Life-Long Buddies Open Joint Business On Bois D'Arc
By CASEY MURPHY
After becoming best friends in high school, Susanne Hansen and Dory Hersey always talked about opening a store together when they became "little old ladies."
|IF YOU GO|
|Laughing Leaf and Dory's Garden: 724 S. Bois D'Arc Ave.|
Hours: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.
Grand Opening: Free gift with purchase this Tuesday through Saturday.
Now after years of living in different states, the women have opened two separate businesses in one location, combining their experiences in interior decorating and landscaping to serve the community.
Laughing Leaf, a unique gift shop owned by Ms. Hansen, and Dory's Garden, a garden center owned by Ms. Hersey, have opened in Tyler's historical brick street district.
"We've gone on so many adventures together in our life," Ms. Hersey said. "I really feel like this is another adventure."
Ms. Hersey and Ms. Hansen met in high school in Seattle and have been best friends ever since. Ms. Hersey moved to Texas 26 years ago, living in Garden Valley, Gresham and now Tyler, while Ms. Hansen lived in San Diego before moving here three years ago.
The women turned 56 in April, which coincided with the grand opening of their business.
Ms. Hersey said she has always had an artistic background, making and selling feather jewelry, shirts and other items at craft fairs. She has owned Welcome Home Landscapes for 15 years, redesigning flower beds and taking areas where it is hard to grow anything and turning them into places of beauty. She sells Dory's Garden cards, made of nature pictures she has taken during her landscaping career, as well as feather jewelry and hair pieces.
Ms. Hansen has worked as an executive assistant, which involved event planning and organization, her entire career. After she semi-retired, she moved to Tyler and has been working as an administrative assistant at The University of Texas at Tyler's Academic Success Department for two years. She has dabbled in interior design and loves "taking a home and putting pieces together and organizing it so it's a sanctuary," she said, adding that she has a good eye for color, scale and style. Ms. Hansen's interior design offers an urban setting style, she said.
"We're basically mirroring each other's gifts but she's concentrating on the inside and me on the outside," both with an organic, West Coast feel, Ms. Hersey said.
Ms. Hansen also does scrapbooking for people and personal shopping, where she can scout out and find a gift item, piece of furniture or jewelry for a customer.
The women recently began looking at making their dreams of owning a business together a reality and saw the space behind Brady's Coffee for lease.
"We loved it so much; it just escalated," Ms. Hansen said.
In the alley behind the shop, a garden center was housed there but had fallen into disrepair. Ms. Hersey has turned it once again into a garden center, Dory's Garden, painting the pavers, and decorating it with plants, fountains and outside decor for sale, as well as offering a place for people to bring a cup of coffee or lunch to enjoy the outside beauty, she said.
"We're excited about it being a place where people can come ... sit and enjoy the garden a place of peace," Ms. Hersey said.
She makes metal art and water fountains with found objects and offers ideas for urban gardens and edibles in the landscape. She believes the garden center is a great way to transition from her landscaping business as she gets older. But she still loves to "dig in the dirt," and for now, will continue her landscaping business along Dory's Garden. Ms. Hersey said she wants to be more of a landscaping consultant and "teach them want I know."
Inside Laughing Leaf, Ms. Hansen offers unique gift items, home decor and custom gift baskets. The theme of the business is "West Coast, urban, eclectic style," Ms. Hersey said.
The women want to offer private painting or gardening classes.
"One of our visions is a time of peace and fellowship with other women." Ms. Hansen said, adding that they are creating an interactive atmosphere where people can make their own gift baskets or pot their own plants. She said they have themed gift items for $20 or $30 and offer art prints and framed posters.
Ms. Hersey offers "pass-along plants," old-fashioned garden plants, as well as sedum plants and Wolly Pockets, living wall planters made of recycled plastic.
The women admire the historic building Laughing Leaf is in, pointing out the original tin ceiling and citing its history. The building was built in the early 1900s as a grocery store.
Ms. Hansen said they have received a lot of encouragement and support from the community and want to attract new businesses to the area. They are getting together with other shop owners to think about what they could do, such as coinciding unique events.
Laughing Leaf will continue holding a grand opening Tuesday through Saturday, when customers will receive a small gift with their purchase, with refreshments will be served.