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In anticipation of Women’s History Month (and International Women’s Day falling on March 8), we’re honored to share the inspiring stories of five female Philadelphian entrepreneurs, including Lily Fischer Co-Owner of Cake Life Bake Shop, Fishtown’s award-winning woman-, trans-, and immigrant-owned small-batch artisanal bakery, mother-daughter duo Rosemarie Certo and Renata Vesey of Dock Street Brewing Company, Philadelphia’s first and one of America’s original craft breweries, Kiki Aranita Owner of Poi Dog Sauces, the woman and AAPI-owned purveyor of Hawai’i at-home condiments, and Sofia Deleon Owner of Tenango Rum, the brand-new, Latina-owned spirit. 


Cake Life Bake Shop 

Native Philadelphian Lily Fischer is the chef and co-owner of Cake Life Bake Shop, Fishtown’s trans-, woman-, and immigrant-owned small-batch artisanal bakery (who baked Beyoncé’s birthday cake – twice!). After studying music at Sarah Lawrence College and a stint as a preschool teacher, Fischer enrolled in the Philadelphia Art Institute’s Baking and Pastry Program. Fischer’s claim to fame is winning an episode of Food Network’s Cupcake Wars, where she reconnected with college best friend and fellow pastry chef Nima Etemadi, co-founder of Cake Life Bake Shop.  

Highlights from the bakery’s menu include Funfetti Cake (Beyoncé’s cake of choice), a vanilla cake with baked in sprinkles, layered and encased in Italian buttercream, Gritty Cupcakes, featuring colorful frosting depicting the iconic Philadelphia mascot, Shortbread Cookies, made in a bevy of flavors such as Earl Grey, Lemon Thyme, Orange-Cardamom, Raspberry-Hazelnut, and more! 

Locals can swing by the award-winning Fishtown bakery at 1306 Frankford Ave. The menu rotates monthly (with a selection of recurring staples) – dessert lovers can place same-day orders and pre-orders online with the option of pick-up or delivery. | Instagram @cakelifebakeshop 


Dock Street Brewing Company 

Meet the mother-daughter duo running Dock Street Brewing Company, Philadelphia’s first and one of America’s original craft breweries: Rosemarie Certo and Renata Vesey.  

  • Dock Street, Philadelphia’s independent, award-winning, family-run brewery, was co-founded in 1985 by Rosemarie Certo, who remains the owner and president today. Born in Sicily to an entrepreneurial family of olive oil producers and vintners, Rosemarie emigrated to the United States at ten years old. After earning degrees from Penn State University and Moore College of Art, she taught English and worked as a professional photographer before her entry into the world of beer. Rosemarie attributes much of her love and passion for high quality and innovative beers to her family’s artisanal background. She is considered an early pioneer — the “Mother of Craft Beer” — and one of the first women in the (still) male-dominated craft beer movement.  
  • Rosemarie’s daughter, Renata Vesey, has quite literally grown up with the brewery, born only a few weeks after the company’s inception in September of 1985 (photo). Today, Renata serves as the Creative Director, spearheading marketing, business development, branding, copywriting and social media strategy. However, Vesey has always played a significant role in the brewery, in fact, Dock Street’s Kids Menu boasts an original drawing by five-year-old Renata to this day (photo). After growing up in Philly, spending much of her childhood at the brewpub cutting out labels for growlers with her brother Sasha Certo-Ware, Renata attended Boston University. Upon returning to Philly in 2014 or so, Renata served many roles within Dock Street, from bartending to Head of Sales, to Event Coordinator, to her current role as Creative Director.  

