The Nest Collaborative: Women-Focused Business the Perfect Place to Buy a Gift
Looking around The Nest Collaborative, whimsy and quirk are combined with cutting-edge style and creativity. Felted trolls, hand-mined jewelry and richly scented soaps are just a few of the items that keep shoppers’ eyes moving around this downtown Mt. Clemens store.
However, The Nest Collaborative isn’t just a shopping experience. It’s a learning opportunity for women entrepreneurs.
MANAGER, THE NEST COLLABORATIVE
“The hope was to provide a retail location where an individual could come in with something that was unique to their creative experience, knew they wanted to sell, but didn’t have the resources to go out on their own. The hope was to give them some exposure, so they can get some experience,” said Stephen Staph Jr., owner, The Nest Collaborative.
According to manager Lori Bartone, the timing and message of the store was perfect.
“Most of the businesses in this particular area are women-owned,” said Bartone. “Stephen, in keeping with what was going on, thought that a women-based business would be a good fit for what is already going on down here. It’s a nice community situation.”
Diane Kubik is the owner of Max & Ollies, which is across the street from The Nest. She was part of the team that built the collaborative and still mentors the entrepreneurs.
“The first this is, I think it’s really important to help women realize they can do this,” said Kubik. “I started with absolutely no knowledge when we opened the shop. I learned in such a different way. I learned in the school of hard knocks, so I want to teach these women to do it with their own spin and to have the balls to do it.”
The store opened Nov. 1, 2019, with eight sellers. Some of the ladies were retired and just wanted to sell what they made, others were trying to launch careers. The combination was perfect.
“The older ones, who are retired, can teach the young ones, and the young ones can teach the older ones about Instagram and social media,” Bartone said.
The Nest Collaborative works by renting space to the ladies. “There’s a split from what they earn versus what they pay to stay here,” explained Bartone. “We’re trying to get out there, trying to help Mt. Clemens, trying to help these women.”
Bartone is enthusiastic when she gives tours around the store, almost as if she’s bragging about her own children. She knows the backstories, origins and muses behind the ladies who showcase their work at the store. Explaining that to create the jewelry in this display, the artist travels all over to mine the precious rocks and gems she then polishes and sets to perfection.
Proudly, she explains that the felted trolls are all handmade, down to the little, sculpted toes. Reveling in the scent of her favorite handmade soap, it’s easy to see that she has a stake in the success in each of these women.
“It’s been a privilege for me to be with these women and to see their hopes and dreams. That’s a big bonus, if they get to go into their own businesses. The hope is they go out with enough confidence,” she said.
Check Out This Week's Mount Clemens City News
Bartone and the other mentors also coach the ladies on presentation and product displays and other learning opportunities.
“We teach problem solving, try to remain calm, the issue is the issue,” said Bartone. “How are you going to solve it? When you go out on your own, it will be 80 hours a week. What do we have to offer you? What are your questions, what are your needs?”
Other female business leaders in the area have joined in to help.
“We have this established core of female business owners, so we can kind of hitch on to that and hope the existing sorority could be role models of the new ladies coming to town,” said Staph.
In addition to providing a springboard for female entrepreneurs, The Nest Collaborative was also meant as a way to help revitalize an ailing downtown.
“I’ve been involved in my father’s agency since 1983,” Staph recalled. “I came to this town as a kid, saw it during its more vibrant retail days and for the last 10 or 11 years, served on the Downtown Development Authority board. We desperately had a need to get some more attraction down here.”
Staph knew the space was available, so he took it. A bit of remodeling to give the vendors a blank slate to work on, and The Nest Collaborative was born.
“If you look about the store, you see a variety of items. I just wanted to have a bright available space,” said Staph. “I wanted to make it as user-friendly as possible.”
While shoppers will probably never find the same thing twice in the store, it’s a treasure trove of gift ideas and inspiration.
But it’s also a little something more.
“It’s the beginning of their dream and where they’re going to go,” said Bartone.