Grace Under Fire: Supporting Two Courageous Women Entrepreneurs


When I was a law student at Penn over 40 years ago, I would often make my way to the West Philadelphia location of Free People's Store, now well known as Urban Outfitters. One of the founders of the store was Judy Wicks, who is no longer affiliated with the business, but went on to achieve many other accomplishments. I had no clue then that my path would cross Judy’s in many ways over the next four decades.  Judy is a serial entrepreneur who founded the Black Cat store next to her much loved restaurant, the White Dog Café, an early exemplar of the farm to table movement.  I have wonderful memories of meals there, as the businesses were across from Penn Law School.  Judy has long been a trailblazer championing local purveyors, using environmentally sound practices and treating her employees and stakeholders fairly.  Judy also donated a significant amount of her business profits to community interests and devoted much of her time to responsible entrepreneurship.  She has been a generous mentor and respected role model for so many, particularly for women and diverse aspiring business owners.  You can learn more about Judy’s accomplishments here, but Judy is now devoting her energies to what may be her greatest challenge.

Given Judy’s unwavering commitment to valuing our resources, it was not surprising that her daughter Grace followed a similar, yet distinctive path as an entrepreneur who was also a responsible steward of our environment. Grace founded and ran her gardening company, Graceful Gardens, based in the Philadelphia area.  Grace brought beauty to many, creating outdoor oases for private and public spaces.  She had the vision to expand into using her skills to promote food sustainability and other initiatives to make the most of scarce resources.  She shares her mother’s passion and unselfish spirit.  Grace, like Judy, has been a generous mentor and civically conscious role model for colleagues, clients and friends.  Many years after my trek to the store Judy co-founded in the 1970s, Grace entered my orbit.  I had the good fortune to collaborate with her and was moved by her warmth and commitment.

Unfortunately, neither Judy nor Grace are able to pursue these initiatives now.  Grace has fallen gravely ill, and Judy has become her principal caregiver. These two amazing women, who have given so much to others, now need our help.  You can read their story here, and if you are able, consider contributing to the GoFundMe campaign initiated to defray the expenses needed to assure Grace has the resources she needs.  Thank you for your consideration of this worthy cause.