Tell us the story of your business/nonprofit and how it’s evolved.
Birch Tree Books started as a dream that downtown Leesburg could one day have an independent bookstore. Bookstore’s are different from any other retail store in that they thrive by hosting events for authors, book clubs and other community events.
As the world emerged from the Covid pandemic I knew that this was the time to launch a bookstore and provide a space for people to gather and talk about books. I started small by popping up at farmers markets and in front of local businesses like Muz and Rose, Dig Records and Vintage, King Street Coffee, and The Embark Center. I quickly built a customer base and was able to secure Birch Tree’s first home in a small space in the building with Cowbell Kitchen and The Corner Store. After a year in the space on North King Street, I realized that Birch Tree needed its own space, and found its current home at 11 West Market Street.
Because life is more fun with friends, Birch Tree Books brought Foliage Plants on board to curate a beautiful space where everyone can find books and plants they love. Together we host 13 book clubs throughout the months and partner with many local organizations such as LCPL, Loudoun Wildlife Conservatory and Loudoun Pride. Birch Tree Books and Foliage Plants always have a full calendar of events that range from book clubs, author events, and workshops to storytimes and first Friday activities.
What are you most proud of when it comes to your team?
We are a team of 7 women who truly care about the work we do for the community. We each have our own talent and strength we bring to the store everyday. This business is a success because of our collective dedication and teamwork. I couldn’t have imagined a more passionate and empathetic team.
It’s been an adventure working alongside Ami Mason, owner of Foliage plants located within Birch Tree. Her environmental expertise and passion for plant care has a huge role in creating the welcoming customer experience.
In what ways do you give back to the Loudoun community?
Giving back to the community is the heart of this business. Not only do we talk passionately about the books we love, but we host local authors and promote their books, and host literary events for kids and adults.
But beyond books, I understand that to have a thriving downtown we need thriving businesses. As part of the business community, I think of creative ways to partner and promote businesses to draw people to downtown. In July 2023 Birch Tree led the town-wide Where’s Waldo Shop Local campaign where we partnered with 24 small businesses for a month-long scavenger hunt to find Waldo and mark a Bingo card. People in town and surrounding areas visited downtown and chatted with business owners and found the charm in our little town.
What would it mean to you and your business to win a Small Business Award?
I think the biggest challenge small businesses face is visibility. You can work tirelessly to provide experiences, host events, and give back to the community, but if people don’t know you exist, you can do the work. If Birch Tree Books wins the Small Business Award we hope that we can spread the word that everyone should make the switch from buying your books on Amazon or at Barnes and Noble, because Birch Tree supports our downtown business and Loudoun County.
Who is the one person that has influenced you the most in your career?
I have met so many people along my bookstore journey who make this life so much fun and fulfilling. One of the first calls I made when I was researching how to open a bookstore was Marleen England, owner of Curious Iguana in Frederick, Maryland and Word Play in Wardensville, West Virginia. She always makes me feel like I can do this, and that this work is worth doing.
What did you want to be when you grew up as a child?
I wanted to be a teacher for as long as I can remember. I made that dream come true with my teaching degree and BA in English Literature. I taught for about 10 years before I started my next life as a mother. Now that my children are in elementary and middle school I have more flexibility to put my heart into this life at the bookstore.
If you’re not in the office, where can we find you/what is another passion you have?
I’m a runner. You can find me on the W&OD trail and the streets of my neighborhood.
How do you see your business evolving in the next 5 years?
We want to see the downtown become a Main Street Community, with Birch Tree as the anchor. I want Birch Tree Books to be a must-see destination for Northern Virginia and a reason to visit Leesburg.
Check out the Birch Tree Bookstore in Leesburg!