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Part II: Celebrating Woman-Owned Businesses of Sierra County

Part II of a series of articles that highlight female entrepreneurs of the beautiful and historic Sierra County, California, in recognition of Women’s History Month. Different organizations and individuals all across the nation are honoring the generations of trailblazing women and girls who have built our nation, shaped our progress, and strengthened our character as a people--and this includes the trailblazers and leaders of Sierra County. To celebrate the movers and shakers of the local community, the Sierra County Visitors Bureau is featuring participating woman-owned businesses of Sierra County on our website and all social media sites during the month of March.

In the last edition of the Sierra County Visitors Bureau’s Celebrating the Woman-Owned Businesses of Sierra County (published March 16th, 2022), we featured a figure from the Sierra County Historical Society archives, The Sierran (April 25, 1969): "The History of the Golden West Hotel", written by Edna Westall Gottardi. While perusing the rich analogues of The Sierran for our current publication, we decided to feature the fearless, Mary Pemberthy of Forest City, CA. Remembered by her daughter, Edith Permberthy McKenzie, who moved with her mother and father to Forest City in 1883 when she was only about 4 years old—we get a glimpse of what life was like on the frontier of California during the 19th century, as well as how dangerous gold mining as an industry was to many families who never acquired their fortune as they toiled day in and day out in remote regions of the state.

Forest City Dance Hall Museum - courtesy of Backcountry Explorers

Mary Pemberthy was born in 1857 in Wisconsin to a farming family, and after marrying her husband in 1876, Isaac Pemberty, at the age of 19—she found herself moving West with her young children—living in Eureka, Nevada during the 1880 census and then to Forest City in 1883—she, herself, was only 26 years old. Not long after moving to Forest City (now named, Forest as of 1895) Isaac was killed in a cave-in, leaving Mary as a young widow of three children. Yet despite this tragedy, Mary Pemberthy was able to secure a living for herself and her family:

Mrs. Pemberthy then opened a dressmaking shop, which later became a general

merchandising store. It was located between the tire house (likely where the bell stands

today) and the brewery. Behind the store was the jail. Mrs. McKenzie’s mother was a

truly remarkable woman—hewn in the pioneer tradition—for besides running a

business and raising her own children, she also raised the children of her daughter,

Effie Bradbury. Mrs. Bradbury had died of shock three days after she [witnessed] her

husband's nephew [being] crushed to death in a Forest Quartz mill.

“Forest City Revisited” (p.2), The Sierran (September 1969) by Moreland L. Stevens

Forest is largely abandoned today, touting 3 or so year-round residents, but is open to visitors for a self-guided tour starting at the Forest Dance Hall. Road access is mostly dirt,

Forest City Brewery - courtesy of the California State Library

from HWY 49 into Goodyear’s Bar. If you visit in late summer and early fall, also known as apple season, you might catch a glimpse of the grazing cattle meandering through the fog with their Swedish bells dangling and clanging between the quaint historic homes and across the dewy meadows.

We are honored to celebrate the many women of Sierra County and their contributions to our society, like Mary Pemberthy. To read more from this edition of The Sierran click here. Each of the participants in the following interviews were asked to respond to a series of questions about their businesses and the culture around the way they conduct business in Sierra County. If you would like to be one of the awesome entrepreneurs featured in the SCVB's "Highlighting Female Entrepreneurs" campaign for Women's History month, please fill out the following form: or if you would like to recommend someone, email with your request.



Michele Milazzo - Massage Dream

Michele Milazzo - Owner of Massage Dream

Michele Milazzo of Loyalton, CA is living the dream—the Massage Dream!—owning and operating her own therapeutic massage business in Sierra County for almost ten years. Michele moved to the area in the mid-2000’s and has been a staple of Sierra Valley’s health and wellness services ever since, operating out of the tranquil spa facilities at the Campbell Hot Springs (Sierraville, CA) and expanding into services in Loyalton and Portola (Plumas County). Michele has strong ties to the community, with her son graduating as a Loyalton High School alumnus in 2011, Go Grizzlies!, and through coordinating events like the Community Garden Party for families and residents with live music, face painting, and all kinds of fun! It is apparent that Michele is passionate about serving others and passionate about her career. In fact, it was her care for others and their wellbeing that drove her into the massage profession in the first place—and into the tight-knit community in Sierra County.

