Ripon is preparing to welcome another new business downtown.
Blue Sparrow, a storefront featuring bespoke clothing, home decor, gifts and other merchandise, arrives in the 300 block of Watson Street.
Stefanie Meeker, owner of the company, native of Ripon, hopes to have a “soft opening” on Saturday to coincide with Septemberfest.
Blue Sparrow – located at 321 Watson Street – will not have its full inventory, but will have a few products available.
Meeker has dreamed of running her own business since she was a child and takes classes in the Ripon area school district.
The Commonwealth met Meeker for a question-and-answer session to learn how she turned her dream into reality.
Here is the debate:
Q. Why did you want to start a business in downtown Ripon?
A. I was born and raised in Ripon. My husband Chris and I are both graduates of Ripon High School. We have chosen to raise our four children: Grace, Benett, Claire and Hayden here too. I love this city, this community, this school district and all that downtown has to offer. I have always been creative and one day I wanted to open my own business where I could use my creativity.
After losing my father, Dennis Plagenz, last year to pancreatic cancer, it showed me that life is too short not to pursue your dreams and passions. You owe it to yourself to do all the things you dreamed of. Things just started to fall into place, as they should be.
Q. Where does the name of the company “Blue Sparrow” come from?
A. Blue has always been my favorite color and I feel right at home, like my happy place. A sparrow symbolizes power, creativity, community, simplicity, and empowerment. These are all important things to me. The sparrow represents a feeling of freedom and peace.
Q. What products will you be transporting?
A. I will custom design t-shirts, sweatshirts, bags, home decorations and seasonal items for all sizes and ages.
I will also take orders for personalized items in small quantities. I will also have accessories and gift items. One thing that fascinates me is the “personalization station”. I currently have three sizes of insulated cups and dog bowls to customize.
Q. What happened to get the storefront ready to open?
A. The owners of the building took great care of them and were wonderful working with them. The interior and exterior have both been painted. I updated some light fixtures, as well as some ceiling tiles. Awnings will soon be installed over the windows.
Fortunately, my brother, Joël Plagenz, is in the building and works with wood. He did some work inside, as well as built my checkout counter. When it comes to merchandise, I’m full of ideas and can’t wait to get them out on the floor.
Q. What are your hopes for the future of the company?
A. I have a reserved space in the shop for a DIY / craft space. I hope in the future to be able to provide a space for individuals to organize DIY parties, be it children’s birthdays or girls’ nights.
I haven’t determined the logistics of what kind of art / craft, but it will be something trendy and affordable. I hope to provide a place that people love to visit and can’t wait to come. I want to provide a positive experience and an atmosphere that people want to be in.
Q. Final thoughts or something else you would like to share?
A. I am very happy to be part of the city center. I want to participate in the revitalization of the city center and I feel that I have a lot to offer.
I would like to thank Sarah Willett of Patina Vie, Tammy Gutierrez of Back Porch Gatherings and the Ripon Aea Chamber of Commerce for their support and guidance during this endeavor. I also want to thank my family and friends for joining me on this hike and continuing to support me. I love this small town.