A ‘Berry’ inspiring journey

Berry Hill Boutique owner Melissa Van Beck stands in her pop-up store inside of There’s No Place Like Home, 25 S. Main St., in Oconomowoc.

 

OCONOMOWOC — A local woman who first found success on Etsy has opened a pop-up shop in There’s No Place Like Home at 25 S. Main St.

Berry Hill Boutique owner Melissa Van Beck’s story began in the summer of 2017 when one of her friends had showed her a onesie she had made for a gift and Van Beck realized she wanted to make that her business.

“I’ve always had an entrepreneurial spirit and I wanted to be able to stay home with my daughter,” Van Beck said. “I’ve always loved fashion and been creative. I actually looked at starting a T-shirt business several years prior.”

Berry Hill Boutique sells personalized items such as “mommy and me” clothing — which she thinks has seen a resurgence — as well as custom designs for any person big or small.

Being on Etsy has allowed Van Beck to sell her products around the world, she said.

Van Beck said after reading reviews and comments on her clothing she realized how important her work was to some families and how the clothes aren’t just clothes — they’re keepsakes.

“I realized how meaningful it was — and even still sometimes it’s easy to get caught up in the work of it, especially being online and I don’t see these people — once I realized it, it has helped change the way I create,” she said.

Van Beck’s initial small operation was run with a device similar to a Cricut, which prints designs onto fabric and other materials. Working through the summer, Van Beck created a product she thought was salable and opened her proverbial doors on Etsy in October 2017.

The following winter, for Christmas her parents helped her purchase a sublimation printer that would help kickstart her business to be the quality she wanted it to be.

“That’s when I was able to do full quality and good quality, nothing that’s going to peel or fall off,” Van Beck said. “Then I really got going with that printer.”

However, Van Beck soon ran into a major barrier in her life. In April 2018 she was feeling sick and a few days after not feeling like herself she was hospitalized and kept in intensive care.

Van Beck was diagnosed with Lemierre’s syndrome and had to take a slew of antibiotics for two months after she was out of the hospital.

Van Beck had to shut down her operations for five months. At one point she didn’t know if she’d be able to come back to her business.

“I just had no energy and had my daughter to take care of,” she said.

But once she began to feel better, Van Beck came back with a vengeance in summer of 2018, she said.

“I mentally prepared all those months of what I was going to do,” Van Beck said. “Things just took off, I worked hard, it didn’t just happen over night. I worked really hard and I have been growing every year since.”

Having been working as hard as she has been the last two-and-a-half years, Van Beck said it has been surreal to take a second and realize people want to hear her story.

“I didn’t even realize how far I had actually come,” Van Beck said. It means a lot to me to now have it shown to me how far I have actually come and how people really care and tell me how inspirational my story is.”

Van Beck, a Mukwonago native, said Oconomowoc’s community-driven downtown and how many families she saw walking around were reasons she wanted to settle down with her family in the city.

“It just made sense for us to put some roots here in Lake Country,” she said.

Van Beck said she is hoping to branch out from Etsy and have some of her well-liked designs shifted to her website where new styles and garments will be available, as well as have people come into the popup shop for gifts and other clothing.

Van Beck’s space in There’s No Place Like Home is currently open as she puts the finishing touches on the space. She said she plans on having the space, along with a new website finished in early March.

For more information on Berry Hill Boutique, visit the Facebook page facebook.com/berryhillboutique.