The Olive Branch is a boutique located in downtown Wilmore, KY 327 E Main St. and is owned by Erika and Cameron Miller. I fell in love with this cozy shop (and the couple who owns it) the moment I walked in this past Spring! Read below to learn more about The Olive Branch through my interview with Erika, and take a peek inside!
Tell me a bit about The Olive Branch.
We are a local boutique that honestly has a little bit of everything. We highlight
different local, KY makers who are small business owners just like us. We currently have 29
different “vendors” so the variety is huge. We have everything from clothing, vintage items,
home decor, pottery, paintings, hand lettered items, macrame, wood items, signs, pillows, body
care items, lots of jewelry, leather, hats and lots more. We also part owners of Drinklings Coffee Roastery, which shares our space.
I have worked hard to curate a group of makers that have high quality, unique items. I work to make sure there is as little competition between makers as possible. It’s hard enough being a small business, without sharing your space with multiple people making the same items. I consider all my vendors my friends and have grown very close to several of them.
Since we opened on March 16th 2019 many of our vendors have been able to branch out into other makers spaces, attend their first makers festival and some have even been able to quit their careers to pursue their passion full time. This is truly what we dreamed of when we opened, so to see it become a reality for some is beautiful!
What was it like renovating the space?
We purchased the building in the first week of December 2018 and opened our doors on March
16th, 2019. That is a little less than 3 months of DAILY work on the renovation. The building is
roughly 100 years old so there were some very cool things we found and some very scary
things we found!
All in all, the renovation was incredibly rewarding because we were able to take a building that had been sitting vacant for a while on the main street and give it new life again. We loved having members of the community to stop by and give us pieces of the buildings history as we worked.
The mayor of Wilmore gave us a ton of insight into what the building used to be, as his family worked in the space for several years with many different business endeavors. We were blessed to have him and his wife share their history with the Jessamine Chamber of Commerce during our ribbon cutting.
Cameron and I are very passionate about the revitalization of downtown Wilmore. We get asked all the time if we are from here and the answer is no, this place just felt like home. We have been welcomed so warmly by the community and it all started with the renovation. There were so many emotions involved in this process, excitement, fear, worry, uncertainty, pride, etc, but at the end of each renovation we have done we walk away feeling proud of our work, amazed at the help we receive and closer to one another.
How have you seen the Lord's faithfulness through the process of opening and running The Olive Branch?
From the very beginning of taking the leap of faith to quit a well paying job that was consistent to
not knowing if this would even work, I have had the same request from God: to guide me where
I am supposed to go and to just send me one more - one more customer, one more vendor, one
more idea, just one more. I know that He has His hand in this because He has blessed us so
Even if The OB were to close its doors tomorrow, we have met so many amazing people who I know will be in our lives for years to come. We have been connected to some of the most faithful, Christ-filled people. They have prayed over us, cried with us, celebrated with us and just supported us in so many ways.
From the very beginning I have always prayed that God would bring people into our lives that would help lead us in the direction he wants us to go. That prayer has been answered so beautifully through this business. I have also seen the Lord take scared, nervous small business owners and transform them into confident, risk takers who are no longer fearful of this small business world.
Every Sunday I dedicate a portion of my prayer to ask God to continue to guide us, provide for us and equip us to do what he has called us to do. I know he has the perfect plan for The OB and I am just working everyday to trust that as whole heartedly as I can! Is it difficult sometimes? ABSOLUTELY! I will always be transparent about those struggles, but I will also always be transparent about what gets me through those times of doubt.
Psalm 143:8 “Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love for I have put my trust in you”. I had this verse on my desk when I was teaching and it has led me to where I am now and for that I am so thankful.
How do you select what products are sold in the boutique?
The mission of The OB has been to support local businesses but I wanted the experience to be
different than the usual 'vendor mall'. I LOVE to walk through vendor malls and see the different
items but it isn't the curated, boutique experience that I wanted to offer our customers. So I
worked to find vendors who met a few requirements:
1) Handmade goods that were quality!
2) Embodied the mission of The OB and that I trusted to represent our brand with integrity.
3) Vendors who went above and beyond to give their customers exceptional service.
4) Vendors who are unique and brought something new and different to the space.
As we have grown that last one has become increasingly difficult because there are so many amazing makers out there that I want to have them all. I am however, dedicated to my makers and have had to say no to a few who would have been a directly competing vendor to someone currently in the shop.
