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 Margrit Meier, owner of The Hartland Inn.
'The Hartland Inn originally operated as a hotel when Charles Hasslinger built the Commercial Hotel on northeast corner of Cottonwood Avenue and West Capitol Drive in 1907. It had 11 rooms available for guests.
Hasslinger sold the hotel in 1911 to the Pabst Brewing Co., bought it back in 1922 and sold it again in July 1923 to Leo Milski, who added a porch to the north side of the building.
The restaurant was remodeled in 1936, and the hotel operations were discontinued.
The Milski family retained ownership of the Commercial Hotel until 1946, when Leo's son, Walter, sold the restaurant to Frances and Ann Preston, who operated the restaurant under their name until 1967 when it was sold to Max and Margrit Meier.
Meier said one thing that stands out to her the most is that the second and third generations of families that patronized the inn when it first opened still regularly dine there.
"I'm glad I made it," she said. "It's not an easy business, and we had our ups and downs, but we're still here, and we still have a lot of wonderful people coming here.
"It's really wonderful to have all these people come in," she continued. "It's really like one big family."
Steven Martinez, Lake Country Now article, June 30, 2017
[LCP]: What advice would you give to young women who want to succeed in the workplace or start their own businesses?
[MARGRIT]: Success will come with hard work. I would tell other women looking to succeed to have a plan, set goals and then work hard to achieve them. Review your plan and goals often and adjust them as you need to. Challenges and obstacles may come up, but don’t get discouraged. If you make mistakes along the way it’s okay, you can learn from them. I would also encourage women to find a mentor and to look to other women for guidance.
What was your dream job as a kid and why?
As a child growing up in Switzerland I always told my mother that I wanted to own a hotel. I would look through magazines and would see pictures of hotels in gorgeous places and always dreamed of owning one.
What do you think is the most significant barrier to female leadership?
Women are often not taken as seriously as men in the work place. There is often the perception that women are less qualified for leadership positions then men. Overcoming these perceptions has been difficult for women looking to clime the ladder as well as those looking to hold board positions.
What woman/women inspire(s) you and why?
My mother has always been an inspiration in my life. I was one of thirteen children and my mother took care of all of us. She was an extremely strong woman who was always there for her children. My mother was the center of our family and I’ve always admired how much she did for her family and how unselfishly she gave to her children.
What will be the biggest challenge for the generation of women behind you?
Women continue to be underrepresented in top leadership roles. The next generation of women need to continue to stand together and have their voices heard.
The difference in the way the generations view “work” may also effect the passing of the torch to women in the generations to come.
The Hartland Inn is located at 110 Cottonwood Avenue, just southwest of Lake Country Playhouse.