. She leads the nonprofit LifeWorks Community Action, helping low-income families with the goal of reducing poverty in Saratoga County.
“As I look around, there are so many talented and passionate women business owners,” Hernandez said.
Hernandez began as an intern, going on to start the Latino Community Advocacy Program with her mother. After attending Stanford University, she moved back to the community that raised her.
“I think that Ballston Spa has a really caring community, and community of support, and that’s one of the reasons that I decided to come back,” she said.
As women, it can be hard to balance life and work. She said understanding that struggle has made her a stronger leader, especially at an organization dedicated to supporting local women.
“Women are often the primary caretakers, whether it’s for children or even later on, for aging parents, so I think that’s a challenge, but it also brings perspective to work as well and how we lead our organizations,” Hernandez said.