March is Women's History Month, and Camp Bowie District has many incredible female business owners that make Fort Worth the thriving and special city that it is. Women's History Month is a celebration of women's contributions to history, culture and society, all of which we want to highlight while featuring some of the incredible female entrepreneurs that contribute so much to the District.
Before the boom of entrepreneurship in the late 1970s, there was Bettye Bradford. She was prim and proper; she was a mom and wanted to find alternatives to traditional medicine and healthier lifestyles. Inspired by her sister’s health, Bettye wanted to find and offer preventive and natural approaches to health. Some would say she was a pioneer as a female entrepreneur and ahead of her time in the health and wellness market – especially for Fort Worth, Texas in 1970. But Bradford had a willingness to educate others about a more natural way of life and could do that when she opened her first store in the fall of 1970. The space was a simple 800-square foot shop and the only two employees were Bettye and her son Rick. Throughout the years, the Sunflower Shoppe name has grown and evolved but the team and family remain committed to providing the friendly and personable service backed with an experienced staff and premier products. Bettye’s inspiration and vision to help people lead better, healthier lives is being carried on by her grandchildren to this day.
Tommy’s Hamburger Grill has been serving the Fort Worth community since 1983 when founders Tommy and Glenda Smith first opened Tommy’s in a Texaco convenience store in Lake Worth. The Tommy’s family legacy is being carried on today by Kelly Smith, Tommy and Glenda’s daughter. Kelly grew up in the restaurant world and started helping her parents with the family business at age sixteen. In 2002, she opened her very first location of Tommy’s on The Bricks of Camp Bowie Boulevard. This location will celebrate twenty years this July, and it truly has become an integral part of our Camp Bowie community. When asked what keeps her motivated every day to keep the business going, Kelly answered, “Carrying on the family tradition that my parents started almost 40 years ago. When you dine at any location of Tommy’s, my parents always wanted you to feel at home. I feel like we’ve continued to offer that hometown, locally owned vibe”. Kelly also finds inspiration by creating gourmet burgers and experimenting with different flavors to create new menu items. No matter what obstacle gets in their way, Tommy’s has consistently provided great food, a fun environment, awesome customer service and a family feel every time you walk through their doors.
Katy Slayton founded Vanity Room Waxing Boutique as an embodiment of her love of work is esthetics. Although she was faced with many obstacles throughout her young life, she persevered and fought to be the kind and strong woman that she is known as to this day. Throughout her life, Katy struggled with scoliosis and continuously underwent surgeries to help relieve her constant pain. While some would be discouraged by constant treatments and surgeries, Katy emerged from each one more determined to have a fulfilling life and follow her dreams. Although Katy did not discover her love for esthetics until her young adult years, she entered this industry with determination. Her perseverance led her to open Vanity Room Waxing Boutique in 2008, Camp Bowie Boulevard’s beloved destination for world-class esthetician services. Her vision of wonderful customer service carries through to this day at Vanity Room Waxing Boutique. Although she has since passed away, her memory remains at her business that is continuing to serve the Fort Worth community every single day.
If you have spent any time on Camp Bowie Boulevard in the last twenty-five years, you have heard of a charming little shop called Mayfair on the Boulevard. Opened by Rebecca Avant, store owner and proprietor, Mayfair has lived in several different locations over the years. It finally found its home on The Bricks of Camp Bowie five and a half years ago, where it has been catching customers’ eyes ever since. When asked what inspired her to open her business, Rebecca answered: “I knew when I was nine or ten years old that I wanted a little shop. It is everything I love rolled into one career”. Heart and dedication have both contributed to Mayfair’s success in Fort Worth, and the passion that inspired Rebecca in her youth is still in her today. In addition to operating her shop every day, Rebecca stays busy designing and creating things to sell. In fact, she has an entire back room in her shop that is her dedicated creativity station. From greeting cards, paintings, and festival seasonal décor to hand-picked merchandise and beautiful window dressing, you can tell that being creative is not only something that Rebecca loves but something she has mastered. Although some days are slower than others, whenever she hears the door to her store jingle, her heart fills with joy to greet her customers.
Fort Worth business owner Charlsye Lewis is passionate about helping others and giving both animals and people a happy, healthy life. At age 11, she decided that she would become a vegetarian because she realized the importance of animals and did not want to contribute to their suffering. Lewis studied at TCU on the pre-veterinary track, but once she graduated, she realized that she wanted to help animals in more of a wellness capacity. Because of her love of animals, she decided to open Metro Animals, a dog daycare, boarding, and grooming facility which has been so successful that it now has grown to four locations. Metro Animals’ success inspired both Charlsye and her husband to continue their health journey. Charlsye said it best: “The health of my friends and family motivates me and I feel strongly that the best insurance for a long and happy life starts with the food we eat”. Her father passed away a few years ago due to diabetic complications, and this was a gigantic turning point for her to focus on her next business venture: Boulevard of Greens. Years of market research and experimentation later, Charlsye opened Boulevard of Greens as a place for people to practice wellness and enjoy what they eat, and every single menu item has only the best and purest ingredients. All Charlsye’s inspiration comes from a care for others, and that motivates her to this day in both of her businesses. When not at work, she enjoys doing Zumba, creating wheel-thrown pottery, and spending time with her family and pets.
Judy Jones Rotzoll
Boutique owner Judy Jones Rotzoll has lived in Fort Worth her whole life. Her entire career has been in apparel, as she began working at the Fort Worth Neiman Marcus store and spent a decade working both in sales and in management. Judy took some time away from the business to begin her lovely family, and then began working again on the wholesale side of the business where she worked for a large showroom. In her time in the whole-sale industry that she realized the shopping options in Fort Worth were very limited and she grew frustrated at the amount of clothing lines that were not offered. It was then when Judy and her friend Alice began the idea for Keeping Up With the Joneses about seven years ago. They started with in-home pop-up shops and eventually moved into their first brick and mortar store. Alice stepped away from the business, and Judy has been “keeping up” for the past six incredible years. Judy shared with us that her store has always stayed true to its original vision. They offer bright, cheerful, well-mad clothing designed for women of all ages, but especially for women over age 40. The clothes that Keeping Up With the Joneses carries are almost all women-designed or women-owned and are designed to be as versatile as the Fort Worth woman. Judy shared with us that what truly motivates and thrills her is when a customer is happy with their purchases, and they feel confident wearing them. As Judy puts it, “I want you to be jonesing for more". And since Keeping Up With the Joneses just celebrated its seventh anniversary, it is clear that she loves her job and adores her customers.
These six incredible women are a handful of the women-founded and women-owned businesses that make up the backbone of the Camp Bowie Boulevard business community. Let's celebrate all of the contributions that women bring to the Fort Worth history, culture, and society this month and all year round.