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From homestead to boutique

Business that started at home gets its own brick-and-mortar store

 

When The Homestead Boutique debuted last month, it was a dream realized for its owners.

“It was making a dream we had for a long time come true,” Angela Moller said.

She owns the shop, at 415 E. William St. in Albert Lea, with her husband, Matt Moller.

The couple started their own business, Homestead Design, out of their Glenville home about three years ago. Prior to delving into the business full-time, Angela Moller worked as a graphic designer and Matt Moller was a plumber.

The couple thought Homestead Design would start as a furniture business, until Angela Moller said the tabletop to one of their miniature prototypes became their first design for a decorative sign.

They then started with a Facebook page, and six months later hit their first event — one of Albert Lea’s Wind Down Wednesday festivals. Moller said it was the best possible way to start, as the community was excited and the couple got to meet other makers right from the start who offered their support and advice.

Last year, Moller said they decided to hit the maker and vendor shows hard, branching out to take their offerings to shows as far as two hours away. She said that was when they started examining what their goals were for their business — should they branch out further, increase their online presence, consign with other stores? They did a bit of everything, eventually finding a groove between the right number of shows and stores to consign with, she said.

Eventually, she said they made the decision that their best priority was to focus on local customers. While hitting shows closer to the area and still having a strong online customer base, Homestead Design then partnered with other local entrepreneurs to form The Boutique at Dinah’s Style in time for Small Business Saturday 2018.

When their partners at the boutique decided they wanted to get out of the business, Moller said the couple knew they had a decision to make about whether to continue on with the physical location.

So, the couple jumped in ful lforce  and renamed the boutique to reflect their Homestead business, opening as The Homestead Boutique on Sept. 1 this year. They still consign with Dwell Local’s Rochester and Zumbrota locations, but otherwise their focus is on serving their local community, Moller said.

While their journey to opening their own store could be seen as fast, Moller said it was not without its challenges and learning opportunities. Having the business together in general has taught the couple how to learn to work together, she said, especially since they have different ways of communicating and organizing.  It has taught them to bring out the other’s strengths and to learn how to keep the peace.

The business challenges with owning their own store were also tricky to navigate at first, especially how to continue to maintain a retirement plan and how to manage health insurance. Moller said she wishes there were more resources available for those kinds of topics, as the couple has had to figure it out as they’ve gone further into the business world.

One of the greatest rewards of the business, though, Moller said, is that the couple have been able to teach their four children that they can do anything, and they can turn their gifts and talents into a career. Their children have helped with the business, especially when they do make-and-take classes or other events, and one of their daughters has been making keychains to sell in the store. Moller said she hopes to also take the pressure off of her children thinking they have to have everything figured out or know exactly what they want to do when they grow up.

“It’s not easy, but it’s possible and it’s worth it,” Moller said.

With opening their location in Albert Lea, Moller said she quickly realized how excited the community is to have its own small businesses. She said there have also been out-of-town customers stopping in to say they love seeing the smaller, but more unique shops.

“People are starting to see Albert Lea as a fun daytrip shopping destination,” Moller said.

While Homestead Design largely offers cozy home decor, The Homestead Boutique expands on those offerings. The brick-and-mortar store offers clothing and other items, — such as handmade jewelry and soaps, some of which are made by other local artisans and makers. As a whole, Moller said Homestead Design and The Homestead Boutique are meant to be an extension of their own home; a cozy, comfortable atmosphere.

While the clothing side has been a new aspect to their business, Moller said it has been fun to learn and she enjoys hearing community input — writing down what people tell her or comment on social media as far as what they’d like to see in the store. She said she likes to be able to offer casual styles for reasonable prices, and likes being able to offer them in different sizes — from small to 3X.

The Homestead Boutique is open regularly from noon to 6 p.m. Wednesday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Friday and 9 a.m. to noon Saturday. The shop will open for other events as they happen, which can be found on The Homestead Boutique’s Facebook page.

 

About Colleen Harrison

Colleen Harrison is the photo editor at the Albert Lea Tribune. She does photography and writes general-assignment stories.

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