Throughout the month of March, Grove City celebrates Women’s History Month by spotlighting several of the many women who help make the Grove City business community truly vibrant.
To spotlight local women business owners, Grove City is creating a video to share at the end of the month. If you are a female business owner who lives or works in Grove City, the City wants to include you in the video! Send a photo of your business and how long you’ve been in business to the Community Relations office. Please share this information with women business owners.
Rebecca Sommer | Sommer House Gallery & Co.
Upon moving back to Columbus in the early 1990s, Rebecca Sommer worked as the frame builder for Tree House Gallery, then owned by her mentor, Margi McGuire. Working in the Grove City Town Center inspired her to move to the neighborhood. In 1994, the opportunity arose, for Sommer to become co-owner of the gallery with Judy Hinojosa. That was the beginning of Sommer House Gallery.
In 2008, Sommer went solo with the business, with the assistance of other creative framers to share in the workload. Being in the “heart” of Grove City has been anything but an isolated experience.
Sommer’s community involvement is varied and always fun. She participated with many civic groups and volunteered at community events through the years including acting as the fortune-telling gypsy Carmina Burana during Boo On Broadway and creating City Hall’s Toyland in the 1990s. Sommer’s civic work includes the Grove City Area Chamber of Commerce past board member, past president of the Grove City Arts Council, Grove City Town Center (Heart of Grove City) past board member and Design Committee member; and vice president of Hope Gardens and designer of the Statue for Hope. As the Arts in the Alley Fine Arts Chair, for many years, Sommer was significantly involved with fine arts for youth and adults.
Some of her other activities and design work include creating of the Mistletoe Market logo, winning several awards for her business window display featuring Halloween and wintertime themes and designing, decorating and rebuilding the interior of 3 Brothers Diner.
Sommer House Gallery & Co. is a custom frame gallery now offering “re-charmed” home decor. Unique items are saved and recreated to be enjoyed by another generation. To add to this vintage ambiance, the original metal ceiling was revealed and creatively renovated. Keeping a creative eye for detail, color and arrangement has kept her interest in coming to work and is the major part of her re-charmed life.
Sommer House Gallery, Co. 4038 Broadway, Grove City, OH 43123.
Stacey Sickles | CEO, Creative Mobile Interiors, Inc.
Stacey Sickles became the owner and CEO of Grove City-based Creative Mobile Interiors in December of 2013 after the untimely death of her husband, Owen Connaughton, who founded the business in 1999.
Creative Mobile Interiors specializes in custom conversions of all types and sizes of vehicles for a wide range of clients. Started in a garage, Owen did the customizing and conversion work, while Stacey managed the accounting and paperwork. As the business grew, so did the need for space. The couple purchased six acres of land on Seeds Road with I-71 freeway frontage, and built a 17,600-square-foot, state-of-the-art, manufacturing facility opening in 2008.
By this time, the business employed a full-time accountant and Stacey was no longer involved in the day-to-day operations. Instead, her career was in full swing at Cameron Mitchell Restaurants as vice president of corporate affairs and executive assistant to owner Cameron Mitchell. Stacey began her career there in 1993, just four weeks prior to the opening of Mitchell’s first restaurant, and less than a year after receiving her accounting degree from Franklin University.
Stacey spent the first six years following her husband’s passing splitting time between the two companies and credits the values and lessons she learned at Cameron Mitchell Restaurants with much of the success she accomplished at Creative Mobile Interiors. Under Stacey’s leadership, Creative Mobile Interiors has thrived and employees enjoy improved benefit and retirement plans; employee recognitions; company events and outings; and profit sharing for all.
After 27 years, Stacey officially retired from the restaurant business in 2020 not just to spend more time at Creative Mobile Interiors, but more free time for things such as volunteering with Lifecare Alliance Meals on Wheels, gardening, traveling and spending time with her husband, children and grandchildren.
Creative Mobile Interiors, 6237 Seeds Rd, Grove City, OH 43123.
Erandi De Silva, Ph.D | Forge Biologics
Forge Biologics is a hybrid gene therapy contract manufacturing and clinical-stage therapeutics development company. It partners with innovators in the gene therapy community to provide expertise in gene therapy manufacturing, developing transformative medicines for patients facing rare diseases. It has raised $240M in funding, including $120M in a Series B venture capital fundraise in April 2021 (the largest in Ohio’s history). Forge is already expanding its facility, only a couple years since its founding, and has hired 150+ employees (over 50% women).
Erandi De Silva, Ph.D., is Co-Founder and Senior VP of Product Development at Forge Biologics. In addition to building a rapidly expanding company, Dr. De Silva is also building hope. Forge’s pipeline therapeutic FBX-101, which she oversees, is aimed at treating patients with Krabbe disease, a rare and fatal genetic disorder that typically results in death in young patients by age two if untreated. Dr. De Silva is focused on bringing this gene therapy from preclinical proof of concept to reality, leading Forge a Phase I/II clinical trial already in progress.
Dr. De Silva is also a champion for the biotech ecosystem in Grove City where Forge is based, and in the region. So much economic inequality is exacerbated by high growth startups on the coasts and Forge aims to put Central Ohio on the map as a biotech hub. She is also helping to pave the way for others to succeed, especially women. She helped launch a leadership initiative called She Forges to ensure other women stay within Forge and grow their careers to be able to reach the upper management roles that so often have shut them out. She is also a mentor and regularly seeks out speaking opportunities at schools, in industry, and within the community to encourage young scientists and women and girls to pursue STEM fields. Dr. De Silva is the epitome of a leader in every sense of the word as she continues to center Forge around its core values of integrity, ingenuity, and hope for the future of rare disease patients.
Dr. De Silva discusses all this and more in a recent Columbus Business First podcast.
Forge Biologics, 3900 Gantz Rd, Grove City, OH 43123.
View the ThisWeek Community News/Grove City Record March Mayor’s Stage.