National Small Business Week (May 2-8, 2021) is an opportunity to celebrate small businesses and their contributions to our local communities and the national economy.
According to the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), more than half of Americans either own or work for a small business, creating nearly two out of every three new jobs in the United States each year.
Kossuth County is fortunate to have many individuals and families start and grow their small businesses in our communities; that entrepreneurial mindset drives economic growth. Having an entrepreneurial mindset means seeing opportunities where others may see none and developing solutions that provide value and serve others. That spirit of entrepreneurial mindset spurred the creation of a unique business out of a century-old Methodist church.
Nestled between farm fields on Highway P30, just five miles north of Algona, sits a quaint church and parsonage, the former Good Hope Methodist Church, built in 1897. For many years, the vibrant rural church drew many area families for worship services, baptisms, weddings, church dinners, and funerals. One of the dedicated Good Hope member families was the Dodds’. The Dodds family lived on a farmstead south of the church. The entire family was active in the church; mother Helena played the organ, father Jim served on the board of directors, and their children all served in various roles from janitor to Sunday school and Bible school teachers. The church was their second home. Sadly, over the years, membership waned, and the Good Hope Methodist Church was closed and deconsecrated in 2005 after 108 years of service. An auction was held to sell off the church contents.
Once a youngster growing up and serving in the church and now an orthopedic surgeon in Lansing, Michigan, Julie Dodds came home to attend the auction with intentions to purchase the organ her mother had played for years. Upon hearing the ideas from some interested in buying the church building, Dodds could not conceive of the potential of the building not being cared for, or worse yet, being taken down and losing the many memories it held from her childhood. She put in a bid and became the new owner of the church.
Inspired by her love of quilting, Dodds envisioned repurposing the church into a quilting and crafting retreat, and she sought her family’s help to renovate the church in which they had all grown up. The vision became a reality – The Quilted Steeple opened in the fall of 2013. It is a multi-purpose destination retreat for avid quilters and crafters and a venue for family/friend/business celebrations or getaways. The venue boasts full-service amenities, including creative workspaces, sleeping accommodations for up to fifteen, and kitchen and dining facilities. The quiet setting and socializing nooks, including a screened-in porch and scenic balcony, provide a tranquil respite for guests who come from throughout the country. Julie Dodds is the business owner, and sister Susan Busch is the business manager.
Susan oversees the day-to-day operations and venue marketing. She readily admits she has had a learning curve in managing the business but credits the Iowa Lakes Community College Tietz Entrepreneurial Center’s marketing and social media classes for helping build her marketing knowledge and skills. She encourages others to take advantage of the Iowa Lakes Community College Tietz Entrepreneurial Center course offerings and appreciates that it is a resource for Kossuth County entrepreneurs and businesses.
Learn more about The Quilted Steeple at www.quiltedsteeple.com. Learn more about the Tietz Entrepreneurial Center at www.iowalakes.edu/tec.