EVART — The owner of Juneberry Cottage in Evart recently received the Middle Michigan Development Small Business Award in recognition of her work within the community.
June-Marie Essner first opened Juneberry Cottage, 220 N. Main St., in 2014 and has built it up to a destination store dedicated to the art of quilting, sewing and quality fabrics.
Essner said being a recipient of the award was positive proof of the work she has put into her business.
“It’s a grand honor because I do work hard,” Essner said. “We are a small community, and a lot of people, I think, in their mind, marginalize Evart because we are not a super affluent community. Quilting is definitely a discretionary niche market. I feel like this area, it’s doing well, and that’s just a lot of hard work. I’m proud of the fact that I am being involved in the community.”
Essner is a member of the Evart Downtown Board and the Evart Garden Club, and she networks often with small business owners in the area. She also helped manage Evart’s farmers market while it was in season.
Being a part of the quilting community has been one of the best aspects of owning Juneberry Cottage, according to Essner.
“Quilting is great for the brain and helps to offset depression, dementia and Alzheimer’s and blood pressure,” Essner said. “It’s shown in studies that doing sewing and a craft like this helps. There is a lot of satisfaction in saying ‘I started this project from beginning to end and finished it.’”
Juneberry Cottage sells top-of-the-line Bernina and Bernette sewing and embroidering machines. Essner also utilizes some more introductory machines in her sewing and quilting classes.
In addition to the smaller style Bernina machines for sale, Juneberry Cottage also has a long-arm sewing machine available to rent for projects.
Classes Essner hosts for quilters and sewers include introductory sewing and quilting, free motion quilting, open sew and hand work, intro and advanced paper piecing, and Bernina and Bernette machine orientations.
Some new fabrics she is excited to now be carrying include patterns based on paintings by Stephanie Brandenburg with Frond Design Studios.
Essner hopes to be able to grow her business, fabrics and machine collection by someday buying a larger business space.
Expanding would also allow her to host larger quilting and sewing classes for the community and visitors. She also aims to keep networking and connecting with quilt lovers across Michigan.
Essner said her advice to aspiring and current small business owners is to make connections. She currently hosts a forum once a month with creative retailers which gives her ideas and also just helps process challenges and how to address them.
“I would highly recommend if there’s a Downtown Development Authority or some kind of economic development organization in the town to get a hold of them and talk to them,” Essner said. “There are things that I’m still learning and you’re constantly learning. Be involved in focus groups with other retailers in your industry and if you can, outside of your industry. Definitely get some kind of networking like that.”
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