“My best girlfriend, also named Michelle, talked us both into becoming massage therapists.

We worked in a medical office in Sacramento together [as medical coding specialists] and wanted to do something bigger and better to help our community,” says Michelle, “I wanted to get out from behind the desk and do something more hands-on to help others.” Therapeutic massage was just the right fit. Michele offers a wide variety of services through Massage Dream: adaptable yoga practices (yoga for all), injury rehabilitation, spa services, massage therapy and hot stone treatment. When asked how Michele came up with the name of her business, she stated that “[Massage Dream] was my dream and I wanted to share it with others. I find giving a massage and teaching yoga to be extremely rewarding. I love it all- the music, the smell of the essential oils, the conversations and seeing people smile. I love being creative in general. I enjoy creating specials, gift baskets; jewelry, promotional flyers and gift certificates.”

And Michele’s customers have taken notice! Relying on word-of-mouth advertising and community support to market her business, Michele has found that her number one secret for success is always “putting my heart into what I do.”

“The amazing love and gratefulness of my clients. [And] seeing people come out of pain and stress and feel better!” are what motivates Michele every day as owner of Massage Dream. Her networking and relationship are a top priority. Massage Dream is built on: Trust. “There is vulnerability in opening yourself up to massage and I appreciate that clients trust me to take care of them,” says Michele.

However, as every entrepreneur knows, running a business is not always a breeze! There are many challenges to operating your own organization that often deter business owners from reaching their fullest potential. But for Michele, “overcoming....obstacles, failures, setbacks, COVID and every challenge related to it, always learning and growing and pressing forward” are some of her most satisfying moments in business.

In your opinion, what makes Sierra County a great place to operate a business and/or raise

a family?

The warm caring connection people have in Sierra County makes it the most wonderful place to have a business and call home. It also doesn't hurt that it is absolutely beautiful and peaceful here.

What makes Sierra County unique from the rest of California?

The warmth of the people and the way we look out for each other here. There is a peaceful vibe here, a slower more intentional pace of doing things; being present for yourself and others. The natural beauty of the Sierra Valley is inspiring!

Janet McHenry - Looking Up!

Janet McHenry - Owner of LookingUp!

Author, speaker, life coach, and former Loyalton High School educator, Janet McHenry started her Looking Up! business in 1986. After 26 years of teaching English, journalism, and creative writing, Janet retired in 2016 to pursue her other businesses full time.

In addition to classroom instruction, Janet also served as academic advisor at LHS and as secretary of The Sierra Schools Foundation (a local educational non-profit), a position she left recently after nearly ten years.

“I have always wanted my life to matter--to make a difference to others,” said Janet. “While attending a women's retreat near Lake Tahoe in 1986, I sensed a calling to write. Within that first year I attended three weeklong writers' conferences and began writing magazine articles and then books a few years later.” Post-retirement, she now works full time as a writer, inspirational speaker, writing conference teacher, writing retreat host, life coach, and online course creator.

“Looking Up! has a double meaning,” she said. “I encourage others to stay positive and

hopeful, but I also write and speak a lot about prayer, so there's the aspect that we can look to God for his help as well.”

“Simply put, my faith motivates me. I follow the calling on my life not for the purpose of making a name for myself and certainly not for money but instead to fulfill God's purpose for me.”

And as a testament to her divine calling, Janet has found no shortage of inspiration. “Ideas simply come to me,” she shared. “I sent my agent yet another possible book idea yesterday. The underlying inspiration comes from two sources: reading the Bible on a daily basis and staying tuned in to my audience and its needs.

“I have an avatar reader--not only an image but also a profile that stays in my head. I watch social media and the news to stay in tune with current thought. And I constantly think: What is needed that's not out there already? I am currently under contract for two more book projects birthed from that sort of thinking.”

Despite the fact that her business is a calling, Janet puts in significant effort to build a successful customer base with a positive culture of engagement for Looking Up! In particular, she connects to clients through digital platforms, with strategic use of social media bringing her the most success in expanding her brand and services.

