When Alice Nichols presented a business plan for what would become a successful pet-accessory company to a consultant, she was shocked by the response. “This is good,” the consultant said. “Did your husband write it?” It was 1984 and much has changed, both for women in business and Nichols, pictured above with her new puppy, Minnie. Up Country, the startup she founded that year, now employs 30 in an East Providence studio. The firm started with six designs for dog leashes and collars and now has 120 for those and a host of other products sold worldwide.