9 Mom-Owned Businesses in NYC

Check out these 9 Mom Bosses in NYC. They started their businesses by identifying a niche or finding a different way to solve a problem, and now their businesses are thriving.
Written by
Jennifer Chu
Published on
May 1, 2024

There are 45,000 mom-owned businesses in NYC

There are 456,000 small businesses in NYC. Women owned businesses make up approximately 23% of that number, and an additional 8.7% are co-owned by male-female owners1 — that’s 144,600 businesses that are owned by women in NYC.

31% of women entrepreneurs have school-aged children2 — translating to 44,826 mom-owned businesses in NYC.

Spotlighting a few NYC Businesses Started By Moms

I put together a short list of mom-owned NYC businesses that are loved by locals. The keyword here is short. By no means is this list exhaustive. I just wanted to take a moment to celebrate mompreneurs and mom bosses ahead of Mother's Day, whether they are on this list or not. This list is based on the businesses I've personally experienced or which have come highly recommended by other NYC moms.

Sarah Liu and Yufei Hsu: Ya Ya Preschool

Sarah Liu, founder of Ya Ya Preschool, with her children
Source: Mandarin Seeds

Sarah Laoshi (as students and parents call her) started Mandarin Seeds in 2008, when she had trouble finding “fun” Mandarin programs for her young daughter.  Unlike the dreaded Saturday Chinese schools most ABCs (American Born Chinese) attend, Mandarin Seeds used music and singalongs (think Suzuki method for Chinese) as the foundation for learning.

Mandarin Seeds has since evolved into Ya Ya Preschool, run by Sarah and business partner/parent, Yufei Hsu. Ya Ya is a 100% Mandarin-immersive, play-based program for 3K and PreK students. I can say firsthand that teachers are so caring and nurturing; students (including non-native speakers) all understand, if not speak proficiently, Mandarin; and the kids love their time there.

Ya Ya Preschool is a great example of one founder tapping into a niche within a global world.

Lindsay Peers: The Craft Studio

Lindsay Peers and her family at The Craft Studio
Source: The Craft Studio

I don’t know a single mom in NYC who hasn’t heard of The Craft Studio. Either you’ve dropped in on a class to paint ceramics or attended a birthday party doing another one of the main craft projects they offer.  It’s on its way to becoming an institution of NYC, if it isn’t already.

Lindsey started working at The Craft Studio as a 19-year old college student, fell in love with the place, and worked out a plan to purchase the studio from then owner.  She now has three locations in Manhattan and is the mother of three children. But during hard times, when she was struggling to save her business, she learned that she’s just one person.

“If I am on a work call and the kids are playing solo for a moment, that is ok. If I decide to drop everything and take the kids to the park for an hour, that is ok too. I used to get so caught up with people seeing me with my kids and wondering why I wasn’t at one of my stores... or being at work and people judging me for not being with my kids. I have let all that go... I want to look back on these years and think... however hard it was, I wasn’t too stressed to see the beauty of what was in front of me and take it in.” -- Lindsay in her interview with Pink Chicken3

Zanele Suttle: Super Duper Tennis

Zani learned to play tennis at the age of four. She later competed nationally, earning a full tennis scholarship to Syracuse University. After working in the corporate world for ten years, Zani Suttle left to embark on two back-to-back feats: giving birth to a little girl and then launching an after-school tennis program a year later focusing on kids aged 3 to 10.

To make her lessons accessible and affordable in congested cities like NYC, Super Duper Tennis uses non-conventional spaces such as parks and school gyms. They use teaching techniques like mini-tennis, supported and developed by the USTA, and executes them in a fun and positive way. She hires coaches who must both play tennis and truly love working with children4 — I can attest that their staff cares about what they do while also getting kids to love and learn the sport.

Super Duper Tennis has locations in NYC, New Jersey and Copehagen.

Heidi Green: Heidi Green Photography

As a pre-school teacher and bored of the generic studio photos offered by most schools, Heidi Green began taking candid shots of her students in class.  Demand from parents soared, and Heidi started her photography business in 2006.  Instead of the awkwardly staged photos offered by most schools, Heidi photographed children in their natural states — outside in the park or in their homes and naturally playing or interacting with their families5.

Heidi is now mom to twins and has been praised by customers like Jeff Zucker, President of CNN, who uses Heidi for all of his family’s milestone events.

Molly Barkan and Jennifer Meltzer Geller: HiveDrive

Two busy moms commiserated over the all too familiar pain of pickups and drop-offs. Together, they built an app to help families find safe and easy carpool solutions. Moms create a “hive” of parents and children, and members of the hive can initiate ride requests, claim rides,  message in-app and get notified when rides are completed.