“In addition to my website,, I am very active on a daily basis on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter,” said Janet. “I have a decent set of connections on Linked In and am admin of several active Facebook groups. I also speak widely, and those in-person and Zoom events build an audience for my books and services. Additionally, I manage a community of writers for a publisher on a contract basis, so those folks also help build my tribe.”

In regard to the climate she creates for her customers and clients, Janet said the most important thing is to create a sense of community through kindness. “Every day I challenge myself to do at least one act of kindness to someone else--even if that's only an uplifting text or email.”

Janet is an accomplished author and a UC Berkeley graduate with a B.A. in Journalism. All of her 24 books have been traditionally published—"most of those while I was still teaching high school English,” she said. However, one of her greatest achievements and most satisfying moments in her career was the publication of her best seller, PrayerWalk.

“My fourteenth book, PrayerWalk, hit bestseller lists in 2001,” Janet said, “after a Health magazine editor wrote a nine-page feature on my prayerwalking. The layout had beautiful photos of Loyalton, and editors at Health later told me they'd never gotten so many letters to the editor in response to an article as they did after that one. PrayerWalk is still in print with a Random House imprint 21 years later.”

Janet also had another bestseller in 2018: 50 Life Lessons for Grads, published by a Hachette

imprint. The life lessons for that book were mostly written by former Loyalton High students who had also finished college. Janet said, “It was delightful putting that book together and sharing their wisdom with the world.” The grad gift book will be available for sale at Lombardi Mercantile during the next couple of months.

Needless to say, retirement has been treating Janet McHenry very well. “I love setting my own daily pace and working from home. I also love the freedom to travel to speak and teach without the confines of a 9-to-5 job. Additionally, connecting with others in the writing community around the country is just so fulfilling, as writers are fascinating people.”

In your opinion, what makes Sierra County a great place to operate a business and/or raise a family?

Sierra County creates community well. Our schools are great; teachers and staff foster an environment of challenge, support, and encouragement that helps students dream big for their lives. Young people are goal-oriented and do quite well after graduation. Craig and I raised all four of our children here, and post-college, they are all doing well in their careers. Our two daughters are both English teachers. Rebekah essentially has my old job at Loyalton High, and Bethany teaches in Honolulu. Our sons followed their rancher dad’s love for agriculture. Justin is Operations VP of Tasteful Selections, a 10-acre mini-potato processing plant building near Bakersfield, and Joshua manages over 500 acres of vineyards near Santa Rosa.

Our community also welcomes newcomers and is supportive of new businesses. The churches are active and caring, and their folks come alongside others to help them out when they are in crisis. We have loved living and working here.

What makes Sierra County unique from the rest of California?

Every day we get to live a life that others only dream about. The surroundings are beautiful, outdoor sports are right out our front doors, and the communities nurture and support one another. People can quickly get involved in local volunteer organizations, churches, politics, and the schools. We are isolated from much of the meanness that exists in urban areas, instead cheering for each other's successes and dividing each other's sorrows. Forty-one years later, we are still glad we decided to call the Sierra Valley our home.

Looking Up!—Janet McHenry, author/speaker/coach—is located at 116 Main St., Loyalton CA 96118

*Check out Janet’s Sierra Valley Writers Retreat, April 21-24 and May 19-22, 2022, with bed and breakfast style accommodations with stunning window views of the alpine grasslands that span across the Sierra Valley floor:

Kim Folchi - Sierra Valley Home Store, Inc. & Lombardi Mercantile

Kim Folchi - Owner of Lombardi Mercantile & Sierra Valley Home Store - with her son, Marco

“If you do what you love you’ll never work a day in your life,” says Kim Folchi, owner and operator of Sierra Valley Home Center and Lombardi Mercantile in Loyalton, CA, “I had no second thoughts about wanting to become an entrepreneur. I was raised in the hardware store, so I just always knew that running a business was what I wanted to do.” A second generation business owner, who is now working with her son as a 3rd generation professional at the hardware store, Kim and her family have been a cornerstone of Sierra County business and community development for decades. “Pride, passion, and family” are the guiding principles of Kim’s companies. “Taking pride in the work that I have such a passion for is a huge motivator for me. Continuing to build the legacy left by my father and passing the torch to my son, Marco, makes me very proud,” said Kim.

