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Briefly introduce yourself!
My name is Karli Millspaugh. I began my career in PR and Marketing working with national food brands after attending CSU for merchandising and design. I now own Curate Mercantile and Makers Market. I’m married to an amazingly supportive husband, Brent. He’s an accountant–but not the tax kind. He does audits, so he’s happy to tell me how to “correctly” do the accounting for our stores.
How many children do you have and what are their age(s)?
My son Kade is about to turn four. He teaches me something new every day about myself and about how to see life! This age is so much fun….and so hard too!
Where do you live in South Denver exactly? If not South Denver, where?
After living in Highlands Ranch and Littleton for 14 years, we now live in Parker. Our stores are in Lone Tree, Centennial and Littleton.
What’s your favorite family friendly activity in South Denver?
We’re a family that LOVES to go out to eat. There are so many great restaurants in the Denver area. We’ve seriously missed being able to sit and enjoy the entire experience during the closures. My heart breaks every time I hear of another local restaurant closing permanently due to the pandemic.
What’s your favorite kid friendly restaurant in South Denver?
Let me dust off my memories here. 😉 We like going to Breckenridge Brewery and sitting out in their lawn area. There’s space for kids to run while we can enjoy great food!
What’s your favorite date night restaurant in Denver (not just South Denver)?
A date?! What’s that? When we do have a chance to go to a nice restaurant with just the two of us, we’ll usually choose sushi! Edo Higan in the Park Meadows Vistas area is great! We also enjoy places with innovative cocktails like Beatrice and Woodsley.
What’s the best mom and/or parenting advice you’ve received?
The days go slow but the years go fast. When Kade was a baby, he had acid reflux and constant ear and sinus infections. It was hard being a first time mom with a baby who didn’t feel well. I can see now that I had postpartum depression, but didn’t know it at the time. When people would tell me that the days seems long, but his years would go by fast, it would frustrate me. But now I can clearly see that those first two years were hard—but not forever.
What inspires you?
I love to learn and try new things. I’m always searching for ways to be better and do more for myself, my family and my business. It keeps me on my toes!
You started Curate Mercantile and Makers Market. Tell us more!
I cannot take credit for “starting” either of these businesses. I actually started as a vendor at Unlisted Market (which I did rename to Curate Mercantile one year ago). I sold vintage items and refinished furniture as a side gig there. I got to know the owner of the store and she asked me to help out with social media and some marketing, which I was happy to do. After about a year, she asked me if I wanted to become a partner in the business. Last year, she stepped away to raise her precious children, so I am now the sole owner. In January of 2020, I acquired Makers Market with stores in Park Meadows and Southwest Plaza. All the stores feature local vendors and artisans. Each vendor sets up their own shop space with us, but we provide the marketing, staffing, event management, and customer service. They get to focus on creating wonderful items. while we run the brick and mortar stores!
What inspired you to start Curate Mercantile and Makers Market?
When I had my side gig with vintage merchandise and furniture, we’d do pop-up events and shoppers would always ask us, “Where is your store?” We didn’t have an answer. So I started researching places we could set up a small shop without having to really own a store. I was busy with a full time career in PR and Marketing at the time. I stumbled upon what’s now Curate Mercantile and immediately felt at home. The business model works for so many reasons! But what keeps me motivated, are the 150+ vendors who trust us with their business. Their livelihood and passions are reliant upon how successful our stores can be for them. They are some of my biggest cheerleaders. They are also some of my biggest challenges. I know I cannot sit back and coast…they keep pushing me forward and trying new things. I am so happy that we offer local vendors a place to call home! The community around us needs vibrant small businesses. And the saying is true: “When you shop small an actual person does a happy dance.”
What is the best career/business advice you’ve ever received?
Trust your gut. Got an uneasy feeling about something? Trust it and hit the brakes. Feeling complete ease about a new idea….trust it and push the gas.
What is your favorite part about being an entrepreneur?
I love not sitting behind a desk being told what I can and cannot do. I had a GREAT job and was given lots of freedom to explore and grow, but at the end of the day, people up the command chain were in control. As an entrepreneur, I can make those decisions for our businesses. I can also be more nimble than a corporate entity can. Being a small business, we can quickly adapt or change course!
What has been your biggest challenge as an entrepreneur?
Right now I am stretched so thin. I would like to duplicate myself so I could be in more places at once. Having three stores and now an online business, I rely heavily on amazing team members. They keep ALL of this working day-to-day, so I can work more behind the scenes on logistics, marketing, and planning.
What do you do for self-care?
I am terrible at this. Every year I try to tell myself that I need to carve out time for ME. When I do find some time, I love a massage or facial. I LOVE to spend time over coffee, wine or food with friends. Laughter fills my cup and helps me power through the hard stuff.
What is your best mom hack?
I pick my battles. Sometimes, I just can’t handle a big toddler tantrum, so I let Kade make some of his own choices. It’s better for my mental and emotional health to not always have to put my foot down.
Is there anything else about you and/or your business you want to highlight?
During the closures, we started creating and shipping Curated Care Packages. It began as a ‘pay-it-forward’ idea where shoppers would send a care package full of our vendors’ merchandise to a recipient. We create each care package individually, based upon what we learn about each recipient. No two packages are alike! We’ve now shipped more than 1,100 packages across the country! And the orders keep coming!!!! We also realized during the closure that we needed to offer shoppers a way to purchase our vendors’ items online. We JUST launched our online store on June 15th and we’re adding merchandise as quickly as we can get it photographed and listed.