Always an artist at heart, stay-at-home mom Jill Meerwarth decided to take her love for handmade creations one step further in 2021. On May 27, Meerwarth opened her very first storefront, The Sunroom, in Madison, New Jersey.
Situating itself at 21 Kings Rd., just off of Main St., the shop specializes in vintage homewares, decor, and unique gift items sourced from small makers and artists. Handmade lip balms, keychains, and jewelry line the shop’s shelves; the products are characteristic of the brand’s emphasis on sustainable practices, artistry and nostalgia.
Meerwarth spoke with us about her inspiration for opening the shop, its triumph as a new business, her love for vintage finds and community building in New Jersey.
Who is Jill Meerwarth?
Jill Meerwarth is a mother of three and had been a stay-at-home mom for several years. While at home, she dabbled in creating and selling products as a creative outlet. She would make heart garlands for Valentine’s Day, decoupage pumpkins for Halloween, and decorative ornaments for Christmas. However, her dream has always been to own her own little shop.
Meerwarth is not alone in her endeavor. Her middle child is currently enrolled in a virtual graduate program, has an art background and helps run The Sunroom with her. Her daughter is also behind most of The Sunroom’s social media postings. For Meerwarth, owning her own shop and working alongside her daughter has been a dream come true.
“I think my main goal in opening the shop was creating a space for people to feel welcome and at home so they could take their time browsing and enjoy the experience,” she says.
“I love hunting for treasures as well as the curating process in my shop,” Meerwarth explains. The attention to detail in vintage items like embroideries, needlepoint and cross stitch inspire her. “I like thinking about the person who created these pieces and the time and effort and joy they took in creating them.”
For Meerwarth, the items she selects provide a nostalgic feeling. “Customers love coming in and finding a vintage coffee mug that is reminiscent of younger years at their grandparents’ home,” she says. She enjoys the customers’ glee when they recognize these special pieces.
However, she also enjoys mixing the old with the new by supporting other small businesses and artisans. Meerwarth wants to inspire her customers to have fun curating vintage items alongside their current decor and aesthetic. She states, “Mixing old with new adds character to a space and feels more mindful in many ways.”
Supporting local businesses
Despite The Sunroom’s rough start as a business that opened in the midst of the pandemic, Meerwarth notes that along with the challenges came the benefits. She explains, “People feel safer shopping in small, local businesses.”
Perhaps most essential to The Sunroom is its relationship with the surrounding businesses and its location in Madison, which has three colleges in its vicinity: Drew, Fairleigh Dickinson, and St. Elizabeth University. The Sunroom often partners with local businesses and artisans to provide unique experiences.
The shop recently announced that their customers would get a voucher for a free coffee at the cafe next door, Sunday Motor Co., if they spent more than $25 at The Sunroom.
The shop is also hosting a self-love holiday event for Valentine’s Day on Feb. 4 at 6 p.m. The event will feature artist Cláudia Em as she hosts a crafting class to create vintage-style journals. Journals, accessories and refreshments will be provided for $20. RSVPs are required by Jan. 28 via email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
These partnerships continue to demonstrate The Sunroom’s commitment to building relationships in Madison. “Madison is a lovely community with a thriving downtown,” says Meerwarth. “The residents of Madison and surrounding towns really care about supporting small businesses.”
Aside from its partnerships with other businesses, The Sunroom also offers a 10 percent discount on purchases from local college students if they show their school ID.
Building community in Madison, NJ
“While we think The Sunroom is a unique addition to downtown Madison, we also feel it’s complementary to the community,” says Meerwarth. “We often hear from customers that they’ve just relocated to Madison from Hoboken and Brooklyn and that our shop reminds them of their old neighborhoods.”
For Meerwarth, The Sunroom is not solely about bringing a new business to Madison; The Sunroom is a place where creativity thrives through the curation of vintage and more modern art pieces. It is a local business that supports other local businesses and it’s a location where people in Madison, and outside of it, can find a community.
Meerwarth reflects, “this feels like home. We’ve met so many nice people and new friends. It’s a place I love coming to every day.”
Main image courtesy of @thesunroomnj