“The store name was changed by my father in the 1970’s from Lombardi Mercantile to Sierra

Sierra Valley Home Center, Loyalton, CA

Valley Home Center,” she continued, “He wanted customers to view the store as offering everything for home improvements.” Not to be confused with her second business, which Kim established in 2020 (with a 4th of July launch date), the Lombardi Mercantile antique shop, which also showcases various local artists and their masterpieces. “I have been collecting antiques for years now,” says Kim, “Vacations were always about finding treasures. The historical former Sierra Valley Creamery building that I own sat empty and I always felt that it, and Loyalton’s Main Street, deserved better.”

“It was by far the easiest decision when planning this business. I took the former name of the hardware store next door. I was raised in the old Lombardi Mercantile, knew the original owners Attilio & Panola Lombardi as a young girl and always had such fond memories of them. The 1928 building that the Mercantile is now in was also owned by the Lombardis.

Lombardi Mercantile, Loyalton, CA

When asked how she manages both of her business, and their distinct customer needs, Kim spoke passionately about her business customer-centered approach, paired with quality inventory. “Rural tourism is a growing industry and I hope that our antique offerings will continue to bring customers back,” said Kim about Lombardi Mercantile, “For the hardware store, I try to gain customer confidence by #1-offering a wide array of not only practical, necessary, and useful products but unique ones as well and, #2-our friendly and smiling faces when helping customers. Building, plus retaining customer trust, is pivotal in any business, but even more so in a small community where your customers are also your neighbors. We never take our customers for granted and we approach each person and sale with confidence that we can get it done for them. We are a small store with big store capabilities.” A “humble swagger” culture, in her own words, keeps Kim focused on improvement, variety, and high caliber customer service that connects the community to a variety of top notch resources.”

“I focus on keeping the old nostalgic country store feel in the hardware with creaky wooden

Kim & her husband, Tony, at the Grand Opening of the Mercantile

floors and products from the floor to the ceiling,” said Kim, “ I also try to find value in both old and new products. At one point customers were requesting used pallets for building things. We did a Facebook post on what could be created from an old pallet and ended up being featured in a national hardware magazine. I look and listen for what people are asking for that may not be easily found locally. For instance, we began carrying two types of rock from Folchi’s Rock Garden in Beckwourth for customers asking for smaller amounts. We also found that selling fresh flowers and plants from a Lassen County greenhouse to be very successful every May around Mother’s Day.”

“ A few years ago I had the Store Development Manager from Do It Best Corp (our national hardware co-op) walk through the hardware looking for ways to improve the store,” said Kim, reflecting on one of most satisfying moments in running the Sierra Valley Home Center, “After the full tour we went to my office, sat down with a cup of coffee and he said with a smile ‘I wouldn’t change a thing about your store’.”

Kim and her husband take a similar approach when hunting for inventory for the Lombardi

Lombardi Mercantile sign

Mercantile as well. “Specializing in the unique items, my husband, Tony, and I have spent years searching for the unusual,” said Kim, “It is so much fun with the history and the hunt that is involved with antiques. I like to bring that to others, to allow the old to be new again with another person. I love to attend antique shows around the country and see new ideas to make the ‘old’ look great!” And “finding that one special treasure for a customer” is the true treasure of operating the Lombardi Mercantile.

“Our grand opening on July 4, 2020, surrounded by family, friends and customers, was one of the most challenging and rewarding times in Kim’s extensive history as a business owner in Sierra County. “We were halfway through creating this business when COVID hit, but it was the best decision ever to move forward with opening.”

Spring at Sierra Valley Home Center, Inc.

What is your favorite aspect of being an entrepreneur? The challenges! In the hardware business there are new challenges every day and they change constantly. You must switch gears from plumbing to electrical to paint, etc. in a short amount of time.

In your opinion, what makes Sierra County a great place to operate a business and/or raise a family?

My two sons were raised in the hardware store, as I was. There was a crib in the office, a baby backpack on my back, their grandpa or employees ready to take charge if a customer requested my help. The boys had a great childhood not only in the hardware store, but living in our beautiful community as well. Running a business while raising a family requires 8 days in the week, but because of this area/my community I have had a very fulfilling career. It’s a good life.

Things are still simple here. I often get compliments about that from out of town customers, and they are right.

What makes Sierra County unique from the reset of California?