My hope is that all makers can respect that and feel that they are truly appreciated and valued
when they are in this space. I am always looking for the next person that we can creatively
display in The OB and hope we can continue to work with makers who bring something new and
fun to Wilmore!
As a business owner, how do you strive to share Jesus?
The beautiful thing about running my own business is I get to choose the message that The
Olive Branch puts out. I am in prayer daily for my business and continue to ask God to show me
what the next step is. I am not afraid to talk about Jesus with my customers in a respective
manner. I believe that our mission field is our daily life. Whatever you are doing, God can speak
through you. By just showing someone kindness when they come in my door, greeting them
with a smile and getting to know a little about them I am portraying the heart of Christ.
We work with several churches in Wilmore and have hosted worship nights in our space with Drinklings. I will always make the decision that points to Jesus. I will always make my business decisions based on the truth of the Gospel and will never sacrifice that for further business success. If it is in God’s plan for me I believe it will work out. If not, God has something greater for me! We just have to trust that He really does have the best for us.
I hope that when customers leave The OB they feel loved, acknowledged and important. We are called to love our neighbors as ourself, and every person who walks in this shop is essentially my neighbor. The OB will always keep customer service, respect and love through Christ as our number one priority.
What have you learned about yourself and the Lord through this business so far?
I have learned that God's plan for us is incredibly beautiful, so intricately detailed and
planned. God took me - an anxious, self conscious, fearful of conflict, and sometimes awkward
girl - and handed me the keys to a business. A business that requires me to daily step out of my
comfort zone and challenge my natural tendency to shrink back. He has pushed me to have
hard conversations, work through emotional moments and learn to trust. He has given me the
ability to speak encouraging words not only over others but myself as well. He paired me with a
husband who is a go getter, brave, selfless, leader to be my helper in all of this. He has
surrounded me with women who build me up and shown me just enough tough love. He has
challenged to stay true to my beliefs and do what he has called me to do even when it would be
easier to stray.
I am so thankful for his guidance and faithfulness through all life's challenges.
We started this business in a very tough season for our families, as Cameron and I both lost our
grandmothers a year ago. We were forced to trust that God’s love is bigger than our grief and shift our focus to the promise of eternity. God pulled us both out of our grief and helped us to use this project as a healing process, a new life and a space to celebrate their influence in our lives. For that alone I will be eternally thankful!
What are some fun ways you have expanded after opening the Olive Branch?
Cameron and I are always looking for ways to bring business to downtown Wilmore and enhance the experience of visiting The Olive Branch. This Fall we debuted our latest venture, Scoops on Main - an ice cream cart serving homemade, KY proud ice cream from our shop! We work with a family owned business in Stanford, KY who has been creating this ice cream for four generations!
Our cart is serving up scoops Monday-Friday (3-5pm), and all day on Saturdays! The cart is also available to rent for special events. We love having this extra piece to offer our customers and its been so fun seeing people enjoy it so much!
What advice do you have for anyone feeling called to start a business?
1. First, let go of any notion that it will be easy or perfect.
2. Do not listen to the negative people in your life who are not in a good place and are not able to understand or be happy for you! Instead find a core group of people who are living in God’s word, and speaking spiritual wisdom into your life.
3. Stay organized and on top of things that feel like the “ugh” part of business. Yes they suck and yes you have to do them. Get a schedule where you do those admin things on a regular basis and just push through!
4. Daily list in your head the things you are thankful for, even if they seem small and silly.
5. ALWAYS be in prayer for your business and listen to the Holy Spirit when he says to “move” and even more when he says “stand firm”.
6. Reach out to other business owners, ASK QUESTIONS and don’t be afraid to speak up!
If you are reading this and need someone to talk to, I know a great coffee shop where we can get together! ;)
Current vendors in The Olive Branch:
Luna Sky, Origami Rabbit, It Is Written Apparel Co., Cayligraphy, Red Bud Suds, Indigo Designs, Gospel of the Tub, Parrish Pottery, Maddie Zweifel Designs, A Green Daisy, A Life Shared, Transformed Lovely, Heart Strings, Butterflies and Heart Eyes, Tree House Goods, Casual Friday, Moth + Milkweed Pottery, Bluegrass Tables, Timber and Bluff, All His Own Designs, Weaver Woodworking, Gabby Long Ink, Gary Hansen Lath Art, Wood and Wool, Lex Tex Hat Co., Reclaimed Spirits, Purposeful Design