Guest blog by Melani Wilson
Retail is hard. It’s not all just shopping and displaying and selling. There is bill paying and employee scheduling and incomplete or damaged shipments. Having a start-up business might even be harder. I’ve experienced it with my jewelry business, Melani Wilson Designs—there are moments where you find yourself doing the most boring of tasks and feel like giving up when the muse leaves you. Having this background makes collaborating with many of The Find’s employees and partners with their start-ups all the more fulfilling.
When I first opened The Trove, in Roanoke years ago, I was interviewed by Jennifer Fox for Fort Wayne Magazine. She wrote about us in a voice that felt so natural and spot on in her portrayal of the store. Soon after, I hired her as a freelance writer to write our blog posts. Jen has since further developed and refined our web site, and her marketing skills and creativity helped keep us afloat during this past year. Additionally, I rely on her as an extra set of eyes and ears to try to stay au courant (as she would say) on all stylish things. Even with the array of hats she wears, Jen really finds her muse in her business, FoxSea Skin, a line we naturally offer at The Find. I mean, what is there that this woman can’t do?Visit her web site to see a highly curated selection of goods that represents her values and her vision.
Clockwise from top: Jen Fox, Kaylee Wilson, Julie Wall, Emily Giant
Kaylee Wilson is another integral part of our team who I am delighted to see realize her visions. It has been wonderful to watch her social media consulting company flourish over this last year. While the world seemed to stand still and it was all most of us could do to keep our heads above water, Kaylee bravely left a secure corporate job to pursue her own independent company while continuing to teach yoga and nurture that facet of her life. Her organization and creativity know no bounds and her impact on The Find has been profound. I love working with her and seeing the life that she is making unfold. Follow her on IG @KayleeDeLacyWilson and her blog, Girl Meets Stripes.
Julie Wall, owner, artist and maker at The Hedge, has a unique combination of being an artist with a business-oriented mind. That woman gets stuff done! From her former digs over on Columbia Street to her current, literal, home on Broadway, it has been an honor to watch her journey and to collaborate on a myriad of projects. From developing logo-related products at The Trove, to carrying her items—the oh-so-fun trophies and local oriented ornaments and one of a kind jewelry—at The Find, Julie has added uniqueness and value to my business and our community at large. Currently she is providing design work for our window displays with her vinyl decals—stay tuned to see what she has cooked up for spring!
Other women have been part of The Find’s journey and have gone on to other ventures that align with their passions: Emily Giant who is the brains and brawn behind HyLo Art Farm (@HyLoArtFarm on IG) and still is gracious enough to help out with our displays, Grace Yencerwho has the most uniquely whimsical artistic style and has developed a line of snail mail and paper goods that we feature in the store, Sienna Lohman whose aesthetic helped launch our social media and who has turned her talents to her own blog and social media (@Sienna_Lohman on IG), and Ali Frebel, who I have known since she was a wee lass, is the talent behind Frebella—a line of hand lettered and drawn cards and other products (@Frebella_ on IG). They may no longer be “on the payroll,” but I still consider them part of The Find’s extended family.
Clockwise from top: Grace Yencer, Sienna Lohman, Ali Frebel, Kate Tomkinson
And lastly, two of my original partners at The Trove now have thriving businesses of their own that far exceed our original collaborations. I applaud their courage and wherewithal and am honored to have spent a small amount of time working with them. Kate Tomkinson has gone on to open Trove West in Big Sky, MT and provides that corner of the world with her highly curated sense of style. And R+F’s own Leslie Ferguson has truly found her niche as a business owner and leader in our community.
Through my years of retail, my best moments have been working with others to see where their passions and talents lie. I love having all of these amazing women in my orbit—to check in with, to be inspired by, and to support their passions. And I look forward to future relationships that I will get to be part of because of the privilege I have of being a business owner in downtown Fort Wayne.
Melani Wilson is a life-long resident of northeastern Indiana. A reformed, former lawyer and current serial entrepreneur, Melani’s most recent and longest running business is her jewelry design business, Melani Wilson Designs. The Find, a lifestyle general store in downtown Fort Wayne, is what occupies the majority of her time. She enjoys visiting her kids in Los Angeles and Nashville where she conducts “retail espionage” to bring back the latest lines, trends, and ideas to The Find. When not sitting behind her computer, she is reading a book, hanging out with her dogs and taking walks with her husband, Pete.