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Entrepreneurs team up to offer more gift options downtown

BROOKINGS – Kirsten Gjesdal and Sheri Vaughn are sharing a space at 414 Main Ave. for their complementary businesses, Honeycomb Gifts and Hand-Tied Floral Boutique, and say it’s working out well.

Kirsten Gjesdal and Sheri Vaughn

Honeycomb Gifts

Gjesdal opened Honeycomb Gifts on Oct. 23 as an offshoot of The Carrot Seed Kitchen Co., which she opened in 2015 after starting out in the food business.

Gjesdal grew up in Sioux Falls and majored in hospitality management, with an emphasis in hotel management, at South Dakota State University, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in 2012. 

“Both my husband (Mike) and I really like Brookings, so we’re glad we’re here,” she said.

She did some catering event planning on campus, “so I was in the food service world, even in high school jobs,” she said.

Her heart was in the kitchen, so she opened The Carrot Seed, knowing that a lot of her event planning skills would translate to the new business. 

“To me, it was food service to still food-related with The Carrot Seed, ’cause I really enjoy cooking and baking and wished that there was somewhere to shop for those sorts of things in town. So it made sense to me,” Gjesdal said.

“My heart and soul – I love The Carrot Seed, that is where my passions lie is in the food world, in helping people make delicious meals for their families, that’s what makes me happy,” she said.

While she was happy with what she was doing at The Carrot Seed, Gjesdal saw other needs.

“I feel like I discovered with opening The Carrot Seed that I have some skills in the retail world,” Gjesdal said. “Learned a lot about what Brookings is looking for … what I wish I could find downtown.”

She wasn’t the only one looking for specific items, and that made her see an opportunity.

“Things that people were coming into (The Carrot Seed) and asking for or things that I saw could sell well, but didn’t make sense to carry in a kitchen store,” she said.

Even as the idea for another store took shape, opportunity knocked.

“Hitch Studio was looking for someone to take over their retail section, so they approached me and it was just good timing. Made sense to me,” Gjesdal said.

And so Honeycomb Gifts came to be.

Honeycomb Gifts is where you can find something for just about anybody, she said.

“We’re calling ourselves a modern gifting store, so it’s things that you’d want to give and want to receive as gifts,” Gjesdal said.

Honeycomb offers bath and body products, funny socks, children’s books and toys, stuff for pets, coffee mugs with fun sayings on them, lots of jewelry and scarves and more. 

“We also offer some local art. We have locally made jewelry. Prints from a couple different artists. We have wall hangings and we’d love to see more of that, the professional prints, professional paintings,” Gjesdal said.

“Something for everybody,” Gjesdal said, things that can be used for hostess gifts or last-minute gifts for unexpected guests. “All sorts of things from birthdays, anniversaries, baby showers. We’ve got a little something that will suit every occasion.”

Many items are shaped like a honeycomb cell or stamped with a bee image, which fits well.

“My mom actually came up with (the name),” Gjesdal said. “I wanted it to be something related to flowers, but wasn’t a flower.”

Gjesdal knew Honeycomb was a good fit.

“I think it makes a lot of sense,” she said. 

Not only is it related to flowers – bees pollinate flowers to make their honey – but it reflects the situation.

“This building that we’re in at 414 Main, has six different women-owned businesses in it; that all use this one door, the main door for Honeycomb. So it’s kind of like a beehive with a bunch of really busy worker bees coming in and out with lots of different projects and things going on,” Gjesdahl said.

Hand-Tied Floral

One of those businesses is Hand-Tied Floral Boutique, owned by Vaughn.

She worked at The Carrot Seed but wanted to put her background in design and décor to use.

Originally from South Dakota, Vaughn lived in Minneapolis for 15 years.

“I worked in wholesale floral for about seven years. After that, I worked in visual merchandizing for Nordstrom for seven years, so I’ve been in that creative industry for a good 14 years,” she said.

Visual merchandizing includes arranging store window displays, store layouts and other design, including dressing mannequins, and hanging things from the ceilings.

“Presentation stuff,” Vaughn said. “Kind of just a natural creative, that’s what comes easy for me.”

She knew there were other flower shops in town, but Vaughn wanted to offer something a little different, “a little more novel.”

One of the novel aspects of Hand-Tied is the flower bar.

“A flower bar is where you build your own bouquet, your own masterpiece,” Vaughn said.

She has a variety of stemmed flowers available.

“You’re more than welcome to pick out single stems and create your own. Something a little more – I don’t know, intimate, I guess. You can say ‘hey, I made this for you,’” Vaughn said.

These bouquets can work to acknowledge a new baby, your boss’s birthday, something for grandma or aunts, or as a gift for someone you don’t know well.

“It’s more of a grab-and-go floral concept, I guess,” Vaughn said, adding it’s a concept that’s done in larger cities with boutique stores. “That’s kind of what pushed me to go this direction.”

Hand-Tied specializes in weddings and other events, as well.

Vaughn’s starting out a little small, but that’s OK with her.

“I wanted to start small. … I like small business; I support small business,” she said, adding she wants to “feel out that area” to see how she wants to grow.

One thing she wants to do in the future is enlarge the flower bar.

“We did one actually at The Carrot Seed last spring and we got a really good reaction to it, so I think probably quarterly we’ll do a big one here,” Vaughn said, envisioning more varieties to choose from than she has now.

The future

Both women are busy but looking forward to the future, especially the next month or so.

“Really interested to see how the holiday shopping season goes here. It’s our absolutely busiest time of the year over at The Carrot Seed, so I’m assuming it’s going to be the same here,” Gjesdal said.

“We’re just a fun little gift store, just stop in. There’s a little bit of something for everybody,” Vaughn said.

Contact Jodelle Greiner at jgreiner@brookingsregister.com.

COURTESY OF: The Brookings Register

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