Found among the sewing equipment and office supplies that clutter the front desk of Found Things, a consignment shop located in Paw Paw, Mich., a plaque sits that reads: “With God, all things are possible.”
Joyce Webster, 62, the shop’s owner, said that the plaque serves as a constant reminder of what she finds the most important. Webster said that even though she has faced many challenges, especially as a female small business owner, her success can be attributed to her strong inner faith and perseverance.
“You have to work harder to prove yourself if you are a female. It’s better now than it was nine years ago, but there is still a challenge for female business owners. You have to jump through more hoops,” Webster said.
Born in a log cabin in Missouri during an ice storm, Webster and her family moved to Michigan when she was 9 months old after their home burned down.
As a child, one of Webster’s favorite pastimes was sewing.
“My mother taught me how to sew. I had seven sisters in my family and a brother. Out of all of the seven girls, I think I was the only one really interested in sewing. My lifelong dream was to be a theatrical clothes designer. I never quite made it to theater, but that’s O.K. God put me in a different direction,” Webster said.
After graduating from Bloomingdale High School, Webster married at 19, had four children, two boys and two girls, and she now has eight grandchildren. She was a medical billing specialist for 25 years before she began working in the bridal wear business in 1997.
“My original intent was to make gowns and sell them, but that was very short lived. So I ordered from different bridal manufacturers, and I had a bridal shop in Kalamazoo on West Main and Drake for six years,” Webster said.
Webster said she then turned her attention to other pursuits. In 2003 she bought the building that she first used for a bridal shop, but now houses Found Things, which is located at 202 E. Michigan Ave.
“The building was actually built in 1903, and at the time I bought it, it was 100 years old. It was an old bank, the first bank in Van Buren County. I’ve kept a lot of the original woodwork and it works really well for the antique store now,” Webster said.
Found Things, which contains 18 different dealers and has another 26 on a wait list, opened in July of 2009 and sells a variety of items.
“We have a lot of great gift ideas and things for weddings, birthdays and Christmas. We have something for everyone,” Webster said.
The businesswoman also rents out two apartments above her store and has used her skills as a seamstress to make money doing alterations and custom embroidery.
“As a child, I never thought that sewing would one day pay the bills,” Webster said.
While the shop owner has found success in her business endeavors, she said that her accomplishments have not come without challenges.
Despite the challenges, Webster said that she feels attitude is everything.
“The sky is the limit. Money doesn’t matter. It’s how bad you want it and the rest will come,” Webster said.
Webster also said shehas several interests that she enjoys when she is not working in her consignment store.
“I know this sounds crazy coming from a woman who loves to sew, but I love sports. I love baseball, football, basketball and hockey. I used to have a shop that was a sports shop years ago,” she said.
Webster said she also enjoys traveling in her spare time. She has been to Canada and Mexico and to approximately 40 of the 50 states. She also likes to combine her love of traveling with her strong desire to take part in missionary work.
“I’m getting ready for a mission trip to India right now, but it’s kind of debatable at this point because of the situation in Iran. So it might be canceled or postponed. But I love doing missionary work. I would say that my biggest desire in life right now is to do the missionary work,” Webster said.
She said she feels that one does not have to travel oversees to do missionary work.
“It’s helping a neighbor. It’s helping someone carry something out to their car. It can just be local,” Webster said.
Webster said she also volunteers at Wings of God, a local home that helps women in transition.
“It’s all Christian based and they learn a lot about God, they learn a lot of moral values and a lot of self-help,” she said.
In the years to come, Webster said that her biggest goals are to continue her missionary work and to enjoy every moment with her grandchildren that she possibly can.
Webster said that at this point, she has no desire to retire. The store owner said she loves life and she loves people.
“Sometimes the cards are stacked against you. But you learn to persevere. I have a lot of inner faith and I have a lot of drive. I think through God you can do anything you want to do, you just have to believe in yourself,” Webster said.