By Jennifer Kotila
HOWARD LAKE, MN After two years of operating their businesses out of their homes, Danielle Kuznia and Lacy Christopherson decided it was time to open a storefront to make their services and products more accessible.
The new store, The Carriage House, is located on the north side of US Highway 12 between Eighth and Ninth avenues in Howard Lake.
Kuznia operates Handspun by Kisses and The Kisses Boutique, and Christopherson operates That Chic With a Camera.
During the store’s “sneak peak” July 15, there was a steady flow of customers from noon to 6 p.m., all with positive comments, Kuznia said.
The young, lively women met and became friends on Facebook when one of Christopherson’s friends liked Kuznia’s page.
“We established an amazing friendship through Facebook,” Christopherson said.
That friendship became a business partnership, as well, when Christopherson began using items Kuznia had made as props in her photography.
Kuznia hand-spins alpaca, sheep, llama, and angora wool into yarn, and makes interesting items whether they be sewn, crocheted, or knitted.
“When I would have a photography session, I would use her things, and people loved them,” Christopherson said.
Both women began their businesses about two years ago, and their solid customer base made them feel comfortable with opening a store.
They have strived to create a “cozy, warm place” that is family-friendly, and it is not uncommon to hear a lot of giggling or find their children in the store with them, Kuznia said.
The boutique is located in the front of the store, and everything is handmade, either by Kuznia or other local craftspeople.
Kuznia’s great-aunt taught her to crochet when she was 14, and she has been sewing since she was 5 years old and in 4-H.
“People like handmade stuff something they can feel good about giving as a gift,” Kuznia said. “Something handmade that someone spent time making.”
A lot of Kuznia’s business comes from people who custom-order items to be made, she said.
“The boutique side of the store will be changing all the time with the seasons, sales, and holidays,” Kuznia said.
The photo studio is located behind the boutique. Christopherson said she was the friend or relative who always had the camera to her face taking photos when going out.
When she became a mom, she wanted to learn more about technique. She has really focused on her photography in the past few years, learning everything she could from other photographers, books, and by taking some classes.
After each session, she offers a CD of all the photos and copyright releases. She also places all the photos in an online gallery, where clients can order professional prints.
Photos can be taken in the studio or on location, and Christopherson is often assisted by Kuznia when photographing weddings.
The women are also planning to bring new life to Howard Lake by connecting with other businesses and starting a ladies’ night in the community, Christopherson said.
“I also want to start classes for crocheting and spinning wool,” Kuznia said.
“We want to get something going, especially in this side of town,” Christopherson said. “It’s always so quiet nothing going on.”
A grand opening for the store will take place Friday and Saturday, Aug. 10-11, at which there will be sales and specials, prizes, and refreshments.
Although the store is an occasional store, and does not have set hours, people can look to see when the store will be open at www.facebook.com/thecarriagehouse.mn.
The store will also be open on an occasional basis, whenever Christopherson is using the photo studio.