Ladies Who Launch

Startups by 3 Superwomen:The women of the North Shore are amazing. Mibs found three with the vision and confidence to launch new hometown businesses in the face of a recession.


We believe these ladies who launch will help save NorthShore business districts, and we’re proud to introduce these high-heeled super-heroines:

Bam! Theresa Lucas had the chutzpah to launch a Glencoe champagne and wine boutique in the middle of a plunging economy.

Poof! Melissa VanPopering, the Fairy Godmother with cajones, quit her medical malpractice law job to open an old-fashioned toy store in Glenview. Bad economy? She won’t let kids go without toys.

Pow! René Caputo and daughter Trina can’t make their Lake Forest coffee shop Mon Café (231 E. Wisconsin Ave., Lake Forest) work, so they are expanding. What are they thinking? An Italian deli, with premium coffee, of course, that will open in August.

These wonder women are the catalysts, encouraging other businesses to fill storefronts scarred with “for rent” and “for lease” signs.

launch_0002_goodgrapesTheresa Lucas
“I told my dad what I was planning and he said ‘What? Do you know there’s a recession?” says Lucas, whose Good Grapes store is smaller than some North Shore closets. Lucas resembles many of today’s main street wonder women: She’s a full-time technology manager by day, and an entrepreneur by night. “Six weeks after I opened, two stores closed across the street,” she says. They’re still empty.

“Women are going into business because they have lost their jobs, they fear losing their jobs or their spouses have lost their jobs,” says Hedy Ratner, founder of the Women’s Business Development Center. Interest in starting businesses is on the upswing.



launch_0001_fairygodmotherThe challenge is getting capital, enough to grow a business, according to Michael A. Marasco, director of Northwestern University’s Farley Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation.

Melissa VanPopering
Fairy Godmother VanPopering grabbed the weak economy and used it to negotiate lease deals for her Wishes Toy Wonderland (885 Tower Rd., Glenview, 847-657-9474). The mother of three kids between the ages of 6 and 10 is already aiming to expanding into locations left empty by companies that go out-of-business.

VanPopering focuses on toys that adults remember, from Silly Putty to wooden blocks.

René Caputo
launch_0000_caputoCaputo’s Lake Forest coffee shop expansion is a good bet. Since she and her husband founded the cheese manufacturer Wiscon, which makes Caputo brand cheeses, 34 years ago, they have grown into a corporation.

Want to jump on the entrepreneurial bandwagon yourself? Check out these links to get started: