Visit Cedar Grove Farms: Gustavian design and French Country home decor take center stage at Hartselle boutique
By Rebekah Yancey
Photos by Rachel Howard
In the face of unprecedented challenges brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic, many small businesses struggled to adapt and survive. However, there are always those remarkable individuals who rise above difficulties and turn adversity into opportunity. Melanie Kolb is one such inspiring figure. With determination and a keen eye for design, she transformed her small business from a mobile venture to a flourishing brick-and-mortar store front, specializing in Gustavian design and French country home decor.
A mobile beginning
Kolb founded Cedar Grove Farms initially as a mobile enterprise, showcasing her collection of curated home decor items and furniture through pop-up shops and travel shows across the southeast. Her passion for interior design and her ability to source unique, high-quality pieces quickly gained her a loyal customer base. Kolb traveled extensively, attending fairs and markets, building relationships with artisans, suppliers and customers – until the Covid-19 pandemic flipped the script.
“In February 2020, I had purchased trailer loads of product – enough for 10 shows,” Kolb said. “And then Covid hit.”
It was the pandemic, Kolb said, that was catalyst through which her business model changed from booths at craft and antique fares to a brick-and-mortar location in Hartselle and live shows on Facebook every week.
Her store now, located in East Hartselle, is close to her heart and her home, quite literally. It is located at the back of the 40-acre farm she shares with her husband Chris.
Pivoting amidst uncertainty
As the pandemic hit, Kolb faced the daunting task of adapting her business model to survive in the new normal. With restrictions on public gatherings and a decline in foot traffic at events, she had to think creatively to keep her entrepreneurial dreams alive. Instead of succumbing to the challenges, she decided to take a bold leap and establish a physical store front, focusing on her love for antiques and farmhouse design that features muted color palettes and carved wood.
Kolb said Chris actually encouraged her to take the leap of faith – and it is one she has never regretted taking.
It has paid off.
Cedar Grove Farms exudes a charming blend of the coveted antique aesthetic and French country charm. The delicate, muted and neutral colors and the distressed finishes paired with perfectly curated pieces of art transport customers to a world of timeless elegance and tranquility.
Community engagement and expansion
Kolb’s success is not limited to the commercial aspect of her business. She has actively engaged with her local community, hosting weekend workshops and what she calls ‘Vintage Vignettes’ for her customers in an effort to share her design skills. Every Monday night, Kolb goes live on Facebook to host décor sales in real-time – engaging with her 11,000 followers.
Through her weekly live sale on Facebook, items regularly are shipped to customers in Orlando, Fla., Vermont and Washington State.
Continuing to look for ways to grow her business and interact with her clients, Kolb said the conversations she has with her returning customers are her favorite part of the job.
“I love this so much more,” she says. “Before we would have huge crowds with thirty people deep in line – you could not connect with your customers at all.”
Kolb says she loves to empower her customers to decorate their homes themselves – she doesn’t just want to sell them a product.
“As women, home design is just as important as your outfit,” she says. “I love it when people come back and say ‘Oh, my husband loves this,’” she added.
For Kolb, Cedar Grove Farms is all about the community she’s built.
“It’s much more than a business and customer relationship now,” she says.
Kolb’s customers regularly travel to Hartselle from Memphis, Nashville and Birmingham.
Cedar Grove Farms in open from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays and 10-5 on the first Saturday of the month unless there is a holiday, or by appointment.
Cedar Grove Farms is located at 726 N. Cedar Cove Rd., Hartselle.
Find the boutique on Facebook at www.facebook.com/shopcedargrovefarms.