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Activator Update: Quinn McIlhargey-Nicholson of BAQETTE

Quinn McIlhargey-Nicholson

Founder, BAQETTE - A small, woman-owned business creating & curating leather pieces to inspire your everyday life.


A lot can change in a year – just ask Quinn Mcilhargey-Nicholson, owner of Baqette.

“We knew it was something in our future, but I always knew it'd be a very interesting time for me to figure out how this all works, running this business and growing our family, especially as a woman,” says Mcilhargey-Nicholson, now expecting her first child this November just over a year after receiving a Leap Grant from Main Street Ventures. “I have gotten a lot of support from people in terms of encouragement, like how I could bring my baby to the studio and set up a little area … I've hired somebody who helped me with markets through the holiday season and so we will still be offering products; it just might look a little bit different.”

A small, woman-owned business, Baqette specializes in creating and curating upcycled leather into fashionable, functionable use for everyday life. Leap grants provide promising, revenue-generating businesses with $10,000–30,000 of equity-free funding to scale their community impact and increase their long-term survival odds. Mcilhargey-Nicholson says the funding gave her a “boost of confidence,” prompting her to eventually turn what originated as a hobby into a full-time profession.

Mcilhargey-Nicholson says the past year has made her realize the importance of assessing one’s foundation to positively grow in the future, and she credits her Main Street Ventures grant for greatly helping in that process, both in providing capital to increase production speed and building the aforementioned team motherhood will prompt her to rely on further. Additionally, the past year has seen her launch a new product line as well as collaborate with a small business owner in Boulder, Colorado, helping her to stay profitable as she continues to grow.

Since she has already overcome many professional challenges, she doesn’t see the addition to her family slowing down her progress.

“You often feel like you're your own worst critic, especially as a creative artist type of person; You just (need to) take every bit of motivation you can from wherever you can,” she says. “Musicians will say ‘Thank you to my fans.’ I say ‘Thank you’ for people who keep buying my stuff, are still so excited about the product and excited about where the business is going. It's a huge motivation to me.”

While a physical storefront is not yet in her plans, Mcilhargey-Nicholson is looking to expand her online business, noting how the Main Street Ventures grant allowed her to also invest in email marketing.

“I was able to bring in somebody else to my business and team that can help me grow,” she says. “That helped me contact customers via email and newsletters because not everyone is on social media.”

Mcilhargey-Nicholson, who graduated from the appropriately named Hope College in Holland, Michigan, before moving to the Greater Cincinnati region, encourages her fellow entrepreneurs to consider Main Street Ventures when in need of inspiration.

“I do not think I would be where I am without working with Main Street Ventures. Main Street Ventures has helped me to step back, plan better and take things more seriously in a way that I had never done before,” she says. “In entrepreneurship, it’s so important to remember you're not alone as there are so many businesses, especially in Cincinnati, dealing with very similar things even if they’re not in the same field as me. Reaching out and networking is important to growing your community and finding those resources and you should not be shy about that.”


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