LIMA — Finalists for the Lima/Allen County Chamber of Commerce Woman-owned Business of the Year award include a Bluffton promotional products company, an ophthalmologist practice in Lima and a Delphos clothing boutique.
Melinda Bowden founded this company 20 years ago, leaving her full-time job with a Bluffton printing company to start her own venture. Though Bowden was pregnant at the time, she was ready to branch out on her own. She credits her 20 years in business to perseverance.
“I don’t consider myself a salesperson,” she said, “because when I hear the word sales, I think of a pushy salesperson. I like to think that my job is helping people; finding what works for them and taking care of their orders so they don’t have to worry about it.”
PromoHits specializes in customized promotional products, like company branded drink coolers or backyard games. Bowden says she sells much more than just branded pens and coffee cups.
Today, PromoHits has pivoted to selling personal protective equipment, hand sanitizer and thermometers, all of which are in high demand amid the coronavirus pandemic. And Bowden is expanding her third-party fulfillment business, producing customized mailers for businesses and universities to stay in touch with their customers offline.
She’s also dedicated 5% of her total product sales to charity since 2019.
Dr. Ann Rea Miller opened this practice in 2014 at the urging of a retired ophthalmologist. She was pregnant with her first son at the time, but within two weeks of purchasing an empty building Miller was ready to see patients.
The optometry practice offers comprehensive eye exams, eye health evaluations and even infant eye exams.
To fend off competition from Walmart, Miller focuses on quality merchandise rather than trying to sell the cheapest contact lenses and glasses on the market. Her practice carries handmade and customizable frames, for example, so customers won’t have to worry about having the same pair of glasses as someone else.
“Our patients are not just a number that goes through,” she said. “We’re truly caring for them and knowing them as people, not just as a patient.”
Like most other private practices, Visual Eyes was open for emergency appointments only while Ohio’s stay-at-home order was in effect. But now that routine care has resumed, things are slowly returning to normal.
Victorian Rose Boutique
Vicky Kayser fulfilled a lifelong dream in August 2018 when she opened this women’s fashion boutique in Delphos.
Kayser fondly recalls visiting her grandparents at Andreoni’s Confectionery, the old-fashioned soda fountain founded by Kayer’s great-grandparents, Victor and Alvina, in downtown St. Marys. Here, Kayser learned old-fashioned customer service. So after 30-plus years in retail, Kayser decided to open her own store in downtown Delphos.
What started as Victorian Rose, which specializes in women’s clothing and accessories, has since grown with the addition of a junior’s line, Blooming Rose, in February. Kayser hopes to one day launch Rose Bud, a line of special occasion wear for babies.
Kayser finds joy in helping women feel confident and beautiful. The opportunity to help downtown Delphos grow is an added benefit.
“I’m not doing it to retire and have a million-dollar home,” she said. “I’m doing it because it makes me feel good.”
The Lima/Allen County Chamber of Commerce will hold its annual awards gala from 6-8 p.m. Wednesday, June 10, in the Lima Community Church parking lot, 2945 N. Cole St. Tickets are $20 for members and $25 for non-members. Awards and dinner will be served drive-in style.