Southern Indiana might conjure images of rolling farmland and charming small towns, but beneath the surface, a revolution is brewing – one led by women entrepreneurs. While history books document the achievements of the past, the future boasts a narrative yet to be penned, and it's women who are holding the quill. Let's explore the exciting chapters being written in the story of women in SoIN! 

Wine Shop New Albany

Women are claiming their space, amplifying their voices, and forging unique paths to success. While challenges and barriers still exist, women like the inspiring Lauren VanCleave, co-owner of New Albany’s Wine Shop, are navigating the business world with determination and resilience. Below, we hear from Lauren, whose journey showcases the power of different perspectives and experiences.

Who inspires you? 
While I believe firmly in being your own personal inspiration, I would be remiss not to mention the exceptional women in my life. These bold, courageous entrepreneurial women inspire me daily as they calculate in real time how their decisions impact not only their bottom line, but their community. These women inspire me as they always ensure there is a seat at the table for anyone who wants a seat, and then get back to building on to the table so there is always room for one more. They believe we are better together, and they actively work to ensure we are all connected. They look a lot like Carly Riggs and Robin Nance. They are my inspiration.

What unique experiences have you faced as a woman entrepreneur in your industry, and what exciting possibilities do you see for the future?
My entrepreneurial starting position was extremely privileged. I had a supportive family, a decent paying job, and over 30 years of connection to the community. This is so much more than many women who start a small business. That being said, even with all of that, securing funding was extremely difficult. More than once I had a male banker ask me if I had a “rich daddy” to cosign my business loan. I struggled with people directing conversations to my male business partner, rather than speaking directly to me. Luckily, I have thick skin and 15 years of experience in entrepreneurship, so I was able to navigate this and get our business open. While this was difficult, I’m seeing a shift. More and more women are talking about their experiences, and this connection is opening the door for mentorship in negotiation, business planning and strategy. Women are equipping other women with the tools they need to succeed, and this is EXCITING!

Wine Shop Lauren VanCleave

How will you commemorate Women's History Month within your business?
Wine Shop currently carries about 30% woman owned or made wines. This is every day. We are a woman owned business, and it is essential to our business values to showcase the amazing women out there changing the wine game. We also are collaborating with other woman owned businesses to create unique experiences for our guests. Make sure to follow our March events!

Share a message of encouragement to fellow women entrepreneurs, especially those starting their journey.
That feeling in your stomach is your intuition, trust it. And you NEVER have to give someone an answer on the spot. Take a beat, and get back to them when you are ready to answer. 

In your opinion, what local initiatives could further empower women-owned businesses in our community? 
I tap into Second Cup which is a series hosted by The Floyd County Library and The Root. Woman Owned Wallet which is Louisville owned, but one of the most exciting fun woman focused event pop ups ever. I hope to bring that level of energy and support to SoIN. 

What’s your perfect day in SoIN?
My day starts early since I drop my kiddos off at SLE. On a productive day, I like to meet up with a friend for a walk on the Greenway or get a Flat White at Mickey's Uptown Cafe. I might pop into the Floyd County Library to see what they are up to. I like to meet up with my business partner, Jason Searby, at Wine Shop for some planning, dreaming, and scheming before grabbing my kiddos.

Midday downtown New Albany is my favorite time to bump into friends and fellow business owners. I get so excited to stop and chat on the corner of Spring and Pearl about what we are all up to and where we could use help. There is something so special and exciting about that. My favorite nights are spent in community over a glass of wine, or something more intentional like Casual Ritual held by Guided Place. I am so fortunate to work next door to our great friends at Board & You Bistro and Pints&Union, so when we can pop out of the bar (we are still new business owners so we are at work a lot) we go see our friends there. 

If I am really feeling wild, I will pop into The Alcove in Jeff for one of the best margaritas in town. Pretty much my perfect day in SoIN is a day filled with connecting to my neighbors and community. 

Wine Shop New Albany

You can keep up with Lauren with the Wine Shop New Albany on their website

Women like Lauren are not just building businesses; they're building legacies, paving the way for future generations to dream bigger and reach higher. This is just a glimpse into the history yet to be made by women in Southern Indiana business. The chapters are waiting to be written, the stories waiting to be told. One thing is certain: the future is bright, and it's female-driven. It's time to turn the page and witness the her-story unfold, a testament to the power, resilience, and ambition of Southern Indiana's women entrepreneurs.

Meet more of Southern Indiana's women business leaders:

We’d love to hear your favorite women-owned businesses! Share their businesses and tag @gosoin on Facebook and Instagram!