Courtney Ghee

In the past she couldn't wait to leave and now she is proud to call this home and try her hand at opening a new store she'll call hers. Meet Courtney.

Why do you call Des Moines home? Growing up and living in Des Moines the majority of my life, I fell into the stereotypical, "I can't wait to leave," mentality in my young adult years. I thought, "I'm a big city girl. I'm meant to be somewhere bigger and better." I laugh thinking about that now. I've left, I've traveled many a places (but never enough am I right?), and what I've found is that I love this place for more than the reason of it being "home," but because it is truly an incredible place with endless potential. As a millennial, new business owner, I can't imagine taking this leap in any other place. I am proud to live here.

What’s currently keeping you busy? I'm currently gearing up to open my first brick and mortar store in downtown Des Moines next month. I'm an interior designer by trade and the store is a curated mix of vintage and handmade goods.  I spend most of my days out on the hunt for special vintage pieces for my shop. I also work with investors on flips, decorating homes of all shapes and sizes, and recently have begun working in home staging as well. 

Tell us about the strangest or unplanned moments (dark stories) of starting a brick and mortar store. Without getting political, there is a lot of red tape that comes with starting a business. I mean, a lot. So much that if I knew what I was getting into when I took the leap I may have been a lot more hesitant than I was, but I've made it through. Allow time for things like LLC's, Tax ID's, etc. You'll need a lawyer, I can't recommend Wilson Law Firm enough for this if anyone is in the market for any type of real estate or biz help. The main obstacle, though, has been patience through permitting, construction, inspections, etc. Really make sure you give yourself enough time to get everything done, commercial construction is far different from residential. I'll more than likely be opening my doors about 2 months later than I had originally anticipated. 

"Trying is freaking cool."

Walk us through your typical weekend?  Friday nights you can usually find my fiancé and myself on the couch binging our latest Netflix obsession with wine in hand. We have two corgis, Lincoln and Calvin, who compete for worlds most spoiled dogs. Every Saturday morning we take them to Starbucks to get their puppy lattes - it's become one of our favorite family traditions. Our Saturdays and Sundays are often spent out and about picking items for my shop, I'm lucky to have a partner in life who loves this business as much as I do. You can usually find us on a Saturday night having a drink and bite to eat at one of our favorite local spots, Sundays right now? Football, football, football. Soon my weekends will be spent at my shop!

Puppy lattes on a Saturday morning is a great tradition. What are some other family traditions you hope to continue and maybe one day start? Another "family" tradition that Alec and I have started is not exchanging gifts on Christmas. We haven't done it for a couple years now. Instead we like to donate some toys and food to an animal shelter. We're both very passionate about animal welfare. Aside from that, we watch The Holiday on repeat every Christmas season - which Alec may not be happy about me telling you!

From one maker to another what is your tip or advice? I say this to myself often and it's something that always motivates me, "don't stop until you're proud." The hardest part of doing anything is simply beginning. Whether it's starting a blog amidst judgmental peers (been there) or taking the leap to open your own business (currently there), success won't come over night and the only person you should focus on making proud is yourself. Somewhere along the way in our society it feels like it became uncool to try, to try to be good at something, to try something new, whatever it may be. It's a vulnerability thing. Don't let that ideology get you down, trying is freaking cool. Surround yourself with people who feel that way, too. 

How do you, personally, stay focused? Totally cliche answer coming your way, but so much truth. To-do lists! Oh my god, I don't know what I'd do without them. I would probably never get anything done. I am a 24 year old millennial and still cannot do any other type of to do list or planning without a real pencil and piece of paper in hand. Sorry technology, can't stop won't stop. 

"We have a great city for easily getting involved and meeting new people."

Who is someone you admire that others may know in the Des Moines area and why do admire them? I know so many incredible people here, from entrepreneurs to those who do great things in non-profit, but I'd have to say the first name that comes to mind is Katie Patterson. Katie is the CEO of Happy Medium here in Des Moines and I had the pleasure of hearing her speak at Go Blog Social a couple weeks ago. Her story of how she started this killer, booming business as a female in the tech industry was really incredible to listen to. I felt like I could do anything after hearing her story. If you aren't familiar with Happy Medium, you should be.  

To someone new to the Des Moines area and starting something new, what event or opportunity would you recommend they visit or do? There are so many great things to do in Des Moines, but it's usually better when you have people to enjoy them with. If you're new, join YPC (young professionals connection) or take a class offered at the Social Club. We have a great city for easily getting involved and meeting new people. And you know that "Iowa nice" thing? Totally not a myth. Most people are pretty approachable around these here parts. 

Convince us to visit one of your favorite places in the Des Moines area. Ah, this is so tough! So many gems in our great city. I'll have to do two, and they're both food. One, Skips on Fleur Drive. I always thought this was a no brainer, but I feel like so many people I talk to have never heard of it! Which is crazy to me. It's a (if not THE) south side dining staple. Skips is an old house turned restaurant and maybe in my line of work that excites me more than most, but the ambiance and food are to die for. Two, The Continental in the East Village. This is my fiancé and I's go-to place for a quick bite to eat and drink. During the summer we practically live here. We've tried virtually everything on the menu and it's all great, but the Pomme Frittes are my favorite fries in the city, you gotta try em. Pair that with an extensive drink menu and you have yourself a great date. Again I'm all about the ambiance. Old building, dim lighting, exposed brick, candles on every table, it's my very favorite spot downtown.

Derek Jensen