FARMINGTON – Twenty years ago, Susun Terese discovered synthetic fleece and used it to make a hat for her baby daughter.

Soon, she was selling fleece clothing at craft shows. Ten years ago, she opened Minikins on Main Street. Now, her daughter is a mother, and Terese’s granddaughter has more than enough fleece hats, not to mention fleece coats, fleece scarves and fleece mittens.

Terese is looking to get out of the retail business, and plans to sell her store, she said Friday. But for 20 years, she loved owning it. She loved working with the women who did piecework for the store. She loved creating the designs for the children’s clothing.

She learned to have faith in herself, and that she didn’t have to follow the rules to succeed.

Her wisdom and achievements, and those of 13 other Maine businesswomen, will be showcased Wednesday, when a book about them is unveiled.

A few years ago, members of the University of Maine at Farmington’s women’s studies department and two nonprofit organizations – Coastal Enterprises Inc. of Wiscasset and Western Mountains Alliance of Farmington – started researching local business women.

UMF students interviewed 14 businesswomen from around Maine and wrote their stories.

“Telling Their Stories: Women Business Owners in Western Maine” is being unveiled Wednesday at the North Dining Hall in the Olsen Student Center at UMF.

“The stories are amazing,” WMA representative Kathleen Beauregard said Thursday. Like Terese, many of the women applied lessons they’d learned in their personal lives to business, or vice versa.

“It takes passion, it takes perseverance, and it takes the application of a lot of life skills the women have gained over time, and applying those life skills to the business world, to really make it work,” Beauregard said.

At 11 a.m. Wednesday, the women entrepreneurs and the women who worked to tell their stories will meet at the North Dining Hall, where many of them will see the book they created together for the first time.

Terese says she’s excited to see the book, her interviewers, and the other entrepreneurs again. Being involved in the project widened her horizons a bit, she said. “It made me appreciate that there are other women out there, on their own, doing the same thing, in a comforting kind of way,” she said.

For more information about the book or Wednesday’s event, phone Beauregard at (207) 778-7528.

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