Posts From October, 2022

Meet the Women Leading Their Industries in Escondido

Celebrating National Women’s Small Business Month

Subscribe to "Escondido Business Insight" for more stories like this delivered monthly to your inbox.

In October 1988, the U.S. Congress passed the Women’s Business Ownership Act to promote the growth and development of female entrepreneurs. When this important legislation was enacted just 34 years ago, less than 10% of working women owned businesses. Today, women own 1.1 million small businesses across the U.S., with the majority of them headquartered in California. An analysis by Clarify Capital found that California ranked No. 1 for women-owned businesses, and that business-friendly environment has trickled down to its cities as well. Escondido is proud to be the home to countless women-owned small businesses who are using their talent, innovation, and vision to lead their respective industries, provide gainful employment, and give back to their communities. Join us in celebrating their achievements by reading their stories below. 

Arts & Culture

During the pandemic, women-owned businesses were among the hardest hit. And with a business that revolves around public and close gatherings, both Mirrored Memories and The Photographer’s Eye were even more vulnerable. But these Escondido-based businesses were able to retool their services and pull through the pandemic stronger than ever. Today, the women behind these photography businesses continue to thrive and capture memories for local Escondido events. 

Mirrored Memories

Founded by Rina Connolly, Mirrored Memories is an Escondido company providing mirrored photo booths and modern selfie stations at events such as birthdays, weddings, retirement parties, and community events. By utilizing touchless designs, QR codes, and other safety measures, Connolly was able to stay in business as social distancing measures eased during the pandemic.

Partygoers demonstrate how the mirrored photo booth creates memorable shots.

The Photographer's Eye

One of the most valuable resources small businesses provide is an opportunity for locals to find community and belonging. That’s exactly what happens at The Photographer’s Eye, a space for photographers from all levels to learn and hone their craft. Founder Donna Cosentino is also the director and curator for the collective, which features 15 professional photographers from the region.

The Photographer’s Eye is located on Grand Avenue.

Beer & Wine

Escondido’s restaurant and dining sector provides ample entertainment to residents, attracts tourists, and supports the local economy. And while the beer and wine industry has long been a male-dominated environment, three Escondido women are making a name for themselves in the boozy scene.

SIP Wine & Beer

Cassandra Schaeg, owner and operator of SIP Wine & Beer, is on a mission to inspire her fellow Escondido neighbors to live, work, and play in the local community. Formed in 2015 and open since June 2016, SIP has evolved into a space for women, minorities, and local beer and winemakers to showcase their products.

Cassandra Schaeg is the owner of SIP Wine & Beer. 

Altipiano Winery

Denise Clark, owner of Altipiano Winery, has garnered local, national, and international attention with her diverse red wines, produced from brunello grapes in Escondido’s backcountry. Her creations have won Double-Gold, Gold, and Silver medals at the San Francisco International and San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competitions.

Denise Clark is the owner of Altipiano Winery.

Little Miss Brewing

Jade Mischner, owner of Little Miss Brewing, opened the Escondido location in September 2019 in the heart of the downtown district and has six other locations in the region. In addition to its diverse selection of beers, Little Miss Brewing is also known for its charitable contributions and community involvement. 

Information, Communications & Tech

With close proximity to San Diego and affordable living for young families, women-owned tech and ag-tech businesses are thriving in Escondido and providing vital innovation to the city.

Left Coast Engineering

Left Coast Engineering, founded by Anita Baranowski, is an electronics product design firm that creates everything electronics including software, software interfaces, and controls as well as electronics equipment, apps, and electronics encasements. Baranowski and her team of 20 helps clients build their products and navigate the way they bring their products to market.

Anita Baranowski (left) founded Left Coast Engineering.


Aquacycl is a woman-owned and woman-run wastewater treatment technology company. Out of their team of nine, six are women, including Orianna Bretschger, CEO and founder of Aquacycl. Aquacycl’s BioElectrochemical Treatment Technology offers an onsite water treatment technology that breaks down 80-90% of wastewater and converts some into energy for food and beverage industries as well as oil and gas mediation.

Orianna Bretchger is the founder and CFO of Aquacycl.

Specialty Food & Beverage

In the booming specialty food and beverage industry, four Escondido women are embracing community, celebrating every occasion, and creating quality food experiences.


Growing up in Escondido, EscoGelato founder Suzanne Schaffner loved her community and the hometown feel of the downtown area. She opened the café and gelato shop in the heart of downtown Escondido, where she serves up fresh, seasonal gelato using locally grown ingredients.

Owner Suzanne Schaffner stands outside Esco Gelato.

The Grand Tea Room 

An invitation to a tea party became the inspiration for bringing a proper tea room to Escondido. The Grand Tea Room owner and operator Louisa Magoon came into the tea business after a successful career in corporate food services and provides a glamorous, high tea experience in the heart of downtown Escondido.

Louisa Magoon is the owner of The Grand Tea Room.

Sunny Side Kitchen

Kate Carpenter, owner of Sunny Side Kitchen, has been running the beloved community restaurant for over five years in Escondido. Serving fresh, homemade California cuisine, Sunny Side Kitchen is known for its homestyle comfort foods such as meatloaf, mushroom chicken, and cinnamon rolls.

Bob and Kate Carpenter are the owners of Sunny Side Kitchen. 

Deanna’s Gluten Free 

Deanna Smith’s Escondido-based business Deanna’s Gluten Free is one of the most successful gluten-free bakeries in the country. Available at major grocery stores, local restaurants, and farm stands, Deanna’s Gluten Free bakes about 1,500 loaves of bread daily and nearly 50 additional types of pastry and gluten-free products a week.

Deanna Smith’s gluten-free recipes start with whole ingredients.

Stores & Boutiques

Like many cities, Escondido relies heavily on the success of its retail establishments to contribute sales taxes to the city and fund future improvement efforts. And these women-owned businesses are helping achieve just that. 


Mei Bautista, owner of Daydream, a boutique shop that sells unique gifts made by local Escondido artists and makers, is a shining example of the spirit of entrepreneurship in Escondido. Opening Daydream on a whim and with great passion, the store has amassed an avid local following that has allowed Bautista to plan a second location on Grand Avenue.

Owner Mei Bautista, center, with Daydream employees.

Deborah’s Next to New Consignment

Deborah’s Next to New Consignment, which has been a general household consignment store in Escondido for 45 years, survives thanks to the tenacity of its owner, Tami Marmon. She ensured the store reopened during the pandemic after a three-month closure so that residents in-need still had a community resource for essential goods. 

Tami Marmon (left) is the owner of Deborah’s Next to New Consignment. She is pictured with manager Jeff Kitfield.

The Centre

For over 40 years Judy Jones-Cone has made it her purpose to give customers an unforgettable car buying experience. In 2009, she opened The Centre on Auto Park Way near the 15 freeway, giving customers both quality services and exquisite event spaces in one easily accessible location.

The City of Escondido is proud to support the passionate and innovative women business owners in the community. For more information on the resources available to women and minority entrepreneurs, visit