Each year on International Women’s Day, March 8, the Dock Street team releases Citrahood, a 7% ABV tangerine IPA, celebrating sisterhood and women of all sizes, shapes, backgrounds, beliefs and gender identity and expressions. Citrahood is hopped in the kettle exclusively with Citra hops. It’s then fermented with Dock Street’s house hazy strain and a few hundred pounds of tangerine purée and dry-hopped with Citra, New Zealand, Wakatu, Wilamette and Amarillo. The 16 ounce cans feature a label with gorgeous artwork reflecting the spirit of the diversity among womxn beer drinkers. Citrahood is available for purchase in 16 ounce cans in select retailers in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, and will be on draft at the brewery starting on March 8 while supplies last. | Instagram: @dockstreetbeer 


Poi Dog Sauces 

Meet Kiki Aranita – the local AAPI chef behind Poi Dog Sauces, James Beard-nominated journalist, and artist. Inspired by her childhood split between Hawai’i and Hong Kong, and eventual transition into the contiguous states, Aranita confronts the nuances of her identity in each facet of her life through food.  

As seen in The New York Times, Good Morning America, Food Network, BuzzFeed, and more, Poi Dog Sauces showcase island-inspired flavors such as Chili Peppah Water, Guava Katsu Sauce, and Huli Huli Sauce. These sauces are available locally at select retailers, such as South Philly Co-op, Riverwards Produce, Di Bruno Bros., and more, as well as nationally via Amazon and Poi Dog’s website. See below for detailed descriptions of each sauce.   

  • Chili Peppah Water ($16/9 oz. | Vegan, gluten free) — Chili Peppah Water is found on most tables in Hawai’i, nestled next to the shoyu. We say “chili peppah water over everything” and “everything” refers to rice, meats, macaroni salad, vegetables, and more. This iteration of the seasonally-changing sauce is dubbed Noelani, after founder Chef Kiki Aranita’s younger sister. Batch: Noelani features Espelette and Ancho Peppers from Boonville Barn Collective. Chef-developed, Chili Peppah Water is the perfect seasoning for Hawaiian style plate lunches, poke bowls, raw oysters, margaritas, mocktails, and more. 
  • Huli Huli ($17/12 oz.) — Sweet pineapple, deeply savory miso, fragrant Chinese five-spice — this sauce is versatile. Use it to baste your chickens, but also give your mushrooms, your vegetables, your burgers, a deep, sweet savoriness.  
  • Guava Katsu Sauce ($16/12 oz | Vegan) — Tropical, umami-rich, fruity and gingery. A Japanese-style bbq and dipping sauce made with guava, miso, ginger, tomato and dried mushroom. Meaty, rich and deeply flavorful — but it happens to be vegan! | Instagram: @poidogforever  


Tenango Rum   

Guatemala City native Sofia Deleon, owner of Philadelphia’s beloved El Merkury, is a visionary aiming to reshape the world’s perception of rum with her brand-new spirit, Tenango Rum (750ml, 80 proof, $49.99). Inspired by Deleon’s great-great grandmother, a pioneering woman distiller in the 1920’s, Tenango is an homage to family, good times, and the female entrepreneurial spirit. 

The rum also aims to provide a sustainable income for Guatemalan communities via employing women and craftspeople to hand-make the vibrant covers that adorn each bottle. The traditional Mayan sheaths are woven on a traditional foot loom by a Guatemalan Kik’che’ Women’s co-op that specializes in this cultural practice.   

Tenango features rich notes of cocoa, banana, coffee, almond, and tropical fruits, which seamlessly dance with the whiskey notes imparted by the second use barrel, adding flavors of butterscotch and caramel, making this the perfect rum for whiskey lovers.  

Tenango Rum is currently sold nationwide for online purchase, as well as at select East Coast retailers, with more to come soon. Current retailers include: 

  • Buy Rite Williamstown (2031 N Black Horse Pike, Williamstown, NJ 08094) 
  • Buy Rite West Deptford (1075 Mantua Pike, West Deptford, NJ 08096) 
  • Buy Rite Holmdel (2101 NJ-35 Suite 407, Holmdel, NJ 07733) 
  • Max’s Beer, Wine & Liquor (116 3rd Ave, Neptune City, NJ 07753) 
  • Wine Outlet (2130 NJ-35, Holmdel, NJ 07733) | Instagram: @tenangorum