When people visit Janet's Designs from Nature at 320 Ichord Ave in Waynesville, they see a 4,000 square foot shop brimming with customers and home décor and floral arrangements for sale.
They also see Janet Dunbar, owner, who seems to always be smiling and willing to help her customers in any way possible.
However, even though Dunbar's shop seems to be quite successful now, it had modest beginnings.
“I actually started about 15 years ago making florals in the basement of my home,” Dunbar explained. “Pretty soon, family and friends asked, one thing led to another, I started having more and more inventory, and it started taking over our entire family room. There was nowhere to sit, and my husband said, 'You've got to find a place to store some of this.'”
That led to Dunbar's first official location, opening its doors in 2001.
“We started out in this little, small place on the second floor of First State Bank,” she explained. “All I did was florals. Business started growing, and I put everything back into the business.”
She said after about 1.5 years, she started to outgrow her location above the bank, and then found her new spot, which is located in Townfield Plaza.
“We went from this little, bitty, small space to over 4,000 square feet,” she said.
And from there, things continued to grow.
Dunbar also continued to develop relationships with her customers, which she said is one of her favorite parts of the job.
“This is something I love, and I love the people. Customers have turned into lifelong friends,” she said moments before hugging her third customer goodbye within a period of about 30 minutes.
She said she has always loved working with florals, but she didn't always know she'd eventually open her own location filled with “all kinds of gifts and home décor.”
“I had a little trouble in college trying to figure out what I wanted to do. Before I started this, I was a stay-at-home mom for my son, Chris, who is about to graduate from medical school in Kansas City,” she said.
When she first started selling items, Dunbar said she was always stressed out about her decisions.
“I was always worried so much about what other people would like,” she explained. “I really made myself sick. I eventually had to get to the point where I started picking what I liked and just hoped and prayed that other people would love it, too, and take it home.”
Page 2 of 2 - So far, Dunbar said that system has worked.
“I love it when people stop in or call me just to tell me how much people love the gifts they buy here,” she said.
Dunbar said one thing people may not realize about her job is how physically demanding it can be at times.
“People may be surprised,” she said. “Opening boxes and moving all of the inventory is demanding. There are also so many things you have to put together, and the boxes are huge.”
Right now, if you step foot into Janet's Designs by Nature, you may think you're in a winter wonderland.
On top of some of the shop's regular assortment of home décor, floral items, wines, accessories, candles, wall art, handbags, scarves and much more, there are large trees throughout the store, completely covered with a wide variety of Christmas ornaments.
“We're all decorated for Christmas right now, and I think oaur Christmas trees are really unique,” Dunbar said.
With Christmas being right around the corner, Dunbar said her holiday items, which are currently 20 percent off, are being well-received by her customers.
She said some of her items that do well year-round include her home décor and candles.
Right now, Dunbar said she is working at least six days per week on average. She used to have to work seven days every week.
However, even though she has to put in long hours, Dunbar said it is worth it.
“The greatest things about [my shop] are my customers and friends that come here and support me year after year,” she shared.
Dunbar also praised the support of her husband, Mike, her son, Chris, and the community as a whole.
“I love [having my shop] because of the people,” she said. “And plus, it's my passion.”
To learn more about Janet's Designs by Nature, visit them on the web at http://www.janetsdesignsfromnature.com, call (573) 774-3733 or stop by Townfield Plaza - 320 Ichord Ave, Suite Q in Waynesville.