HiveDrive launched in 2023 and is free at the moment.

Melanie Zrihen and Hanne Larsen: Downtown Dance Factory

Downtown Dance Factory Founders: Melanie and Hanne
Source: Tribeca Alliance

Melanie hailed from Montreal, Hanne from Sydney. They met in Tribeca as parents of children who attended the same pre-school.  Both with a background in dance, they were unable to find a dance studio for their kids and so started up Downtown Dance Factory (DDF) in 20096.

Since then, they’ve had thousands of students; won numerous awards; sent alumni to the Ailey/Fordham BFA Program, Boston Conservatory and other renowned dance colleges; and recently had one dancer perform as Marie in the NYC Ballet’s Nutcracker at Lincoln Center.

What I also love about them is that during the final performance each year, they allow older dancers to help the younger dancers on stage, fostering leadership development for the more seasoned and inspiration for the little ones.

Liv Woudstra-Robinson: Trufflin’

Liv grew up in the South of France in a village near Avignon, a region famous for producing truffles. In fact, her mom Anna, with the help of their dog DeeDee, would search for black truffles7.

When Liv met Cornelius on the NYC restaurant scene, the two joined forces, in  both marriage and business, and started Trufflin in 2013. It took years of hustling door-to-door before they were able to secure Michelin starred restaurants like Le Bernadin and Eleven Madison Park. Now, they have a toddler and a new-born. And a thriving online business, where they sell truffle-infused oil, sriracha, and salt as well caviar.

Source: Liv Woudstra Robinson Instagram

Divya Gugnani: Wander Beauty

Many beauty routines are a multi-step process that can take up to 15 minutes.  For Divya, then a working mom with two kids (now three), those steps took up more time than she had, likely  with the morning and bedtime routines of her children. She and her cofounder, Lindsay Ellingson, started Wander Beauty to simplify the beauty routine. Against the guidance of others, they launched with just one product — a risky path, where feedback is limited to a single product and there’s no way to hedge losses should that product fail.

Staying true to their value proposition — using fewer, multi-use products — paid off. Wander Beauty is now sold in Sephora, Nordstroms and other nation-wide retailers.

Source: Divya Gugnani Instagram

Leandra Medine Cohen: The Cereal Aisle

Source: Leandra M Cohen Instagram

Leandra is a multi-talented writer and mother of two (with a baby on the way). You may have heard of her first blog, Man Repeller, which she started while in college.  She came to be known for her distinct, “it’s good to be a little weird” style. She’s astute to the history of fashion and trends while having a sixth sense for the new designers to pay attention to. She so eloquently breaks down style elements and reconstructs them in her own way, but she’s also hilarious and unfiltered about it. She intersperses her own revelations as a mother, and feature other mothers in NYC and their dress routines.

To me, Leandra has successfully transcended the typical fashion influencer. Yes, she has 1.2 million followers on Instagram. But, she’s also got multiple revenue streams through different mediums. For one, she created a newsletter, “The Cereal Aisle”, that has 119K subscribers; tens of thousands of them pay ~$5/month — you do the math. She’s done collaborations with Net-a-Porter and many jewelry and fashion brands (Souer, Wilhemina Garcia, La DoubleJ are a few recent ones). She also gets sales commissions through affiliate links on her website and within her newsletter for the products she recommends and customers buy.

Conclusion

There are so many mom-owned businesses in NYC — the ones listed above are a drop in the bucket. I do love though, in these examples, that the founders know exactly who their niche is and what their brands represent; and they leverage their own unique skills to make their businesses successful.

To all mompreneurs and mom bosses, Happy Mother’s Day!‍

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How a Global World Creates Niche Opportunities

Citations

1 Thee Office of Budget and Policy Analysis in New York, " Economic and Policy Insights: New York StateBusiness Owners", March 2024, [PDF]

2 Gabrielle Carpenter, "Small Business Statistics in 2024", NAWBO site, March 6, 2024 [Website]

3 Erin Farley, “Introducing: the Craft Studio”, Pink Chicken, September 30, 2020 [Website]

4 Rachel Stuhlman, "Toss Up Vol 4 - Zani Suttle Grows Program Using Non Conventional Spaces for Kids Tennis", youtube.com, May 29, 2018 [Video]

5 Heidi Green Website, heidigreen.com

6 Simranjit Kaur, “Downtown Dance Factory”, tribecaalliance.com, July 31, 2019

7 Liv, “The Forager”, eatdarlingeat.com, December 18, 2017

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