Judy Wicks is an innovative businesswoman and an activist who has applied new techniques in business. She works with a great imagination and a great desire to cooperate with others to provide Pennsylvania with strong local economy. She is a graduate of Lake Erie College, BA English in 1969.
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When explaining her occupation in restaurant business, she adores pointing to its accidental nature. And she means it. In 1970 she founded the Free People’s Store (now Urban Outfitters) with her husband, Richard Hayne. However, a year later they split up. Having driven a red light, she had got into a car crash. Luckily, a stranger on a street offered her a job of a waitress. She worked for 13 years at this place.
She tried herself as a manager at Sansom Street’s La Terrasse, but this experience ended up in disappointment and failure. She expected a café’s owner to make her a co-owner, but he did not. Judy had her own shop on the first floor of her house, so in 1983 she quit her job at La Terrasse and expanded her own menu.
In 1983, the White Dog Cafe was founded by Judy Wicks. The café was situated on the first floor. The first reason for this reconstruction was the danger of destruction of the building.
At the beginning, it was something like a tiny café, but later it has grown up to a 200-seat restaurant with over 100 employees including the adjacent retail store, the Black Cat.The main features included were fresh local food and a community involvement. Controlling the café, Judy always checked the quality of food. She concluded an agreement with one farmer family for ecologically clean products: meet, eggs, and fish.
She also applied other useful business techniques. Among them, she used recycling, composting, usage of eco-friendly products: soap, office supplies. She generated hot water with usage of solar energy. All electricity that Judy was purchasing was from renewable recourses – wind power. She was the first person who implied such business skills in Pennsylvania (Albion, 2000).
Furthermore Judy is the first one who put into practice lending money. She is loaning local farmer money for the expansion of their farms. Wicks is working towards building a tightly-knit community. In her debates, she uses her main slogan: “Businesses should not grow bigger!” (Albion, 2000) For her part, Wicks donates 20% of the White Dog’s profits to the programs she has organized recently.
In 2004, Inc magazine named Judy Wicks one of America’s 25 most fascinating entrepreneurs, “because she’s put in place more progressive business practices per square foot than any other entrepreneur” (Shetterly, 2007).
Judy has gained lots of awards, among them “Philadelphia Sustainability Awards, Life Time Achievement (2007), New Prophetic Voice Award, Shalom Center (2006), Philadelphia Student Union “Living the Change We Wish to See” Award (2005), PA Resources Council Business Award (2005), James Beard Foundation Humanitarian of the Year Award (2005), Spirit of Philadelphia Award in Honor of W. Thatcher Longstreth, Philadelphia Cares (2005), Althea Gibson Community Award (2005), Breastfeeding-Friendly Business Award, Maternity Care Coalition (2004), First annual Interdependence Award, Democracy Collaborative (2004)” () and many others.
Supporting her tree main concepts (serving customers, community, employees, and the natural environment), Judy has organized numerous educational and community-building programs based on The White Dog Café. The aims of these programs are connected with economy and sociology, environmental protection and other issues.
In 1986 by means of “Table for Six Billion, Please!” started the international project. Judy was an active participator; she helped to organize trips to such countries, as Nicaragua, Mexico, the Palestine, and many others (Hollender, 2003).
In conclusion, Judi Wicks says, “I’m helping to create an economic system that will respect and protect the earth—one which would replace corporate globalization with a global network of local living economies. Business is beautiful when it’s a vehicle for serving the common good” (Shetterly, 2007). She has shown really innovative behavior in her business and, furthermore, she is widely promoting her way of thinking.
Albion, Mark. Making a Life, Making a Living: Reclaiming Your Purpose and Passion in Business and in Life Business Plus Dec. 2000.
Hollender, Jeffrey, Fenichell, Stephen. What Matters Most: How a Small Group of Pioneers Is Teaching Social Responsibility to Big Business, and Why Big Business Is Listening Basic Books, 2003.
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Shetterly, Robert. “Americans Who Tell the Truth: Judy Wicks.Document Actions” RSS Feed, 2007.