There is charisma, culture and class in the cornfields of Delphi, and three businesswomen leading their profession from the Delphi Opera building complex embody and exemplify that.
Inger Cowan and Cynthia Lashley are co-owners of Empire Consignment, a high-end designer boutique for women, and iNc Empire LLC, an employment agency.
Robin Williams is Executive Director and Curator of the newly renovated Delphi Opera House. The trio’s respective businesses are based on South Washington Street, just above and adjacent to the Opera House Gallery of Contemporary Arts.
The occupants of the Opera include an exemplary team of talent, grace and moxie.
That’s why Cowan and Lashley stunned the Carroll County Holiday Awards’ annual December banquet by earning its highest and most prestigious honor when they were awarded as Company of the Year by the Chamber of Commerce. of Carroll County.
“We were shocked to win this award,” Cowan admitted. “We weren’t prepared. While we have great support in the community, we weren’t expecting to just win in our second year of operation. “
Lashley echoed his partner’s feelings. “There are so many great businesses in the county that have been around for an exceptionally long time and are very well known. Honestly, we never thought we had a chance. We were really surprised to have even been nominated.
The mayor of Delphi, Anita Werling, told this reporter that night that she voted for the owners of the Empire Consignment.
“Anita was one of our biggest supporters even before we were approved by the Conservation Society to enter (The Opera House),” Cowan said.
“It’s so nice of him!” Lashley added of Mayor Werling.
What was the winning ingredient – their company’s sales, their twin personalities, or just their Ooh La La?
“I would love to think of all of the above,” Cowan said with a laugh. “In reality, these are our customers. We have clients all over the country. Both of our companies have a footprint outside of Delphi, but I think we’re doing very well here. If social media isn’t part of your business plan, you’re missing out. This is something that we are looking to develop even further in 2022.
The trio already have exciting and politically approved plans for 2022.
“We all have unique styles,” Cowan said. “We were drawn to each other because we bring a completely different presence and style to Delphi, and we love each other. The first time I laid eyes on Robin I knew we were going to be friends, and she was very well accepted here.
Thursday marked the epiphany and official start of the Mardi Gras season, and the announcement that three dynamic ladies in the opera building in downtown Delphi are leading the charge to create a new cultural celebration to liven up the community this winter.
“Our next big thing that we’re all passionate about is Mardi Gras,” Cowan revealed. “The new person # 1 here, Robin, she came in with a Mardi Gras idea for the Opera, and my business partner and I are running with. We’re also trying to throw a Mardi Gras parade. We just got it. city council approval for this.
Cowan continued, “We want to bring something new here. It’s going to be quite different. I’m so glad Robin threw this on, so now we’re jumping on the bandwagon. It will be exciting for us to know that we are part of starting a new tradition here and starting something multicultural, which will bring a whole new experience to people.
“I’m so excited about this! We’re bringing a taste of New Orleans to Delphi, ”Lashley added fervently. “This could be the start of a whole new annual celebration for the region that will bring people from all over to our lovely community.
“For our business, it gives us a chance to get unique items for Mardi Gras and to decorate the store Mardi Gras style,” she continued. “Robin will help us with that. She has an excellent style and has lived in New Orleans.
Williams was previously director of the New Orleans Jazz Institute and former director of the City of Indianapolis Arts Center when she developed the “Mardi Gras Mambo Parade” on Massachusetts Avenue in downtown Indianapolis.
“This parade was supported by all the companies on Mass Ave,” Williams remembers proudly. “Twenty years later, you see the incredible development of the downtown Indianapolis art scene on the avenue. I passionately believe that when we come together to create excitement in downtown Delphi, we have the same potential to fuel the creative economy, not only for Opera and the Delphi Empire, but for all. unique merchants located in the city center.
“Mardi Gras in Delphi” opens January 15th with “Do It in Delphi” and January 16th with Rebirth Brass Band. There will be several events over the coming weeks, including mask-making workshops and New Orleans food and drink at local restaurants, culminating on February 26 with a Mardi Gras parade in the center. city of Delphi and a Mardi Gras Blues Ball at the Opera later. evening.
Lashley, who lives in Carroll County, and Cowan, a native of Orange County, Calif., Who now lives in downtown Delphi, were once fierce competitors for another sales company.
“So we decided we were either going to team up and be stronger or we were just going to get on with it. We were often number one and two. Fortunately, we saw our strength in each other and decided to go it alone. “
Williams comes to Delphi Opera House after directing the Fulton County Arts Center in Atlanta. His family home is Kokomo.
“Honestly, I think it’s kismet that the three of us unique women ended up in the same building in the same place at the same time,” she said. “It takes a lot of confidence to present something new, dynamic and exciting for people who may never have experienced it before, and the three of us ladies embody collective creative verve and confidence. As an art curator and presenter, I have always believed that life is a celebration. The art of adornment, fashion, music and cheerfulness help us express the joys of living, and that’s what we stand for.
There is a common thread that ties the three women together, Williams said. “We are all very creative women. At least I have some powerful friends around me. We don’t walk the cornfields alone.
Their friendship is rare, Cowan admitted. “Women tend to be more competitive with each other instead of looking at each other’s strengths, admiring them and wanting to be friends because of them. It takes extraordinarily strong and confident women to see, recognize and want to engage because of their strengths.
“I think a lot of times when people think of Delphi, they think of backwoods… You’ve got some really stylish people here,” Cowan is convinced. “I often tell people, ‘Don’t push us aside.’ When you go to a small town of 3,000 people and there are six banks in our town, don’t write us off. There is money here and obviously style and class too.