Norwalk bakery hosts women-owned business popup on International Women’s Day

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Real estate developer Jason Milligan transformed the Isaac Street Parking lot into Isaac Square Art Park where canvases with fresh murals were displayed Friday, April 9, 2020,in Norwalk, Conn.

Erik Trautmann / Hearst Connecticut Media

NORWALK—Rebel Daughter Cookies just opened its storefront on Isaacs Street in February, but is already giving back to the Norwalk community by hosting a pop-up event Tuesday celebrating the area’s female business owners.

In honor of International Women’s Day, annually celebrated on March 8, Rebel Daughter owner Anne Grossman organized the pop-up event. The event, at 21 Isaacs St., will include vendors and stalls from more than 30 women-owned businesses in Fairfield County, Grossman said.

A total of 32 businesses will be represented, including baked goods, drinks, clothing, event planning and others.

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The idea came naturally since uplifting other women is a core tenant of Grossman’s business. Rebel Daughter Cookies opened three years ago, but Grossman established her first storefront in Norwalk Center in February.

“The first thing I discovered is how many challenges were in place not only for working mothers but businesses in general,” Grossman said. “There wasn’t a lot of information or support. I vowed I would help women in any way I could.”

In her store, Grossman rents the commercial kitchen space on weekends and weeknights to other local female-owned businesses, including Lindsay’s Handmade Ice Cream, which began in 2020.

A long-term goal of Grossman’s is to set up an area in her store displaying other women’s products, along with a picture of the business owner and some background information. In displaying and selling other women-owned business’ products, Grossman said she doesn’t plan to charge any cost for selling or hosting their wares.

Like her marketplace plan, Grossman requested no fee or charge for vendors of Tuesday’s event.

“I thought, if I’ve got this great parking lot and the landlord is supportive, I can host this event for women on International Women’s Day,” Grossman said. “To give them exposure and promote female entrepreneurs and small businesses we have in the area, to buy their goods and introduce them to these small businesses they might not have heard of.”

The event will begin at 12:30 p.m., shortly after Grossman finishes her baking for the day, and run until 4 p.m.

Recognizing the time span may be inconvenient for some shoppers in the area, Grossman said if the event is a success, she’d be open to offering other similar events on weekends or during the summer. However, she said she is wary of oversaturating the consumer base.

“We’re ending at 4 (p.m.) because we don’t want people there when it’s getting dark and cold,” Grossman said. “It doesn’t cost anyone admission or to be a vendor. If people have interest, it’d be wonderful to do. I want to make it an annual event because it’s been so popular, but I don’t want to take away from the event.”

Many of the vendors were recruited by Grossman through the Fairfield County women-owned business community, Grossman said. Female entrepreneurs in the area often connect for advice and events.

Among the women recruited through the small business grapevine was The Vintage Horse mobile bartending service.

Owned and operated by married couple Jen and Eddie Milano, The Vintage Horse opened in May 2021 and will attend Tuesday’s event.

Jen Milano is the face of the operation while her husband, Eddie, manages the behind-the-scenes work such as inventory. Though based out of Trumbull, The Vintage Horse’s mobile bar setup allows the Milanos to travel where they’re needed.

Milano first connected with Grossman through social media and was asked to join the pop-up event around the Christmas and New Year’s holidays, she said.

“I said ‘Absolutely. Sign me up,’” Milano said of the invite. “I love being a part of other women in business and I think it’s so amazing to see. When I started my journey of running my own business, I never thought I’d get this community behind me.”

Since her first gig in mid-May 2021, Milano and The Vintage Horse hosted 48 events in the succeeding six months.

“It exceeded anything I thought it’d ever be,” Milano said. “The pandemic was in my favor because a lot of people were doing outdoor events and backyards. My business thrived during this pandemic.”

At Tuesday’s event, The Vintage Horse will be offering samples of a blueberry mint lemonade, as well as full classes available for purchase.

Milano admitted she was nervous for what Tuesday would bring, but excited, nonetheless.

“I don’t know what to expect. I’ve seen so many people share the event and talk about it,” Milano said. “I think it is really exciting to see how many women have been so successful in running their companies and I’m a mom of two. It’s amazing we are able to do all this.”

The comprehensive list of vendors at Tuesday’s event can be found on Rebel Daughter Cookies’ social media pages.

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