With a degree in elementary education and work experience as a manager and a buyer, Amy Ruis takes a well-rounded approach to her nearly 10-year-old business, Art of the Table.
"I got the idea because I love to entertain, drink good wine and beer, cook, and bake," she says. "I always loved retail a lot. Most people say that sounds crazy, but I loved it."
Amy may say she's in the minority when it comes to her love for retail, but because of that love, she has seen her business grow along with her love for providing West Michigan with products to entertain.
To Amy, there are three parts to every gathering–the food, the beverage, and the table setting. She wanted to piece these essentials together in her store to make entertaining simple and more enjoyable for everyone.
Amy is a big supporter of Michigan products like preserves, spreads, beers, and wines, all sold at Art of the Table. She also enjoys bringing the tastes of the world to her customers by blending her local offerings with European treats.
"It's a good international feel, but it's also local," she says.
Amy also stays local by providing nonprofit organizations and events throughout West Michigan with bar tendering services. They're not your typical drink mixers, however, and she says they add a grassroots flair to any event. Amy says she loves giving back to the community that's helped her business to become successful.
"I feel like it's something I can do for others in the community. (We can) work together…" she says.
Amy gives back in other ways, too, and encourages others to do what she did. She says she's all for entrepreneurship.
"I really enjoy watching people formulate their businesses. That intrigues me," she says. "I mentor a lot of people, and we talk about what to do because it can be really confusing! It's a lot of details."
Even though Amy enjoys balancing the details of her own business and community involvement, performing the act at home is not something she says she does well.
"I spend way too much time at my job, so balance is not a word I understand. I'm getting better at delegating," she says.
But Amy's hobbies are not far from her work at Art of the Table. When she finds a rare moment at home, she's usually entertaining guests. She also enjoys traveling with her husband and spending time with her nieces and nephews.
Written by: Erika Fifelski is the West Michigan Woman magazine editorial coordinator. She was born and raised in West Michigan, and after a brief stint on the sunrise side, she's home and loving it. Erika enjoys cooking, vacuuming, and discovering new ways to live sustainably and support local businesses.