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AHN Small Business Profiles
Kate Quillinan Bowen, Class of 2000
Petit Peony

Inspired by her children and a whole lot of love, Kate Quillinan Bowen founded Petit Peony in August 2014.

When Kate had her first child, she wanted to dress her daughter in cute clothes without breaking the bank. She taught herself how to sew, and found joy in expressing creativity through the pairing of fabrics.  Kate received many compliments on her designs, and began an Etsy online store; seeing how popular her line was becoming Kate decided to do a boutique road show, taking her clothes to boutiques in towns like Nantucket, and areas like Newbury Street in Boston. Every store she visited bought her line, which is now being sold in over 100 boutiques and major retailers nationwide including Nordstrom, Maisonette, and Bergdorf Goodman, as well as in her own storefront boutique in Duxbury, MA.
Petit Peony works with the non-profit organization Mi Esperanza’ to bring designs to life. Mi Esperanza means MY HOPE and began in 2002 with a vision to provide life-sustaining change in the lives of women in the villages surrounding Tegucigalpa, Honduras.
In May 2018, the Bowen family's world was forever changed. Kate’s fourth child, Georgia Claire Bowen, suffered a rare cardiac arrest birth and received a life-saving heart transplant at just four months old. It was at that very moment that Petit Peony's mission evolved. In 2019, Petit Peony launched 'The Georgie,' a hospital garment designed to enhance the patient and family healing experience. In 2020, the Bowen family founded the Georgia Claire Bowen Foundation to give back to the medical community that saved Georgia's life.

Nora Fazioli Matthew, Class of 2007
Her Strength Studio

AHN Alumna and entrepreneur Nora Fazioli Matthew '07, founded Her Strength Studio in Latham, NY in 2018. The business was born out of the philosophy that female-focused training should have its own principles, its own space, and its own community. A key component to being a successful business owner is adaptability, a skill Nora had to rely heavily on when the pandemic shut down gyms and fitness studios for an unknown period of time. Nora and her team had to shift quickly into offering classes virtually, and live-streaming when possible. As she was getting ready to re-open Her Strength, Nora was able to recognize that there had to be some creative re-thinking of the original format of the classes to address the 'new normal'. Nora embraced the challenge, and today her studio is going strong and meeting the needs of women in all ages and stages of life. Nora's advice on entrepreneurship: Believe in yourself-be your own biggest backer- and make sure you are meeting a need that is not being filled, and fill it. 'If you're filling a need, there will always be a need for you.'

Rachel Pierce Christiansen, Class of 1997
Rachel Christiansen Photography

Rachel Pierce Christiansen '97 turned her passion for photography into her full-time business, Rachel Christiansen Photography, in 2013. While deciding to turn her side-gig into her full-time job was 'terrifying', it was outweighed by her desire to create the life that she wanted, and working for herself in order to pursue her passion and spend more time with her children allowed for that. When asked what the recipe is to be a successful entrepreneur, Rachel shared that you need to love what you're doing, and be blessed with at least a little bit of luck, mixed in with a LOT of coffee and courage! If she could offer advice to budding entrepreneurs, she would say this: understand it’s not just a hobby anymore-you are running a business, and need to learn all of the aspects of that-financials, marketing & communications, sales, and interpersonal skills. Have thick skin, a strong work ethic, and a good support system. Most importantly, follow your heart and do what you love, but realize you don’t know what you don’t know and always be willing to learn.