I’ve noticed that over the years the new “California Dream” is not necessarily to move to the city and make it big, but to return to a simpler time and location where you knew your neighbors and the community at large. I believe that Sierra County, and particularly my native Loyalton, is that place for many people and their vision of living in Mayberry.

Plus, there are no stoplights!

Lombardi Mercantile is located at 402 4th Street, Loyalton, CA

Sierra Valley Home Center, Inc. is located 411 Main Street, Loyalton, CA



Cindy Haubl - Sierra Pines Resort

Cindy Haubl - Owner of Sierra Pines Resort

Tucked away in the quiet community of Sierra City, CA, under the shade of the Tahoe National Forest and the craggy cliffs of the Sierra Buttes, Sierra Pines Resort sits peacefully along the emerald green waters of the North Yuba River, with guest lodging dotting the banks for 1/3 of a mile. In the hotel and restaurant lobby, guests tip-toe around a century old Royal Ann Cherry Tree, finding their way to the trout pond in order to catch their dinner for the evening. Children tug at their parents as they prance toward the waterfall hidden at the back of the property, weaving through the various buildings and structures from the resort and Old Boterro Ranch, which supplied produce and dairy products to the local miners before becoming the Sierra Buttes Inn in 1925. The oldest standing structure on site is a 150-year-old barn from the early gold rush era of Sierra County. This was exactly what Cindy Haubl and her husband, Glen, were looking for: Home.

Moving to Sierra County was a life changing experience for the business owners, who

Barn at Sierra Pines, Sierra City, CA

purchased the locally-famous Sierra Pines Resort, previously called Herrington’s Sierra Pines, in 2019 right before the pandemic hit the international stage. After a career in tourism, marketing, and project management, and B.A. in French Literature from UC Santa Barbara, Cindy was ready to start a new adventure in the Sierra Nevada—set her own schedule and have creative control and flexibility in her finances. And in three short years, the pair fell in love with the region, and the community. Cindy is a founding member and secretary of the Sierra County Visitors Bureau nonprofit, Vice President of the Sierra County Chamber of Commerce, and a supporter of Downieville Schools and Downieville Jr./Sr. High’s Career Day as a booth operator and guest speaker.

View of the Sierra Buttes from the resort

With Herrington’s having a strong and loyal customer-base as a part of an already well-established business—in many ways, Cindy’s transition into Sierra County was smooth. Right away, she and Glen felt like they were part of the Sierra Pines and Sierra City family. Guests and community members began to wonder if Cindy and Glen hadn’t always been a part of Sierra County. “We like to think of our employees as family and treat them with the utmost respect. Thankfully the former owner did the same, “said Cindy about her approach to creating a positive work culture in her organization. “We rely heavily on repeat business, but Facebook & Instagram have really been a huge help too.” Ultimately, it’s the happy customers and quality connections that are the root of success for Cindy’s Sierra Pines Resort. “When customers are so 'over-the-moon' happy that they post about us or send us their other friends and family that’s our most satisfying moment in business,” said Cindy, “We've been blessed with MANY great compliments over the past 4 years.” Hospitality comes naturally to Sierra County, but Cindy and Glen have truly made an inviting and welcoming atmosphere at Sierra Pines Resort, it’s a home away from home.

Sierra Pines Trout Pond

In your opinion, what makes Sierra County a great place to operate a business and/or raise a family?

SUCH a great and caring and cooperative community of kind, caring and educated people!

What makes Sierra County unique from the rest of California?

Mainly our fantastically beautiful landscape, which also forces us to be dependent on only ourselves and be more resourceful. I really do feel like I've found a great community and can ask for help at any time.

Cindy setting up for an outdoor event at Sierra Pines

Sierra Pines Resort is located at 104 Main St., Sierra City, CA



Kathy Fischer - Downieville Day Spa

Kathy Fischer - Owner of Downieville Day Spa

“Kindness, Dependability, and Excellence in my Work” is how Kathy Fischer keeps Downieville Day Spa up and running in the tiny town of Downieville, CA, just off of the historic HWY 49. Along the row of Old-Western facades that add to the rustic and quaint charm of the gold rush era community, a pale lavender and mauve two-story building with a colorful front porch display window sits underneath the lofty balcony of The Mountain Messenger (California’s oldest weekly newspaper). Each day, passerbyers peer into the Downieville Day Spa as they run their morning errands or meander the streets after a mid-day lunch, checking to see what new products with their unique shapes, colors, and marketing techniques, have been added to Kathy’s ever-expanding skin and hair care line. Downieville Day Spa is the only beauty and wellness center for miles in the remote mountain town, and generations of families and community members have walked through Kathy’s doors for prom updos, holiday nail sets, a baby’s first haircut, and to catch up on the goings on around town.

