International Women’s Day 2021: Meet The Female Founders Who Are Transforming Wisconsin

Madison, Wis. (March 3, 2021) – This year’s International Women’s Day (March 8, 2021) celebrates women who #ChooseToChallenge — the type of woman with which Wisconsin is filled. From outdoor adventure to craft beer, from wellness to cheesemaking, female founders are transforming the state from the inside out. Below, learn the origin stories of just a few Wisconsin (super)women who are making history, 365 days a year.

Outdoors Woman: Dr. Christine Thomas

Her Story:  A lifelong outdoors adventurer, Dr. Christine Thomas has devoted the past 30 years to showcasing the “roots and romance” of the natural world to women all over the country. in 1991, she founded the Becoming an Outdoors-Woman (BOW) program, an educational outreach program at University of Wisconsin Stevens Point. Today, tens of thousands of women in more than 40 states (and six Canadian provinces) step outside each year to learn new outdoor skills in a safe, supportive environment.

Learn More: www.uwsp.edu/cnr-ap/bowWI/Pages/default.aspx

Wild Wellness: Heidi Zimmer

Her Story: Heidi Zimmer started with a dream — to create a one-of-a-kind wellness retreat on the scenic shores of Lake Superior. In May 2021, that dream will become a reality, when Wild Rice Retreat welcomes its first guests. Located just outside of Bayfield, Wisconsin, the gateway to Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, Wild Rice is the Midwest’s first all-inclusive wellness retreat. Rooted in the idea of exploring and supporting expression in nature, Wild Rice Retreat offers a home for healing guided, personal and group retreats, meeting space, and events following the pillars of nourishment, expression, and movement.

Learn More: www.wildriceretreat.com

Creative Collaboration: The Bronzeville Collective

Their Story: The voices of Milwaukee’s Black, Brown and Queer creatives had few outlets in which to share their work — until the Bronzeville Collective came along. Launched by Lilo Allen, Tiffany Miller, Tomira White and Jasmine Barmore, this collaborative storefront offers everything from homemade candles and soaps, to jewelry and handmade art. Located in the Historic Bronzevill Arts and Culture District, almost everything in this vibrant space is either handcrafted or designed by Black and Brown Creatives.

Learn More: https://www.bronzevillecollective.com

Together We Rise: Shelia Payton

Her Story: For more than two decades, Milwaukee’s Shelia Payton has been helping people connect with Black owned businesses. Payton’s Wisconsin Black Pages is an invaluable resource, each issue filled with details on the latest and greatest Black owned shops and services. Beyond that, the directory includes vital info for the community, including voting guides, civic engagement opportunities and much more.

Learn More: https://www.tmj4.com/lifestyle/black-history-month/wisconsin-black-pages-connects-people-with-black-owned-businesses

Good As Gouda: Marieke Penterman

Her Story: Born and raised in the Netherlands on a 60-cow dairy farm, Marieke Penterman has cheesemaking in her DNA. So it makes sense that she’d make it to Wisconsin — Dairyland, USA — sooner or later. Combining Old World know-how with classic Wisconsin techniques, Marieke is the founder of Marieke Gouda in Thorpe, WI, where she creates authentic Dutch Gouda Cheese. She’s a true pioneer; while there are 1,200 licensed cheese makers in Wisconsin, only 60 of them are women. To address this disparity, Marieke has worked to employ, empower and train a new generation of Wisconsin women cheesemakers.

Learn More: https://mariekegouda.com

Kringle Queen: Margaret Ebeling

Her Story: “Wisconsin would be a darker place without its own cream liqueur,” proclaims Margaret Ebeling. Truer words were never spoken. Kringle Cream is a Puerto Rican rum-based liqueur produced with Wisconsin cream and blended to taste like kringle, the Danish sweet designated in 2013 as Wisconsin’s official state pastry. When the Kringle Cream brand was threatened with bankruptcy a few years back, Ebeling’s Madison-based Nordic Distillers (of which she is the founder and sole employee) stepped up to save it. Her rescue operation was a success — and now, Ebeling’s business card deservedly identifies her as the “Kringle Queen.”

Learn More: https://kringlecream.com

The New Brew: Deborah Carey

Her Story: Deborah Carey and her husband Daniel co-founded New Glarus Brewing Co. in 1993, kicking off a beloved (and fiercely independent) craft beer kingdom that continues to this day. As Founder and President of “One of the Top Ten Breweries in the World” she does everything—except brew the beer! But New Glarus has always been about more than just beer (though make no mistake, the beer is phenomenal). Carey has worked to transform the brewery into a sustainable, eco-friendly operation from top to bottom, investing hundreds of thousands of dollars in energy-efficient lighting, refrigeration, compressors and pumps.

Learn More: https://newglarusbrewing.com

Milwaukee Food Guru: Theresa Nemetz

Her Story: Food was a passion for Theresa Nemetz — but she never thought it would turn into a career. But during a trip to NYC, destiny called when she and her husband took a food tour. Afterwards, she realized that their hometown of Milwaukee had more than enough of a diverse culinary scene to do something similar. And so, Milwaukee Food Tours was born. Today, Theresa and her team showcase the city’s rich Italian, German, Irish and Polish immigrant history, sharing the stories and flavors of the exceptional immigrants that brought Milwaukee to life.

Learn More: www.milwaukeefoodtours.com

Farm To Fork: Christy McKenzie

Her Story: For Christy McKenzie, food and community are inextricably linked. And it’s that belief that led her to create Pasture and Plenty, a combination restaurant, test kitchen, market and home delivery service that provides ready-to-eat meals and meal kits. Working closely with more than 30 local farms, ranchers and bakers, the Madison-based outfit has been a key connector between producers and consumers — especially during the pandemic of the past year. “I think it’s important to highlight and amplify the work of other businesses,” she says. “We all move farther and faster when we do it together.”

Learn More: https://pastureandplenty.com