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Women-Owned Businesses in Uptown

Meet the women leaders behind some of Uptown’s most popular businesses and experiences.

In honor of Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day, we are spotlighting several women-owned, women-led and women-inspired businesses in Uptown that are enhancing the economy, building community, and creating fun experiences for Uptown residents, employees and visitors alike. What are you waiting for? Get out and support Uptown’s female entrepreneurs this month and beyond!

Aerial CLT

After 10 years as a music teacher, Amy Tynan Chirico launched Aerial CLT in NoDa in 2013, shifting her teaching skills from the classroom to an aerial studio. In 2016, the popular aerial fitness studio moved to Fourth Ward across the street from the McColl Center and has been serving people of all ages and fitness levels in Uptown since. Start your aerial journey while gaining strength and flexibility in classes like aerial silks, trapeze, lyra, hammock, rope and more. Aerial CLT also offers parties, teacher training and a monthly subscription for on-demand flexibility classes. The side of the building serves as the canvas for a beautiful 140-foot mural designed by artist Nick Napoletano that features the faces of seven local women, representing the area’s diversity.

Charlotte NC Tours, Charlotte Joy Rides, Intown Charlotte e-Delivery Service

If you haven’t met Dianna Ward yet, you’re probably familiar with one of the several local businesses she’s behind. After a successful corporate career, she shifted her focus to investing in the local community beginning with the launch of Charlotte NC Tours, the city’s only full-service tour company, in 2009. Charlotte NC Tours offers Segway, bike, walking and ghost tours as well as team-building activities. Then in 2012, she led the introduction of bike-sharing to Charlotte with nonprofit Charlotte B-cycle, which was reintroduced as Charlotte Joy Rides in 2020 with more than 300 pedal-assist e-bikes across 33 stations in and around Uptown. She also created InTown Charlotte e-Delivery Service using repurposed e-bikes from Charlotte Joy Rides and support from the Small Business Innovation Fund. The app-based service serves Uptown and surrounding areas. Users pay a reasonable mileage fee and transaction fee, and restaurants are charged $0 in commission and the delivery riders make a living wage. Ward is also one of the investors redeveloping the Five Points area in Historic West End.

CLT Find

Toni South and Christy Pope met at a pop-up shopping event eight years ago and quickly discovered they had a shared passion for “finding” locally sourced goods and highlighting local creators. South, who was operating Small Keys soap and skincare line, and Pope, who was selling her local children’s book, decided to join forces in 2017 to open CLT Find at The Market at 7th Street. The shop carries products from more than 90 makers in the Charlotte region. Their goal is to be a go-to boutique for locals and visitors to “find” the perfect gift, accessory or souvenir and to support artists and makers in the process.

Dry Nail Bar

Yelyzaveta Kryshtal (Lisa) and Daria Chystiukhina (Dasha) are household names for those who are regulars at Dry Nail Bar in Brevard Court in Uptown. The co-owners and nail artists opened the eco-friendly nail boutique in 2018. Dry Nail Bar specializes in natural nails with services like SNS dipping powder, vegan gel manicures, Gel-X nail extensions, pedicures and more.

It's Poppin! Gourmet Kettle Corn

Janelle Doyle moved from Pittsburgh to Charlotte in 2015 for her career in banking but her dream of becoming an entrepreneur led her to take the leap. She opened It’s Poppin! Gourmet Kettle Corn in The Market at 7th Street in 2017 and works with executive chef Desmon Milligan to create mouthwatering specialty flavors unlike anything you’ve ever tasted (think fried chicken, chicken and waffles, cookies and cream, and more). The flavorful kettle corn comes in more than 60 unique flavors and is perfect for celebrating special occasions, as a gift or a daily snack. They also offer a Kettle Corn Club, where you can receive two medium bags of featured flavors to your door each month.

Photo: Logan Cyrus

McNinch House Restaurant

Ellen Davis was a Charlotte, North Carolina native and purchased the historic Queen Anne-style home from the McNinch family in 1978, Davis spent a decade restoring the landmark. She opened the McNinch House Restaurant in January 1989, and – primarily as a self-taught cook – served as the restaurant’s first chef. She said at the time, “I’m living my dream.” The restaurant was her passion. Her legacy and impact within the Charlotte community will live on forever. The McNinch House is now owned and operated by DeeDee Clark and her husband, Ellen's nephew, Mitch Clark.

Photo: Amanda Harry/QCity Metro

My Story Cafe

Jacqueline Smith always dreamed of being an entrepreneur, but she never thought it would happen. When she moved to North Carolina, her plan was to buy a house. But things changed when she got the chance to rent a commercial space in Brevard Court. There, she opened My Story Cafe, her very own coffee shop.

Orrman's Cheese Shop

Owner/cheesemonger Rachel Klebaur and her husband José have owned and operated Orrman’s Cheese Shop in The Market at 7th Street for nearly 10 years. It started as a retail shop selling cheese, but they quickly added quirky and flavorful grilled cheese sandwich options and counter service. Rachel knows her cheeses — how to source them, how to pair them, how to present them and how to get people excited about them. Their space in the market is now about two times the size of when it opened, and they host weekly Raclette Nights, a favorite among locals.

Skyview Dentistry

Born in Ethiopia and raised in Charlotte, Seti Byrd, the owner of Skyview Dentistry in Uptown, launched her dental practice in 2016 with the goal of creating a high-tech luxury dental experience. When you arrive at Skyview, expect the VIP treatment. Guests are provided with blankets, a massage chair and access to Netflix with noise canceling headphones — all enjoyed with a skyline view.

Studio 229 on Brevard

Monique Douglas and husband Kevin opened Studio 229 on Brevard in early 2020 (right before the global pandemic hit), but they had no plans to give up. They were committed to bringing one of the last remaining buildings from the historic Brooklyn Community back to life. Studio 229 is not an ordinary studio — it’s a multipurpose space with multipurpose functions. It operates as a photography/videography studio, art gallery, performing arts space, community space, event space and the home of their branding consulting company CBK Branding.

What are some of your favorite women-owned businesses in Uptown? Share your favorite finds and experiences supporting Uptown’s female entrepreneurs on social media using the hashtag #UptownCLT and tagging @Uptown.CLT.

Happy Women’s HERstory Month!