“I don’t really have much of a story,” said Meg Hasselbalch as she stood in Paper Kite, her little boutique sandwiched between other locally-owned shops on Prescott Avenue.
I smiled a little at her comment, because in my head her story was already taking shape. Meg has a story, even if to her it feels like she’s been ‘winging it’ most of her life.
Meg said she always felt like she was faking it.
In college she jokingly referred to herself a “fake” art student, because she loved art, but never latched on to any one discipline like most other students.
When she discovered her love for boutique shops she got a job at a maternity boutique in San Francisco. People would often say to her, ‘Wait, you’re 22 and you don’t have any kids, but you work in a maternity store?’ Meg would respond with a quick, ‘Yep!’ and then go back to work.
That’s the thing about Meg, she’s present and focused on the task at hand. So despite the fact that working in a maternity shop wasn’t exactly what she pictured doing in her 20s, it was an important part of her story.
She loved working at the maternity boutique and her boss quickly became her mentor, inviting Meg to assist with buying, go to market and pick out items for the shop. The fake feeling was starting to wear off.
Four years later, Meg moved back home to Lincoln. She missed her family, her community and was ready to do something a little different.
She briefly worked in Omaha, designing extravagant window displays for Anthropologie and then came back to Lincoln when she heard about a shop on Prescott Avenue that was moving out of its space.
The name of the shop was Scout. Meg had kept her eye on this shop, thinking that someday it might be a place she could fill with her own ideas. She loved the little architectural touches, the cozy neighborhood where it was located…and the fact that Scout was her middle name.
It finally just fit.
Now, it wasn’t like all the pieces fell into place, but things did happen quickly. Meg ran the idea for her boutique by her friends, family and a financial advisor to see if it was just plain crazy or possible.
She threw together a business plan and talked with her former boss and mentor.
She pieced together various word combinations to land on just the right name and feel for her shop.
It was like a dream, she said, a really stressful but beautiful dream. Meg said her family pitched in right away, painting her space and helping her decorate in record time. She stocked her shelves with gift items and clothing catered to ‘baby, home and her,’ and featured as many local and regional makers as possible.
And on October 1, 2013, Meg opened Paper Kite.
It was a whirlwind, but it was her whirlwind and she was so proud to call Paper Kite her own.
Three months later, Meg and her husband found out they were pregnant with their first child.
Cue whirlwind number two.
“What are we going to do?!” was Meg’s first thought. But in true Meg-style, she kept moving forward.
Battling morning sickness while working six to seven days a week was a full time job that kept Meg plenty busy until her daughter, Mary Frances, entered the world nearly a year to the day after she opened Paper Kite.
It was insane, Meg said, but it worked. She continued working with her dozing daughter snuggled with her in the shop.
People started coming to Paper Kite to see Mary Frances almost as much as to shop, and Meg realized she was well into the second year of owning her own shop. Paper Kite was busy, people loved her shop and Meg loved her job.
It was the right fit.
Meg wandered around her shop telling me about her favorite items and rearranging stacks of notecards or smoothing a sweet little baby outfit just to feel the soft cotton.
Meg said it was important to her that everything went together, even though she was selling everything from candles and cards to corn cob rattles and patterned leggings – it all needed to look like Paper Kite.
Meg’s story is like herself, humble and gracious. It’s about finding her place, mixing her loves and her skills and moving forward when the unexpected turns out better than you expected.
Paper Kite is Meg’s art. It’s not overly complicated – it’s simple, it’s beautiful and it’s hers.