Fort Worth female-owned businesses grow, starting on West Vickery

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Cowtown Clay, founded in 2019, is one of the many female-owned businesses located in Fort Worth.

By Ella Gibson

Fort Worth female-owned businesses are flourishing, and a business strip located on West Vickery Boulevard is proving just that.

Local businesses Cowtown Clay, Lila + Hayes and Cowtown Kids Art Studio all share similar stories. Not only are these companies architecturally connected, but they are owned and operated by women and by mothers.

Small businesses are a necessary piece to Fort Worth’s growing economy, as customers are encouraged to shop locally.

These three businesses have experienced loyalty within the Fort Worth clientele and have become an integral part of the community of female-owned businesses.

Glenn Hegar, an attorney and Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts, outlines the national position that Texas holds in female-owned businesses. 

“Texas ranks third among all states for women-owned businesses, boasting nearly 1 million,” said Hegar.

In the past two decades, this statistic has grown by 156%.

The growing number of female-owned businesses is due to companies like these making an impact on the community and paving the way for other aspiring female entrepreneurs.

Cowtown Clay

Cowtown Clay is a clay impressions studio that opened in January 2019.

Owned by Lindsay Minor and Kellie Wright, Cowtown Clay specializes in ceramic hands and footprints of kids and pets. 

Minor and Wright were high school best friends and are now Fort Worth neighbors. After Wright mentioned the business concept, they decided to buy a kiln and began developing products. 

“I said, ‘Sure, let’s give it a shot,’ thinking it was going to be a once a month sort of thing that’s now turned into a full-time business with five employees and a warehouse and retail space,” said Minor.

Minor said that she also has a career as a part-time dentist.

The duo started their business out of Minor’s house, making impressions in the dining room and later moving to Wright’s back patio. Their marketing was focused on local neighborhood social media pages.

As their customer reach grew, so did their product line. Minor shared that their clay work extends beyond impressions.

“We do ornaments, jewelry, dishes and plates that go on a bookshelf,” said Minor.

The studio also makes popular holiday platters and plates. 

Cowtown Clay outlines various ways to order. One option is through mail order kits, where clay and directions are sent to your address, allowing you to take impressions from your house before mailing back. Another option is through in-person appointments.

The clay studio is the first to create shadowboxes, which preserve impressions inside of an acrylic box with Schumacher Grasscloth backing.

Additionally, the studio offers paint-your-own bars where customers can decorate their own pieces.

Along with the development of products and national order shipments, Cowtown Clay has experienced major growth. They moved into their current studio space during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The studio has also had the opportunity to partner with local organizations.

One group that Minor and Wright have worked with is Abel Speaks, a nonprofit located in Dallas that supports parents with a terminal diagnosis for their pregnancy.

Often partnering with hospital NICU’s Cowtown Clay provides these families with shadowboxes of their child. Minor explained that this was one of the studio’s most meaningful products.

The duo would like to expand their national market during the next few years. 

Though growing in other areas, Minor emphasized the importance of female-owned businesses in Fort Worth. 

“There are so many female business owners here, and everyone lifts each other up and helps each other out,” said Minor. “It’s such a big small town.”

Minor shared that her kids attend Cowtown Kids Art Studio classes and she often uses pajamas from Lila + Hayes.

The presence of female business owners is growing, and their community grows stronger with each business addition.

Lila + Hayes

Lila + Hayes is a clothing company specializing in Pima cotton pajamas and playwear.

Founded by Paige Casey and Amanda Galati in 2012, the duo was inspired to start a pajama line when comparing notes about what their children were wearing.

Inspired by the soft and detailed pajamas that their children wore as babies, Casey and Galati created a line of Pima cotton pajamas.

Lila, Galati’s daughter, and Hayes, Casey’s daughter, inspired the name of the business, marketing clothing for children.

In April 2012, Casey and Galati traveled to Lima, Peru for a Pima cotton trade show. After working with various groups, the team chose one manufacturer to source the material for their line.

Lila + Hayes started with layette sizing, up to 12 months old, and children’s sizing in pajama styles and accessories. The business expanded to more prints and play wear and sizes for older ages.

Additionally, the company makes men’s and women’s sleepwear. 

Similar to the development of Cowtown Clay, Lila + Hayes began locally. The duo sold their products at in-home trunk shows and gift markets around Fort Worth.

Three years later, the company expanded to wholesale, with showrooms in Dallas and Atlanta. 

In their first season, Lila + Hayes sold to 25 stores, which has now grown to over 180. They explained that most of this expansion has taken place in recent years.

“I think the change in the way people shop, and so many people shopping online now has helped our business grow,” said Galati. “It has a lot to do with our stores too, and brand awareness, as people see us in other parts of the country in a local boutique.”

Galati and Casey both had day jobs before the growth of Lila + Hayes, but it quickly became their full time career.

The owners shared that partnering with other women in the market is one of the most impactful aspects of their business. Through their growth, they have met other businesses with similar stories.

“We knew that there were other women growing their business and doing the same thing, so we created a little coop, all under one roof, and we’re all moms,” said Casey. “And we share stories and we share trade secrets.”

Apart from working with other women, Galati shared that one of their biggest motivations is to inspire the next generation of girls.

“You don’t have to miss out on being a mom and being involved in your family to build a successful business,” said Galati.

Lila + Hayes now operates off of Vickery Boulevard and many of its employees are moms who have a passion for creativity.

Cowtown Kids Art Studio

Cowtown Kids Art Studio shares a similar story to both of these female-owned businesses.

Founded in the spring by Macy Holloway and Natalie Ledyard, Cowtown Kids focuses on teaching art to children outside of the school classroom.

Holloway and Ledyard met when their daughters attended the same dance class. They found they shared a passion for teaching art. 

In the spring of 2021, Holloway introduced the idea to start an art summer camp. The duo decided that the business would be located in Ledyard’s screened-in back porch and they posted their idea on social media.

Holloway said that their posts received immediate positive responses. 

“It was our dream and we wanted this for our kids, but we didn’t know if we were the only people who wanted it,” said Holloway. “And come to find out, we’re not.”

Many parents shared that the stress of at-home art projects was overwhelming.

The business experienced major growth in its first few months. Having been in operation for less than a year, Holloway and Ledyard have worked with hundreds of children.

The studio provides weekly after-school classes, holiday camps, family workshops and community events. 

Cowtown Kids organized a Father’s Day event in Clearfork to connect with the Fort Worth community.

“We believe that art is for everybody, and there shouldn’t be any kind of restriction on that,” said Holloway. “It’s important to us to do community events because that opens that door for kids.”

The studio also puts on a gallery night, where students showcase their work to friends and family. This was one of the projects that motivated the owners to move into a larger space.

Cowtown Kids started working in its studio on Vickery Boulevard in November 2021.

The duo emphasized that female-owned businesses are an important part of the community to show that women don’t need to choose between a career and a family.

Holloway had a background in marketing while Ledyard had experience in art education. The women were motivated to start down a new career path that would utilize these skills, and they did so with families of their own.

“You don’t have to put off your dreams for a later date when it’s possible to get it done in the present,” said Ledyard.

These owners are some of the many women in Fort Worth that followed their business dreams. The female-owned business community will only grow stronger as these women inspire more individuals to do the same.