Hamilton County, IN, has a special kind of magic — thanks to the creative women who call this place home.
Located just north of Indianapolis, Hamilton County, Indiana is home to the cities of Carmel, Noblesville, Fishers and Westfield. And while the area’s roots are founded in agriculture, what makes this place truly special today is the incredible women entrepreneurs and makers who live there.
The following are six exceptional women who made a name for themselves and a difference in others’ lives, all in the unassuming and inspiring place called Hamilton County, Indiana.
Lisa Sparks, Owner of Lisa’s Pie Shop
Lisa Sparks doesn’t like pie. In fact, she doesn’t even taste her own pies – and many of them are state and national award winners. At 29, Sparks was working in a factory when she was diagnosed with cancer. She decided then that she would change her life if she survived – and she did. She happened to be teaching herself to bake at the time when her husband’s best friend’s mother gave her the secret ingredients to “never having a bad pie.â€ Sparks took that advice, entered her pie in a contest … and that’s when the winning began.
Sparks doesn’t believe in credit. She scraped together everything she needed for her shop and paid for it in cash. Her business doesn’t use computers and she does everything by hand including baking 500 to 600 pies a day and an upwards of 2,000 for Thanksgiving. She’s even expanded her business and now sells Lisa’s Pie in a Jar. Her baked goods are shipped across the states and her guest book is filled with people from all over the world. If you stop by her shop for a pie, be sure to bring cash or a check because she really doesn’t believe in credit and you won’t be able to resist a bite of one of the best pies in the country.
Shelly Henley, Owner of No Label at the Table
Shelly Henley knew the statistics were stacked against her autistic 18-year-old son Jacob. According to Integrate Autism Employment Advisors, Only 35 percent of 18-year-olds with autism attend college, and 85% of graduates with autism remain unemployed. She wasn’t about to let her son be a statistic, so she asked him what he wanted to be – and that is how No Label at the Table was born.
Jacob’s dream was to be a restaurant chef, and as it turns out, he’s an incredible baker. Henley and her son started their business baking gluten and dairy-free goods in their home kitchen and selling them at farmers markets. Their products were so popular that No Label at the Table officially opened its storefront location in Carmel on March 16, 2018. Their shop is an all-vegan bakery that is fully staffed by individuals on the autistic spectrum. The menu offers sweet breads, cakes, cookies, muffins, pies and donuts– and ships some nationally. The store is one of the few employment sources for individuals on the autistic spectrum and it offers amazing sweets for those who struggle with special diets.
Bonnie Wynn Ramirez, Owner of TorchQueen Art Metals
At 42, Bonnie Ramirez was a custom homes construction onsite job superintendent. The welders she met on the job and their fiery artistic work had always intrigued her. One day she had an idea for a wrought iron headboard and that’s when she realized that if she learned how to weld, she could make her own.
So she enrolled in an art metals welding class and did just that. Ramirez began creating welded artwork and went on to become the first woman to earn an Associate of Welding Technology at Austin Community College. That’s how she earned the name “Torch Queen.”
Since moving to Noblesville, Ramirez’s passion has taken off. She taught evening welding classes for a stretch of time and her art was so well received that she began receiving offers for commissioned work. This year, Ramirez took a break from teaching but she enjoys the luxury of picking her commissions. Every year she does pieces for fundraisers for organizations she participates in including the Our Town Cicero Art & Design Council, Prevail Women’s Center and anti-human trafficking groups. Her most recent commission is a mobile sculpture called “Heart of It Allâ€ for Noblesville Cultural District.
Tina Jesson, Owner of Tina’s Tearoom
Jesson moved from England to Indiana in 2008. Born and raised in Derbyshire, she was always a passionate home baker. When she crossed the sea to her new home, she brought with her several of her family’s English pastry recipes. Jesson admits the move was a bit of a cultural shock for her at first. She kept her connection to home and tradition initially by baking scones and selling them at farmers markets and offering a tea party catering service. But what Jesson had always really wanted to do – since the age of 28 – was own her own Tea Room. In 2014, she made her dream come true in Carmel.
Tina’s Tearoom is 100% traditional, offering an authentic vintage English Tearoom experience. Customers can enjoy Jesson’s own brand of teas, preserves and pastries – as well as hard-to-find tea blends. She also offers etiquette lessons, tea talks and immersive experiences. Themed events include a Sherlock Holmes Murder Mystery, Harry Potter Birthday Feast, Jane Austen Garden Party, and others.
Deanna Leonard & Erin Goodman, Founders of Caravan Classes
Leonard and Goodman are on a mission to empower people of all skill levels through making art. These two friends are both artists and educators who are passionate about what they do. Along with a shared passion, they both had vintage campers, which sparked their idea to create a business that could bring pop-up art experiences to local events.
Caravan Classes is located in Downtown Noblesville and offers mobile and studio art parties and art classes for people of all ages. They’ve seen enough success to have designed both custom projects for small groups as well as projects groups of thousands. Their unique studio is a popular destination for residents and visitors.