By Amanda Kuhnert
“As women business owners we felt that we needed to create a space where other women makers, artisans, and entrepreneurs could come together and be empowered,” said Sarah Krinsky, co-owner of W. Collective in Bennington, Vermont. She and co-owner Bri Magnifico opened their store and café on Bennington’s Main Street in July 2021.
The boutiquey shop offers a curated selection of vintage items and handcrafted objects made by partner vendors, along with the owners’ own products; Krinsky sells vintage clothing and décor and Magnifico has her own self-titled womenswear and lifestyle brand. “Our business highlights women and meaning, but we are an open and creative space for all to showcase their works and learn from one another,” Magnifico said.
The two began developing their startup idea during the summer of 2020. They were passionate about their vision, but weren’t sure what it would take to get a business off the ground. During an online search, they stumbled upon the Vermont Small Business Development Center (VtSBDC), a state-sponsored organization that offers free business advice and guidance to Vermont entrepreneurs. They immediately began working with VtSBDC advisor Nancy Shuttleworth, who has a broad background in marketing, technology, and business development, along with 10-plus years of business mentoring.
“It takes a considerable amount of detail to formulate and execute a business plan and create somewhat hypothetical financial projections,” Krinsky said. “Working with VTSBDC, especially with our advisor, Nancy Shuttleworth, has allowed us to turn a simple idea into an authentic and vital business for our community.”
Shuttleworth credits Krinsky and Magnifico for the amount of time and effort they put into finetuning their business plan and financial projections, while also trying to locate the best space for the business. They ended up settling into the former Catbird Studio at 332 Main Street. With any brick-and-mortar business, Shuttleworth explained, finding a location is just the first step: “Then there are usually negotiations with the landlord and updating the business plan and projections as you move forward and solidify the concept.”
“Working on a new business concept and opening a new business during a pandemic takes optimism and dedication,” Shuttleworth said. “Sarah and Bri relentlessly pursued their business idea and overcame obstacles along the way.”
W. Collective is open Thursday through Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Sunday, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The café serves coffee by A1 Coffee Roasters, another Vermont small business located just up the road in Wilmington.
For more info: wcollective.co.
Looking for more? Visit VtSBDC.org to explore resources or to request advising.