Salon with ‘big-city feel, small-town atmosphere’ to celebrate grand opening Thursday in Ursa
URSA, Ill. — Jess Duncan always had wanted to become a cosmetologist.
When she and her husband Taylor bought a house in Ursa four years ago, Duncan quickly found the exact place where she wanted to own her own business.
Now she’s finally seeing both dreams come true.
Duncan & Co. is having a grand opening celebration from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 1. Three cosmetologists — Duncan, Olivia Lynn and Hannah Kasparie — have set up business at 108 N. Warsaw in Ursa, as well as the Farmhaus Coffee Company, Bladed Brows by Maggie and the A Plus Clay Co.
Duncan had worked in accounting for a local manufacturing company for seven years, but she gave up that security for a chance to become her own boss.
“I’ve always wanted to go to cosmetology school, and when my husband and I started talking about having kids, he really pushed for me to go to school and pursue this dream of mine,” Duncan said. “It was really scary. I had to quit my job, and we lived off Taylor’s income.
“Before I went back to school, I had drove past this building every day going to my job (in Quincy). I told my husband, ‘I want to own that building one day.’ Finally one day, I just reached out to the owner of the building and said ‘Hey, if you ever decide to sell this building, I want it.’ I didn’t know her from Adam, and I thought she would think I was just crazy.”
The building owner was Julie McAllister, who operated a Country Financial business. She told Duncan it would be three to five years before she would sell, as she was looking to retire.
“And I was like, ‘That’s perfect. That lines up with my timeline,’” Duncan said.
Duncan graduated from cosmetology school in June 2021. She said McAllister approached her soon afterward to tell her she was retiring at the end of the year, and the building would be available for sale.
“OK, I guess it’s now or never,” Duncan said with a laugh. “So my husband and I jumped on it.
“And then we found out we were pregnant.”
As the Duncans gutted and renovated the building, they also celebrated the birth of a daughter, who recently turned three months old.
Duncan also had plenty of room for other businesses in her new building.
“I was seeking a coffee shop because, well, I mean, who doesn’t love coffee?” she said. “Everybody who comes to sit in my chair brings me a coffee, so I knew it would go over really well. But I just wasn’t sure who I wanted.
“Jen (Duesterhaus) and Hannah (Muegge) are two of my clients. They have been getting their hair done by me since I was in cosmetology school. They approached me with their idea. They’re Christian ladies, and they’re from the community already. Everything just lined up with my vision.”
Both Farmhaus Coffee Company owners have full-time jobs. Duesterhaus is a care coordinator at Blessing Hospital, and Muegge is a credit analyst at First Bankers Trust Company. Both are married to local farmers.
“We will still continue to work our full-time jobs, and then we’ll both manage the coffee shop,” Muegge said. “We’re hoping to employ several local people, too.
“This is something we’ve been talking about doing for several years. We just never really found the right property. When Jess found out she was purchasing the building and had space available for a lease, we decided to jump on the opportunity.”
Duncan and Muegge are excited to bring new businesses to Ursa, which has a population of about 600 people.
“We really wanted to do something to spur the economic development within the community, because the community really is wonderful,” Muegge said. “We’re also hoping that, with Highway 96 being such a heavily traveled highway for commuters, that we will have a lot of people stop by as they’re driving into work daily.”
Duncan & Co. had a soft opening earlier this month. Thursday’s grand opening will have a ribbon cutting, complimentary cocktails, stocking stuffers, shopping and coffee samples. Sweet P Petals, a mobile flower trailer, will offer bouquets, and Tri-State Sno Biz will offer shaved ice.
“We want this business in our community to be a welcoming place for people to come and be pampered,” she said. “I love this small-town community. I see how many cars drive by and how close it is to Quincy, but Ursa still has this small-town feel.
“I love participating in the homecoming hairdos and the community events. It all just lined up with my vision of being in a small town, but my salon has an upscale big-city feel and with a cozy small-town atmosphere.”
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