An inspired local business owner devoted to helping others

Willa June is giving back again. The Victoria boutique will celebrate Small Business Saturday, November 24th, by giving 10% of their proceeds to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at the Children’s Minnesota Hospital.

Small Business Saturday is a shopping holiday held the Saturday after Thanksgiving. Rather than celebrating big box doorbusters or online deals, it encourages communities to shop local and to shop small. It isn’t a prerequisite for a business to use Small Business Saturday as a charitable excuse to pay it forward, but in our community, many do. Small Business Saturday is a big deal in Minnesota, and for Willa June, the opportunity is personal. Owner Jodi Larson’s son was born 11 weeks early. “The program is amazing, and I want to ensure that families get the care that we received,” said Larson. After receiving their NICU care, the family was moved to Abbott North Western Children’s Hospital. “After a month there, they become your family.” 

They first opened their doors on New Year’s Eve of 2016. Baby Leo, in his Pack ‘n Play, was right next to the register. The storefront has always been a family affair. Sometimes, you’ll find Larson’s mom working the shop. Their first official day open was January 2nd, 2017, which kicked off something of a retail growth spurt in Victoria, 15 minutes west of Eden Prairie. 

At Willa June you’ll find women’s wear and home goods. The aesthetic is curated and thoughtful – feminine pieces with a modern edge meet contemporary, cozy-sleek home goods. They are a destination for trend pieces, certainly, but also interesting classics. “Things you’ll have for more than a year,” said Larson. The clothing is made out of soft fabrics and styles that fit into existing wardrobes and can transition between day and night, created for real, style-minded people. For the holiday season, we’ll see a color story of reds, yellows, and navy, in the context of home décor gifts and chunky knits. T-shirts with cheeky sayings and graphics flexing your Minnesota pride accent the boutique’s “elevated casual basics” appeal. From stationary to outerwear, you’ll find the perfect gift or wardrobe update at Willa June.

Willa June retails brands with intention, too.  Sota Clothing Co., known for t-shirts and hats, raised $15,000 last year for cancer research at the University of Minnesota Masonic Center through their Minnesota Nice Project. They have more plans to benefit the Cancer Kids Fund this year. Wooden Ships, a knitwear company creating chic and playful sweaters, donates to the International Anti-Poaching Fund, the Environmental Defense Fund, and the International Rescue Committee among other organizations. Willa June carries an array of sustainable labels, including Groceries Apparel, Splendid, and Level 99 Jeans. When it comes to merchandising and shopping local, they carry a capsule of five Minneapolis-based Louise Gray prints, and Duluth-born Sota Clothing Co. 

Willa June is named after someone very close to home – the daughter of Willa June’s co-founder (and Larson’s close friend) Mary Roswick, who was with the company from the beginning. They’ve been close for a long time: prior to Willa June, Larson and Roswick ran a retail marketing company together. Their neighbor, White Birch House, is also giving back to kids and families on Small Business Saturday; they’ll be donating 10% to the Children’s Hospital Pediatric Cancer Program because of their family’s direct experience. The small business culture in the area is close-knit. Larson mentions Cham Bray in Waconia and Gray Home and Lifestyle in Excelsior as her community spirited partners. In this wave of women business owners, the culture is nothing less than supportive. Business owners like Larson set the example that giving back to the community is all part of the process.

Larson is creating a candle for Willa June, and 100% of the profits will be donated to the NICU program at Children’s Hospital – a way for Willa June to give back every day. If running a home-grown business isn’t gratifying enough, try giving back to an organization that changes families’ lives. Thanks in no small part to the NICU at Children’s Hospital, Leo is a happy and beautiful kid. The blessings – and hard work – are in no short supply at Willa June. “It was always a dream,” said Jodi Larson. “You forget that this is yours. I love what I do every day.” 

Visit Willa June at 7940 Victoria Drive, in Victoria, Minnesota. Shop their website at shopwillajune.com. Fill your feed with chic Willa June fashion on Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram