Courtland women turn love of craft into a place of community connection
By Deb Hadachek – Telescope editor
It’s a story of entrepreneurship that’s really about relationships and community.
Shanna (Larson) Lindberg and Michelle (Strait) Lindberg are not sisters, or even sisters-in-law, but cousins-in-law by marriage. But their common interests formed a bond that made them Soul Sisters–and birthed a new business by that name.
The women always knew each other growing up in the Scandia area and graduating from Pike Valley High School, even though Michelle is a few years older. Their friendship grew after they married cousins (Michelle’s husband is Paul, and Shanna’s is Nathan) and started their families.
As their relationship grew closer, they realized they both loved ceramic pottery. After some research, they began creating bowls and jewelry in their homes.
That interest grew into an online business and a service industry where they hosted ceramic painting parties in venues in Scandia and Courtland.
That interest grew into an online business, and a service industry where they hosted ceramic painting parties in venues in Scandia and Courtland.
On July 7 it will grow again: this time into a storefront in a converted gas station on Courtland’s main street. The business will open that day, with a ribbon cutting at 9:30 a.m.
“It’s about community,” says Michelle, who is also a nurse at Brodstone-Nuckolls County Memorial Hospital in Superior, Nebr.
“This is a place where people can gather.”
“We had such strong response from Scandia and Courtland and Belleville and Jewell County that it made us think ‘this could be something people could enjoy’,” adds Shanna.
“That support was the main push for us to do this.” Soul Sisters will not just offer ceramics for sale. It will also be a place people can come
create their own pieces of art.
“Any age can come and do this,” says Michelle. “Two-year-olds to no age limit.”
The women have already booked birthday parties for kids, and wine and painting parties for women. They’ve been contacted about renting studio time to individuals who shelved an interest in ceramics when they graduated from college.
“Soul Sister Ceramics is the only walk-in entertainment and boutique business in North Central Kansas,” says Shanna.
Piece of history
The Soul Sisters shop is a longtime Chase service station in Courtland that some feared was headed for the wrecking ball. Even earlier the corner was home to the Commercial House (or Butler House) Hotel.
“People in Courtland are really attached to the nostalgia of this building,” says Shanna. “We reinstalled the gas pumps and left the bell.”
Part of the festivities July 7 will be to unveil the renovation of how the women turned a gas station into an art studio.
Along with the make-and-take aspect of the business, Soul Sisters will continue to sell their own pieces, as well as other gift items from other Kansas creators.
They expect internet sales of their pieces–which they started on Etsy, a sales site for creators–to continue to support the retail side of the business. They have since launched their own website. But they hope the addition of another storefront in Republic County will help draw day-trippers to the region.
“With the Depot Market and AnTiques in Courtland, this gives people another reason to come visit Courtland,” says Shanna.
Hours of the new business will be Tuesday-Saturday 10 a.m.-5 p.m. with private parties by appointment. The business’s website is www.soulsisterceramics.com.