By Julie Huss
---- — DERRY — There is a lot of girl power these days at the Granary building.
For close friends Melanie Davis and Carmel Shea, opening a business together was a dream come true.
They are the newest women business owners in that area of Derry, opening The Grind Rail Trail Cafe on Manning Street.
“We got off our bikes one day after a long ride (on the bike trail),” Davis said, “and realized at this point how little there was down here.”
With the new coffee shop now open, the Granary boasts many women-owned businesses.
Women are fast taking hold of the business world nationally and in New Hampshire.
The number of women-owned firms grew 44.1 percent in the state from 1997 to 2014, according to a recent report issues by American Express.
There are more than 39,000 businesses in New Hampshire owned by women.
Shea said the pair always talked about starting a business together. The coffee shop idea seemed to be the perfect answer.
Many women like Shea and Davis take the plunge to bring something they love into a thriving working business venture.
That’s something Beverly Donovan sees often.
The Collier’s International real estate broker said it’s a growing trend.
“I work with a lot of women in business,” Donovan said. “There are a lot of niche businesses.”
Finding that successful business niche is something Christine Arlit found five years ago when she opened her Sewing Diva Quilt and Gift Shop on Manning Street. It was a chance to do something she loved.
“It’s exciting and rewarding,” Arlit said. “I love what I do.”
It’s also hard work. Arlit is currently planning an expansion at her store, where she offers sewing materials, supplies and classes.
Adjacent to The Sewing Diva is The Culinary Playground and You’re An Artist, both with female owners at the helm.
Jessica Hood opened You’re an Artist in 2013 and knew the Manning Street location was perfect for her business.
“I knew I wanted to be in Derry and I loved the space,” Hood said. “It seemed like a great environment.”
She said she often works collaboratively with her neighbors at Culinary Playground to offer special art and cooking camps for kids.
Derry planning director George Sioras said the town is seeing more women opening businesses.
He credited Shea and Davis for a successful grand opening at the coffee shop and said they did all the right things when it came to planning and executing their business dream.
“It’s one of those great things,” he said. “They came in with an idea, and looked and looked until they finally found a spot they liked.”
Noah Davis, 16, said his mother worked very hard to open the coffee shop.
“I think it’s awesome,” he said. “I’m proud of what they’ve done.”
Arlit said it’s sometimes like a sisterhood at the Granary and owners support each other.
“We all get along,” she said.
Arlit said she had little time off during her early years getting established. But the rewards are also great as she can plan her own destiny and future.
“I just now want to share my passion with others,” she said. “I would never do anything differently.”
Staff writer John Toole contributed to this story