As we open our season with the musical Little Women based on the beloved Louisa May Alcott novel, we were inspired by Jo March who followed her dreams to the career and life she wanted. So we decided to celebrate some local women who also had the courage and strength to follow their dreams. 

These are determined women who mean business.


Meet Jessie Senglaub, owner of Birch & Banyan Coffee in downtown Hartland.

[LCP]: What advice would you give to young women who want to succeed in the workplace or start their own businesses?
[JESSIE]: Every woman starting a business feels like she needs to be Wonder Woman and accomplish everything on her own. That's just not realistic. Helm the ship, be in charge, give direction. But at the same time it doesn't diminish your accomplishments to ask for help. Starting a business often means taking advice and help from people that have skills you may not always have.

What was your dream job as a kid and why?
Growing up I wanted to be either an architect or an author. I would draw my own home plans, and was always writing stories. I think what I liked was the idea of creating a world for someone to envelop themselves in, whether it was a fictional land or a cozy living room. My coffeeshop is something of a culmination of that - where I've put my story into a physical space that people can enjoy.


What do you think is the most significant barrier to female leadership?
External noise. Everything lately has to be making some sort of statement. Stop thinking about how you're coming across as a female leader, and just get your work done.

What woman/women inspire(s) you and why?
My peers. Women I know that are making strides in their careers and refuse to be held back by anything. 

What will be the biggest challenge for the generation of women behind you?
Balancing the professional and personal life has always been a challenge for working women, and I don't see that changing anytime soon. Not necessarily because of any societal barriers, but because of the pressure female entrepreneurs often put on themselves. That's something I'm learning as I go, as well.

Birch & Banyan is located at 150 E Capitol Drive, just west of Lake Country
Playhouse. Be sure to visit them for a pre-show snack!