Two friends team up in boutique that supports handmade makers.
Many women dream of opening their own business. Few imagine it and open a brick-and-mortar store in less than 45 days. Natalie Krause and Autumn Hill, both mothers of three young children, each with a thriving handmade maker business, did just that in summer 2022.
The duo founded Beloved Makers and Company in downtown Hudson, Wisconsin, turning a former pizza parlor into a light-filled, stylish maker boutique that features home décor, kitchenware, jewelry, body care and more.
The two became acquainted through Mother of Pre-Schoolers in fall 2021. “We chatted about goals and dreams,” Krause says. Both had ideas about opening a storefront someday and had their own thriving business.
Hill, 28, from Hammond, Wisconsin, started Autumn Rose Co., a tee and sweatshirt screenprinting operation. “I wanted a creative outlet in early motherhood,” she says. She taught herself to screenprint and her business, focused on whimsical Wisconsin state designs, was going strong. She sold through her website, an Etsy store and wholesale.
Krause, 30, had recently learned to sew, taught by her mother-in-law, a sewer, who made beautiful clothes for Krause’s three girls. Her sister-in-law embroiders and quilts, and Krause was inspired to make special occasion children’s clothes. They started Eliza Bee Boutique on Etsy using three old sewing machines inherited from their family matriarch.
In spring 2022, they both participated in an outdoor maker’s market. Krause helped Hill prep for the sale.
“I had to find a new location for my screenprinting, and I had an idea about a storefront,” Hill says. Krause had an opportunity for a quilt shop and found a spot but ultimately turned it down. “That brought up a spark of excitement to open a store together,” Hill says.
The concept: A local retail space for handmade makers from Wisconsin and Minnesota, one that would create a community for small businesses and support women like them.
“By July 1, we’d taken over this space [the 127-year-old E.E. Gatchell Building], and we opened August 13,” Krause says.
Both worked day and night with their extended families, kids in tow. Floors and ceilings were redone, walls were torn down and plumbing and electrical were fixed. Legalities, inspections, design choices, everything had to be accomplished in the shortest six weeks of their lives.
The core of the business, getting makers on board, had to happen simultaneously. They secured 42 vendors for the opening. “They took a risk on a new store and trusted us with their products,” Hill says. One was Tanya Gerald, a Stillwater-based, hand-stamped jewelry maker, who loved the concept of the shop. “It’s great to shop handmade local goods and bring them home that day,” Gerald says.
The shop, now more than six months old, is working well, and customers are becoming repeat buyers. Krause and Hill hope to have more open hours, hire staff and add vendors and special events. The duo staffs the shop, depending on family needs, and their kids are often in the store with them. “We have a store baby, not a store cat,” Krause says.
They started Beloved Makers and Company as acquaintances but had to be in constant communication and developed a respectful process for decision-making. Now, the dynamic duo are “best friends, pursuing a dream,” Hill says.
“We want to encourage other women. You can be an amazing mom and have your own dreams,” Hill says.