LOUISIANA—When Jodie Ries and Tiffanie Kurz started their business—Handmade Harvests—last October they had no idea it would grow so quickly. The popularity of their products, which they were selling at vendor events and online, showed them that they also needed a physical footprint in town.
On Friday, Ries and Kurz held a grand opening of their shop at 305 Georgia Street. In the two weeks since opening their door, Ries said, the store has been well received in the community. Members of Louisiana’s Chamber of Commerce were there to welcome their newest member to the fold.
Ries and Kurz came up with the store’s name together. Ries said they wanted a name that would highlight the products they were making.
“We wanted something that was original, because we first started with our soaps and our sugar sprouts, so it was all-natural,” she said. “We wanted something in our name to present what our products were.”
Opening the store also gave them room for the equipment they use to create their all-natural soaps and creams. They also needed the space in order to expand what they were offering, Ries said.
“We also wanted to bring something different to Louisiana,” she added. Plus, they liked the area and wanted to have their business in their community. The shop on Georgia was the fourth building they looked at when deciding on their expansion into a brick and mortar store.
She noted that the building’s owner was reluctant to show it to them and was hesitant when they offered to buy it instead of just renting.
“He hadn’t considered it before, but we were able to talk him into it,” Ries said. “Because it’s a historic building, we had to draw up the plans for everything we wanted to do to the outside.”
Their proposal was approved, she said, “So, hopefully, by the end of this year, the entire front of the store will have a complete re-haul.” They want to put in new windows, woodwork and paint. “Pretty much everything, but the front doors.”
“We also have permission to take the mural that was on the old Ice House and put it on the side of our building,” she said.
Right now, it’s just Ries and Kurz working the store. But, if they get bigger, she noted, they have expansion goals already in mind.
“We would purchase another building and start (a different business), Ries said. “We talked about the possibility of a homemade ice cream shop.”
“We’ve been open for just two weeks,” she said, “but we’ve done tremendously well. We have been very welcome here.”
For the summer, Ries said, their hours are from 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., Wednesday through Saturday and noon to 4 p.m. on Sunday. The hours will change when school starts back up in the fall because Ries is also a teacher. Once they get closer to that time, they will have a better idea on their fall hours, but she did say they would extend their hours around the holidays.
For the T-shirts and tumblers they sell, Ries said, they take customization orders. All their soaps and other body products are natural, without any preservatives or additives. There is also a men’s line of these products. They also offer a variety of home décor, clothing, shoes and accessories, as well as purses and wallets.
Ries said they have new items coming in every week. Customers should keep an eye on the shop’s Facebook page (@handmadeharvests), she added, because that is where they will show the updates to their inventory.