When I first moved to Des Moines after leaving New York City, I had randomly come across Eden after exploring the East Village one afternoon. Coffee in hand, I spotted Eden. As I entered the store, I immediately felt that I had found my official go-to shop for my favorite home and bath purchases.
As I scanned each section, I recognized more and more brands that I loved and used, and felt so happy that I had a found access to brands that I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to find in Des Moines. Honestly, I felt like I still lived in New York City.
After months and months of shopping at Eden, I knew that featuring and photographing this lovely shop for my blog was a natural fit. But more importantly, I wanted to give Jen Hansen, owner of Eden, a space to tell her story of her beloved shop.
For Jennifer Hansen, opening up her own shop had been a dream since she was a young girl. She first got her start by playing ‘store’ and running garage sales for her mother at their home.
Her true calling came when she continued to pursue her ‘shop girl’ passion by working at her local Younkers department store in Bettendorf, Iowa, throughout high school. After college, she moved to Des Moines and landed a job in their buying office where she soon met her future husband, John. When Younkers merged with Saks, Inc., she soon found that her unemployment was actually a gift in disguise.
“I was devastated at first,” said Hansen, “but [it quickly] dawned on me that [this] push out of the door was exactly what I needed. When I was in the store, I always wanted to be the one to pick out what was being [sold.] Owning my own shop was the perfect opportunity to have the best of both of these worlds.
I’ve never been much of a risk taker, but with John, and my friend’s and family’s encouragement, I set out to follow my dream. It was one of those ‘now or never’ moments in life, and before I knew it, I found myself taking the plunge whole-heartedly.”
After taking one of the biggest risks of her life, Eden was born. Hansen practically ran Eden by herself when she first opened its doors in 2003 and learned many important lessons along the way.
“If I could go back in time, I would have learned the art of delegating. I’ve learned, over the years, that I can’t do it all. It’s not healthy for me or Eden. I slowly started building a crew and now I have the best people surrounding me that are like family to me.”
She mentions learning how to network her business and reflecting on her strengths and weaknesses as other important learning lessons.
“Network, network, network. Think about your strengths and weaknesses and build your business with people that can help you be the most successful. I love marketing and doing all of our social media, but bookkeeping isn’t my strong point so I rely on others to help me with that so I can focus on what is going to make Eden flourish.
While being a small business owner brings its own set of challenges, Hansen believes that every step of her path has been fulfilling.
“I love the sense of accomplishment that comes from owning my own business,” she said. “It’s a lot of work, but in the end, it’s been so worth it and so very rewarding.
“My favorite thing about Eden is when [my customers] come in and appreciate what we have to offer. Someone recently told me that they needed a pick-me-up and knew a visit to Eden would turn their day around. That just warmed my heart.
“Sometimes, I feel [people who] are traveling from larger cities really appreciate what Eden has to offer and are often surprised to see our selection of apothecary goods. A sweet traveler from Brooklyn recently shared that she’d have to go to five different places in Manhattan to get all of these lines but here [at Eden,] they were all under one roof.”
Hansen prides herself in knowing that Eden can be a one-stop-shop for most of her customers, which is why she took care in curating the brands she carries.
“When I first opened in 2003, I knew I wanted to focus on lines that were hard to find in the midwest. At the time, the Historical Building had a gift shop that was devoted to all things made in Iowa so that niche was already taken. I knew if I could get brands like Kiehl’s and Diptyque, it would really put Eden on the map.
“I had to go through quite a bit of red tape to get approval to carry Kiehl’s. My first attempt ended with a rejection letter, saying they weren’t interested in distributing their line in Iowa. Although I felt defeated at the time, I’m not one to take no for an answer so easily. So, the next year I tried again. Six months of conversations followed and my request was approved at last! Over the years the indie brands have exploded so I knew that I needed to have a nice balance of both big and small vendors.
“With going to market and getting a lot of great feedback from the public on what they are loving, we really try to be in touch with the lines that are making a mark and try to make them a part of Eden [and our customers.]”
While listening to her customers’ needs is a priority for Hansen, she also finds other ways to give back to her local community by using Eden as a space to host parties.
“We built Eden knowing we wanted to host parties as a way of giving back to the community,” said Hansen. “Whether it’s a trunk show for an artist, a book signing, or a special evening where we open Eden for a special private event, we get back tenfold the effort it takes to host the event. [Because] I want to see them succeed, I never take a cut of an artist of author.”
Because she curates every aspect of her shop, Hansen has her own set of favorite beauty go-to products.
“For [my skincare routine], my favorite go-to at night is the Kiehl’s Midnight Recovery Concentrate. It’s a replenishing nighttime oil that visibly restores the appearance of skin by morning. The lavender scent just lulls me to sleep.
For the bath, my favorite indulgent is Fresh’s Sake Bath. Sake Bath is a purifying soak comprised of over 50% detoxifying sake that works to ease body tension and promote relaxation, all while leaving the skin incredibly soft, smooth, and moisturized. The delicately foaming formula was inspired by ancient beauty rituals of Japanese Geisha who were known to use sake to purify and soften their skin. Its luxurious lush scent comes from their tradition of infusing baths with real persimmons.
For a candle, my absolute favorite is Diptyque Feu de Bois. It smells like firewood and just warms my home like no other.”
Both Hansen’s and Eden’s story ring true in one final piece of advice she gives:
“Never give up on your dreams.”
418 E. 6th street
Des Moines, Iowa 50309
Monday-Friday: 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM
Saturday: 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM
Sunday: 12:00 AM – 4:00 PM
Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest