We have had so much fun getting to know small business owners across the US that we wanted a way to share even more of their story with you. That's why we created the #BuySmallSaveSmall Stories series! In each new post we'll introduce you to a new business, and get down to details with the owner about what it's like to be a small business owner.
Without further ado, meet Melissa "Meli" Bernas of Pretty Pages!
Meli, where are you originally from?
I was born in Ohio! We moved around quite a bit when I was young but we landed back in Ohio when I was in 6th grade and I remained there until about 11 years ago. Most of our family and closest friends are still there ❤️ We now reside in Oswego, IL with our 2 daughters.
What or who inspired you to start Pretty Pages?
My love of books and reading started everything! I host my book club’s Christmas party at my home every year. Each year, I like to send the women home with something special and handmade from books. That’s where this business started! I made Christmas trees out of books that first year, sold a few extra online and the rest is history! I’m lucky to be doing something that I absolutely love. All of the pieces are unique and show the age and beauty of the books they’re created with.
Where is your business located?
When did your business open?
December 8, 2017
What is/was your flagship product that launched the business?
Christmas tress made from book pages.
Is there a special story or meaning behind this name that you want to share?
No, but I’d like to note that I share my new space with another small women owned business called MoJo. They are a mother daughter duo that also had a shop on the Boardwalk. If you can dream it, they can sew it! I’m excited to start this new journey alongside them.
Name three things that make your business or products unique, that people should know.
We can use books and sheet music specifically chosen in order to create something truly custom and meaningful for each client.
Being small and woman owned is something I’m truly proud of. I’ve been fortunate to meet many other women entrepreneurs in my area and it’s truly a special community.
Everything in the shop has a literary twist! I’m a book nerd at heart. I love featuring other small businesses and authors in the shop.
What was the first major milestone that you were excited to reach for your business?
Being accepted into the Main Street Market in Rockford. It’s hosted by Urban Farmgirl and was always a favorite of mine as a shopper. To be included in it as a vendor was huge and so special.
What is the next major milestone you are working toward for your business?
I’m currently in the process of opening a permanent Brick and mortar location in Batavia! I’m sharing the space with MoJo and our Grand Opening is scheduled for March 12th.
Do you have any new products or services in the works that you can share with us?
The new shop features a workshop area where we will host fun and interactive events. I’m also working on a YA Book Club that will be hosted once a month in the new store.
Does your small business support your local community or communities in other parts of the world? If so, tell us how!
We have teamed up with many local charities in the past year. I focus on organizations that promote literacy and inclusion in young people. This will absolutely be a focus moving forward with the new shop.
In your own words, why do you think supporting small business is important?
By supporting small and local businesses, you’re investing in your community. These people are your friends, neighbors, fellow parents, etc. You’re support means more to small business owners than you’ll ever realize. You’re giving someone the chance to do what they love and build a future for themselves and their family.
What is one piece of advice you have for anyone interested in starting their own business?
Do it. You have to take the leap. Start with a small jump and you’ll be shocked and ecstatic with what you’re capable of.
Aside from your own, what is one of your favorite small businesses to support in your community? What do you love most about their offerings?
Ugh. Just one?! I have to go with MoJo. These women are like family and I’m so excited to share a brick and mortar space with them. They can literally sew anything and I’m in awe of what they create. I use the bowl cozy, practically every day! Their masks are by far and away the most comfortable and obviously the cutest. The quality of their bags can’t be matched.
Thanks for learning more about Pretty Pages! Be sure to visit their website to explore the virtual storefront, and give them a follow on social media: