Milwaukee business owners are always really supportive of each other, but no one is more supportive than the Bay View crowd. The girls at Amity Loft and Plume were adamant that I check out URSA, a really great Bay View shop, and meet Emily Kopplin, the owner. So I did just that, and I'm so glad I did.
URSA has the coolest home decor, jewelry, clothes, plants – basically everything you need to elevate your aesthetic. And URSA is totally the embodiment of Emily's vibe. Check out my Q&A with her to learn more!
My Midwest Is Showing: Tell me about your business.
Emily Kopplin: URSA is the realization of a longtime love and appreciation for all things thoughtfully designed and crafted. The shop features a carefully curated selection of home decor, jewelry, apothecary, plants, and more. It's independently owned by myself and my husband, John Sturdy.
MMWIS: What's the history of Ursa?
EK: We started out in 2015 by making a line of apothecary products and jewelry which we sold online and in The Waxwing boutique on the east side of Milwaukee. I've worked in retail for 10+ years and have been a buyer for boutiques in both Milwaukee and Chicago so for the last few years my goal has been to open a lifestyle shop. I'm originally from Waterloo, WI, and John is from Detroit but we met while both living in Chicago and relocated to Milwaukee in 2016. We bought a home in Bay View pretty close to the shop so needless to say, we love our neighborhood!
MMWIS: What's a normal day like for you?
EK: On a normal day we get up and walk our dog, Pepper, then make some breakfast and get to the shop to start our work day. I spend most of the day in the shop placing orders and helping customers, while John works on putting together the potted plants we sell and shooting product photos for our online shop in our studio located at the back of the building.
MMWIS: What's the best part of being a business owner? The worst part?
EK: The best part of being a business owner is being your own boss. I love being able to exercise my creativity to bring the ideas I have to life and create a comfortable and inspiring space for people to hang out. I spend a lot of time searching for unique brands and items that I love and believe in, and also things that aren't heavily represented here already. We aim to bring a fresh shopping experience to Milwaukee, and it's so rewarding to see people get excited about purchasing something special. The worst part about being a business owner is probably time management. It takes a little getting used to making the switch from working for someone else and being able to "clock out" at the end of the day, so it's important to try and stick to a schedule and make time for yourself so you don't get overworked.
MMWIS: What advice would you give to someone who wants to start their own business?
EK: Believe in yourself, be confident in your ideas, and just go for it. The worst thing that can happen is obviously failure but the best thing that can happen is self growth, maximized potential, and living out your dreams. Do plenty of research and make sure you have a solid plan. It's okay to take your time!
MMWIS: What are you currently reading? Watching? Listening to?
EK: Reading – Jason Molina, Riding with the Ghost by Erin Osmon. Re-watching Arrested Development and Game of Thrones. Listening to – Yo La Tengo, Current Joys, Fog Lake, Galaxy Fingers, No Vacation, Ruby Haunt.
MMWIS: If someone was visiting Wisconsin for the first time, what would you tell them to do first?
EK: Go on a hike at Devil's Lake, visit the Wisconsin Dells, then of course get to Milwaukee for the best shops, food, people, fun, etc.
MMWIS: Favorite thing about the Midwest?
EK: We really enjoy being outdoors so living on Lake Michigan is pretty incredible. It's so nice to have four seasons, and nothing beats the Midwest mentality. People are nice, thoughtful, hard working, yet laid back.
MMWIS: How does your Midwest show through your personality and/or what you do?
EK: I'm proud to be from the Midwest and I think the environment and beautiful landscape by where I grew up has shaped my love of the outdoors. I've always leaned toward a decorating aesthetic that incorporates natural elements. Even after traveling all over the county it's always so nice to come home.