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Rushford business gets simple


By Kirsten Zoellner

Fri, Apr 12th, 2013
Posted in Rushford Features

Five years, four kids and one successful business later and Rushford’s exclusive baby boutique, Cloth Diapers Today has new owners, a new location, and a new name. What began in February 2008 for energetic mom Tina Darr to showcase her interest in cloth diapering to other parents has now sprouted into a fresh new business for Rushford sisters Audrey Wenzel and Amanda Ziebell: Simple. A Baby Store.

For Darr, the business was an obvious one. “I wanted other parents to be able to learn about cloth diapers and inspect them to see what would work best for their families. Buying on the Internet without seeing the products can leave parents upset and cause them to abandon using cloth. They might find the product they ordered was much different than what they thought they were getting. By opening a store, I was able to help parents find what they wanted so they could be successful with cloth diapers and save money.”

Now, with her young brood successfully out of diapers and busy homeschooling them, Darr felt it was time for a change. “It was time for fresh energy and ideas as my focuses switched. I’ve spent a lot of time cleaning and organizing now that part of my home is no longer a store. It’s been much easier to focus more on teaching our children. With spring coming soon I will have more time for gardening and biking on the local trails.”

Deciding to put the business, including all inventory and clientele lists, up for sale, has played out well for Darr, as the decision to sell and the sale all happened within a short span of a few weeks. “We emailed a few times before our first meeting March 21. She called and let me know the following day of her intentions to buy. Our closing was March 29,” she says. “It was an exciting whirlwind and the speed at which it happened really confirmed that the decision to sell and who was buying was right. It is truly fortunate that a friend purchased the store. Knowing the person who was buying the store I put so much work into making is someone of integrity is comforting,” she adds.

For the new buyers, two enthusiastic and strong women, a business is something they’ve looked at for many years. “We pretty much always wanted to do a business. We talk by phone every morning and have been brainstorming ideas for years,” notes Wenzel. “We even have a folder called ‘brilliant ideas for the future’ where we have kept invention and business ideas,” she laughs.

Until now, there just didn’t seem to be the right time or the right opportunity for the duo. Life kept happening; school for Amanda, babies for Audrey. The timing just wasn’t right. When Darr announced she was selling the store, Wenzel’s husband Mike suggested they consider the possibility and encouraged them to take the chance, even offering to sell some of his livestock to generate a portion of the startup capital that would be needed to get it going. “I’ve been a loyal customer and I’m really invested in supporting local moms,” stresses Wenzel. “It just seemed like the right fit at the right time.”

The transition has gone equally smooth for the new owners. “I think we both knew it was going to happen, but we needed to make sure we were both solidly committed and that we felt like we were entering the process as equals. It wasn’t long, though, until the conversation moved from ‘Should we do this?’ to ‘How should we do this?’ to ‘We are doing this!’”

With the sisters’ backgrounds, it isn’t any wonder that the business has come about so quickly and easily. Both raised in Rushford, they were brought up in an eco-friendly, green family. “Not because it was the cool thing to do, but because our resources were limited,” notes Wenzel. “Amanda sometimes says, ‘I grew up organically by accident.’ Our family resources were limited, but our parents valued providing a healthy home so we grew or raised much of our food, learned to up-cycle or refurbish things and understood the value of reusable and homemade products at an early age. Nowadays, there is the idea that being eco-friendly has to be expensive or is only for people with unlimited resources. We know that isn’t true. Our experience taught us that a natural, healthy, eco-friendly lifestyle doesn’t have to be expensive or complicated. It can be simple.”

Educational, professional, and hands-on experience is another positive for the new owners. Ziebell has a Bachelor of Arts from Hamline University, with a Masters in Organizational Leadership from St. Catherine University, and is a current doctoral candidate. She’s currently working for the Episcopal Church in Minnesota and has been a free-lance organization development consultant for several years, specializing in helping organizations build strong networks for culture change. She has worked with several organizations in their start up phases as a board member, consultant or employee.

Wenzel has a degree in Child Development from Rochester Community Technical College and seven years of experience in early childhood development, specifically in what you could call hands-on field work. “This is my first business. I have been on mommy sabbatical!” she enthuses, smiling. She is mom to Isabelle (7), Benjamin (5), and Walter (2).

While the sisters are the co-owners, their family is very close and involved. “No matter what we have decided to do in our lives, we always know our family is there to support us and help us. Buying a business is a big step, but it is less scary when you know your whole family is behind you,” adds Wenzel. “One of the first things we did after deciding to buy the store was to plan how we would announce it to the family and to prepare a list of things that they could help with because we knew everyone would want to help us jumpstart the business. We come from a family of very strong, independent, and creative women who has jumped right in to support us as a small women-owned business from generating ideas, to building custom shelving, painting, and storing inventory in their living room to helping take care of the kids while we build up the business.”

“Our mom, Brenda Ziebell and our grandma, Joyce Finley, have always shown us that we can do anything we put our minds to. These amazing women have always encouraged us to dream big and then go after those dreams. They paved the way for us to have the courage and belief that we can do this,” she continues. “Our mom and dad used to have this book on the kitchen table all the time called Back to Basics. That’s what our store is about - going back to the simple basics that help us create healthy homes and healthy families.”

While Darr’s inventory of products was purchased, the new owners hope to offer up a few new items. They will carry diapers and covers, diapering accessories, baby wraps, soaps, lotions, clothing items, toys, and more including such popular brands as Baby Legs, BioKleen, Citrus Circles, Charlie’s Soap, Cloth Diaper Company, CoobieBras, Dr. Bronner’s, GADS, gDiaper, Happy Heiny’s, Melissa & Doug, MiniShowers, Moby Wrap Mother-Ease, Natural Magic Odor Magnet, Starbunz, Tiny Tush and more.

For now, the store will be open in its new location, 24482 Hartwood Drive, near Hart township north of Rushford, by appointment only. When the transition is complete and settled, they anticipate store hours of 9am to 5pm, Tuesday and Thursday. They also offer baby showers, baby registries, in home appointments, and delivery. An open house is scheduled for May 17, 10am to 7pm.

You can contact Audrey Wenzel or Amanda Ziebell at info@simpleababystore.com or at 507-458-4472. More information about the store is available online at www.simpleababystore.com or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/Simple.ABabyStore.

Comments:







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1797

2:12:09, Apr 15th 2013

nikkiborchardt says:
I am so excited for you and your new adventure!


2197

4:12:01, May 9th 2013

Amanda Ziebell says:
Wow! Thanks to the Fillmore County Journal for this kind story. For anyone wondering, we will begin regular hours (Tues/Thurs 9-5pm) starting after our Grand Opening on Friday, May 17th. The Grand Opening will have a small petting zoo and activities for the whole family. We hope to see you there (10am-7pm).