Owning It: 17 Red Hot Entrepreneurs

Gail Hewison Owner
The Feminist Bookshop

Destination Australia? Head for The Feminist Bookshop in the Lilyfield neighborhood of Sydney. Expect a warm welcome from owner Gail Hewison.

Last year Hewison, 67, received Australia's highest honor for community service; this year marks 25 years in business with her two lesbian sisters. "It all started with a small inheritance left to us by a favorite aunt," says the veteran peace activist. "I was the oldest sibling with the big idea. Jane taught psychology. Libby worked in a travel agency. We met in a coffee shop and agreed to take over the landmark founded in 1982. I didn't have to convince them very hard to go along."

Then came what Hewison calls the "bloody hard work" of keeping the doors open. Key strategy: be flexible, stay relevant. Australia's sole surviving women's bookstore remains a resource center for locals and young people searching for support and inspiration and for Gay/Straight Alliances (GSAs). Hewison credits success to the people she calls "community stakeholders." She adds, "Feminism has expanded out into family life and community social work areas. The boys pick up their gay newspapers from us. Romantic fiction sells well."

What's Hewison proudest of? "The way I serve community through business. Growing spiritually. Being a happy, optimistic person." An 18-year relationship with physician Liz Rickman teaches her to stick with the doctrine she lives by: "Harmony. Live and let live." –SS

Free Life Campaign 10/27