Susan Townley Wood

Owner, The Cultured Pearl Restaurant

Meghan Shupe

In 1992, Townley Wood was living in Ocean City, Maryland, where she’d have to commute to Annapolis when frequent sushi cravings hit. A self-employed construction consultant at the time, she had another entrepreneurial epiphany: “It seemed like a good idea to design and build my own sushi restaurant,” she says.

But there were issues beyond living with limited resources in a seasonal resort town. “Being an American woman in the male-dominated Japanese restaurant industry while continuing to operate another business was challenging,” says Wood, noting she had no female colleagues for support. “But that made me stronger and left me feeling fulfilled every time I overcame an obstacle myself,” she says.

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At home, Wood also had the full-time jobs of wife and mother, which she considers her “biggest accomplishment.” Sometimes, Wood thinks maybe she should have taken her father’s advice and opened a pancake house instead, since “it doesn’t require exotic foods or specialty skilled labor,” she jokes. But then she realizes “I wouldn’t change a thing.”

Her advice for young female entrepreneurs: “Go for it. Surround yourself with people who are smarter and even more hardworking than you are. Learn from them and learn from your own mistakes. Give every task 100 percent. Win, lose or draw, you will sleep well knowing that your worst regret will never be not trying.

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