A second generation business owner herself, Kathy has done a lot to expand her brand and

Formal Event Hair Styling at the Downieville Day Spa

the services she offers the tight-knit community and its visitors. “My Mom named it La Sierra Beauty Boutique in the 1970’s,” said Kathy, reflecting on the nostalgia of her business and its development over the years. “The name evolved to just, Downieville Day Spa, for easier search engine optimization and in keeping up with the times. I updated everything to expand my service offerings for Skin care, Nail Care, and Massage along with Hair Care,” the Sierra County native shared. And she is always generating new ideas and trying new techniques! Kathy uses many sources for her creative offerings and is always looking for inspiration for her work. Of course, “paying attention to what clients ask for '' is her number one strategy to run her full-service day spa experience in the Sierra Nevada mountains.

Kathy describes the culture of her organization as “Positive, Authentic, and Caring. Paying attention to my clients and community is the root of establishing this culture.” Relationships are king! And so is Kathy’s care for the Downieville community, as new businesses move in and out of Main Street, some shuttering and never reopening, Kathy is dedicated to keeping Sierra County business alive for the betterment of the community as whole. “I enjoy my community and am loyal to keeping Main Street alive and beautiful,” she said.

Downieville Day Spa, Downieville, CA

In addition to her services at Downieville Day Spa, Kathy has offered Zumba, Line Dance, and other dance classes, even dedicating countless hours to the Downieville Schools for physical education and body movement, as well as to support choreography in the annual Downieville Spring Musical at the Yuba Theater. She is even a graduate from the Emergency Medical Responders program that supports the Frontier Medical and other emergency services in our remote landscapes. An entrepreneur and a woman of many skill sets and talents, Kathy says what draws her into business is the importance of “independence and serving the community.”

“Living in Beauty, Working in Beauty, and Being with Beauty”–Downieville Day Spa is open by appointment and Monday - Saturday 9:00 AM to closing. The Retreat Facial is a must for your next Downieville vacation or special event–Mother’s Day is just around the corner! A 3 step deep pore cleanse, exfoliant with steam, facial massage with nourishing essential oils, skin-condition specific masking, and finishing serums and hydrators (with a hand, foot massage, and scalp massage included)--you will be relaxed, rejuvenated, and refreshed for your next adventure!

What has been your most satisfying moment in business?

So Many!! Firsts, Lasts, Love & Losses. All the human experiences encompassed into the Salon Chair.

In your opinion, what makes Sierra County a great place to operate a business and/or raise a family?

The People who care about- and take action to- keep this a safe, caring, loving community.

What makes Sierra County unique from the rest of California?

The pristine Natural Beauty of the land and water; The simple life of small-town living.

Downieville Day Spa is located at 309 Main St., Downieville, CA


Thank you to all the participants in our interviews!

That concludes our series on the Woman Owned Business of Sierra County for 2022!

Here is a link to our previous publication in our two-part series:

11 Businesses participated in our celebration of Women's History Month this year!



Visit Sierra County (known as the Sierra County Visitors Bureau) coordinates and partners

with the various organizations of Sierra County, California to promote the county’s meetings, events, and travel destinations. Their marketing efforts are focused on driving additional funding to our community to directly benefit local residents' quality of life. Visit Sierra County believes in putting residents first, and continually strives to grow resident pride and enhance the image of Sierra County and its communities: Alleghany, Calpine, Downieville, Goodyear’s Bar, Loyalton, Sattley, Sierra City, Sierraville, and many other vibrant and historical townships.

Visit Sierra County is applying for a 501(c) 3 non-profit charitable organization for economic and community development funded by various grassroots initiatives.

Check out Sierra County's upcoming events here!

Comments, questions, idea? Reach out to our marketing and events director at

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