Photo credit: Patricia Heal
Making Life Beautiful: Juliette Hermant and Maison Bergogne
In Maison Bergogne, owner Juliette Hermant skillfully combines a lifelong love of art, French design and vernacular aesthetics in the design firm and boutique she founded nearly a decade ago in the tiny town of Narrowsburg, NY, tucked between the Catskills and Poconos.
Her business grew largely by word-of-mouth in admiration of the uniquely beautiful interior and exterior spaces that she creates for her clients. In addition, visitors experience her curated and wonderfully ambient sets — an eclectic mix of antiques and high-quality local products, art and found objects — at her boutique of the same name.
Here’s how Pursuit is helping Juliette fully realize her vision and bring new opportunities to life.
A design legacy begins in a historic building
“Maison Bergogne is located in a charismatic building, and I wanted to bring it to its full potential, both as a home for my business and as a place where visitors could wander in to experience objects or further converse. In that sense, I think of it as so much more than a shop, a place to exchange thoughts and feel present,” Juliette explains.
After purchasing the 4,500 square-foot former school bus garage built in the 1920s, Juliette sought funding to restore the building and bring it back to life. “I adore the simple brick and I-beam structure, it’s delightfully authentic, but as I found it, it was too large to approach the remodeling with a traditional mind set. I couldn’t raise the colossal capital needed to an extended renovation,” she says.
Today, in addition to her shop and design office, Maison Bergogne is evolving as a showroom, design studio and seasonal experiential space for small gatherings.
“For the first time, I feel like I can fully realize my vision,” Juliette says. “Having smart funding to do that makes all the difference, it opens possibilities.”
Unprecedented times call for flexible funding
Juliette had explored other funding opportunities and applied for some but found that Maison Bergogne didn’t meet all the lending criteria. Additionally, she found that the restrictions on the funds meant that she would have to spend in ways that weren’t as beneficial to building her business.
Juliette learned about Pursuit through an online search and asked her advisor at the SBA for insight.
“I learned that Pursuit has a great reputation as a small business funder and it was true. The experience of working with Pursuit was wonderful, it seemed serendipitous,” she says. “My lending officer, Nicole, really got to know me and my vision for the business. She’s a powerhouse, efficient, personable, available, gracious and lovely to work with and she was tireless in helping me to get the funding that I needed.”
“The application and approval processes were easy, really, very straightforward. And with Nicole’s help, everything fell into place. As far as business loans go, it all felt very personal and nice,” says Juliette.
Juliette recently received a New York Forward loan and an SBA microloan through Pursuit and is using the funds to strengthen her design-services business and brick-and-mortar offerings. In addition, she plans to expand online offerings to build her geographic reach and create another revenue source, which is particularly important given the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Fortunately, I was able to offer design services, but I had to close the shop for about two months. It was early spring and things are typically quieter here then, so it wasn’t catastrophic,” she explains. “Still, no one was buying, so it was difficult.”
Finding new opportunities
Asked if the pandemic helped her discover any new opportunities, she says, “Yes! Elopements!”
She explains, “People are still getting married, but they’re not throwing large-scale weddings. I found an opportunity to use my skills as a set designer, as well as this charismatic building and the surrounding area to create wonderful, small-scale wedding vignettes. It’s a whole new line of business for me, yet it feels naturally part of my skills array. It reminds us that we can still create something wonderful through whatever happens in life. It helps me rethink everything we choose to do together!”
She adds, “Many people who had weekend homes here are relocating permanently, so that brings changes and opportunities, too.”
When asked for insights for other business owners during these uncertain times, Juliette says, “Every small business matters, especially now. You’ve made a deep personal and professional commitment to your business, and as business owners, we begin to doubt ourselves when things are hard. Continue to believe in yourself and find people who support your vision.’’
Talk to Pursuit about ways we can help your business
“Your business is a reflection of you and you deserve both the support and the autonomy to decide how to grow. That’s so important. And as small business owners, we know what we need,” Juliette says. “We can plan and have intentions, but we also need the flexibility to find opportunities and grow in the those directions. Often, funders don’t allow for that. Pursuit does, and it makes all the difference. Pursuit clearly understands small businesses.”
To learn more about how we can help you, contact us today.