Brussels' DeWit to expand to create Locally Unique, suites - Feb. 15, 2018
BY SHAWN LOUGHLIN
Jackie DeWit, owner of the recently-opened JD & Company, already has her eye on expansion and a grand opening this spring.
DeWit was the winner of Huron East’s third Win This Space competition last October and the first to focus on the Brussels community. At her main street location, she has been selling No Nonsense Natural Products, a brand of her own creation, to much acclaim since her opening in early November.
In the coming months, however, she hopes to expand to the storefront to the south of her current location and open Locally Unique, which will focus on high-end furniture and art products created by local artisans. It will also provide her with a workspace to chase her life-long passion of restoring discarded furniture.
Her skill in this department is already on display at her current location, where she has reclaimed and restored several pieces of furniture for use as displays. DeWit has said that in the months since she opened, she often has customers asking to buy the furniture, but she has had to turn them away, telling them the pieces are not for sale.
In addition, DeWit and her husband are already at work creating luxury suites above and behind the two storefronts in hopes of attracting those coming to Brussels for weddings at the new Four Winds Barn slated to open this summer.
The plan, she said, is to build four suites on the top floor and two on the ground floor. The rentable units will be more like short-stay apartments than hotel rooms, she said. Two suites will have three bedrooms and be ideal for families with young children or babies and two other suites will have two bedrooms.
The rentable units will be named after those with historical significance to the property, DeWit said. One will be named after Bryan Morton, the owner of the building as well as of the Four Winds Barn, while others will be named after DeWit herself, Maitland, Huron, Smith and McLaren (Smith & McLaren had formerly occupied a shop in the block that sold clothing decades ago).
The hope, she said, is that those who make their way to Brussels will stay in the village now with this option made available.
For the grand opening of the two expansion projects, DeWit and her family hope to host a joint open house that will welcome Brussels residents in to see all of the improvements that they have made.
This, DeWit said, is just another step in what has been a tremendous budding relationship with the community of Brussels.
Now a member of the Brussels Lions Club, as well as the local horticultural and agricultural societies, DeWit said she has fully embraced the Brussels community and feels the community has embraced her in turn. In fact, she feels that what she’s doing at JD & Company has started a bit of an “awakening” in the village.
With instructional paint nights and other classes being held at her location, DeWit said she’s seeing people out and about who haven’t been in ages. She thinks the environment she has created at her establishment has become a sort of community hub for Brussels.
In addition, she said that with her tremendous reach with social media, she is turning into a “mentor of sorts” to other entrepreneurs within Brussels who have great ideas but haven’t had the courage to get their ideas off the ground.
She says people she doesn’t know will come into the store and hug her, thanking her for setting up shop in Brussels. It’s this kind of connection, DeWit said, that assures her that she made the right choice in coming to Brussels, a community she knows she’ll live in for the rest of her life.
In this spirit she hopes, that when her luxury accommodations get off the ground, to implement a business partnership with other Brussels establishments. If someone stays at her suites in Brussels, they would be given a card that would entitle them to 10 per cent off at other participating local businesses. In turn, these businesses would be involved in the JD & Company website and help travellers understand all that Brussels has to offer before they travel to the community.
DeWit said that while many of her concepts have stretched beyond those of a traditional business, she feels that always reaching for something greater is at the heart of what it means to be an entrepreneur.
“That’s what being an entrepreneur is all about, never saying, ‘that’s enough,’” she said. “That’s why entrepreneurs never retire.”
As for the side of the business that will have DeWit back working on luxury furniture pieces, she said that has been her passion for 20 years.
In 1998, DeWit said she painted her first piece of furniture. She was heading off to college and needed furniture for her dorm room and didn’t have to buy anything. She has been doing it ever since.
In fact, because she didn’t want to take out a loan to start No Nonsense Natural Solutions, she funded its creation through furniture. She would refurbish one piece that would pay for a vital part of the No Nonsense project and now, the No Nonsense project has paved the way for her to return to her first love of furniture.
DeWit is still working on a firm date for her joint grand opening and open house, but she hopes to host residents in late March or early April.
For more information on JD & Company, visit jdandcompany.ca or call 519-492-3234.