Hertel is getting more interesting by the minute. This time, Courtney Nelson-Benton is opening a boutique that specializes in home decor, floral sage sticks, and artisan incense.
Born and raised in Buffalo, Courtney has definitely done her research when it comes to sourcing natural herbs and resins, may of which are grown/yielded in California. “That’s where they cultivate the most natural sacred plants and herbs,” she told me. “So many people buy these products online from places like Amazon, but they don’t know where they are actually from. Many incenses (sage and palo santo) use chemicals that are harmful. I’m very particular about what I buy and carry in the store. The plants and herbs carry energy – you want to know what energy you’re bringing into your house.”
Since 2018, Courtney has been preparing for this new venture in various ways. She started making custom wreathes that she sold at local craft fairs and indie markets. From there, she began to sell holders for incense, candles, etc. Her business grew and grew, while she entertained thoughts of starting an interior design and home decor business. But when the pandemic hit, she shifted her plans, to open a store that would offer customers a number of products that were hard to find in WNY – products that would help people feel more at home… in their own homes.
“With the pandemic, I knew that I wouldn’t be able to go to people’s homes, so I refocused my energies more into the home decor. I always loved connecting to customers at the shows,” said Courtney. “Meeting people face-to-face is important to me. I like to build connections with the community. As for my look, I will be carrying classic pieces of home decor, on trend, but with longevity. There will be an emphasis on local women artisans, handmade goods, and items sourced from small makers. I will also be making some of the items, such as the sage sticks – I do the herb mixtures… for example, cedar (protects the heart and home, lavender (positivity), and black sage (relaxes and prompts pleasant dreams).”
Courtney will also carry crystals, textured pillows, beautiful candle holders, handmade blankets, vases, and plant pot holders, for example.
“I’m passionate about how my space looks and feels,” she told me. “I’ve been obsessed with plants since the covid hit. I will have lots of items for plant moms…”
Courtney is not a new age hippie, but she is hip to the new age. I believe that the pandemic has taught us to look inward, and outward. To look at the world in different ways, and to tap into our senses more, whether it’s enjoying food subtleties, practicing with breathing techniques, exploring natural and organic elements… or simply appreciating the presence of a living plant.
Hertel is lucky to have such a positive force planting stakes.
Elle James Decor is projected to open in early spring at 1856 Hertel Avenue.