In Marketplace

It's a bittersweet decision for Melissa Thornton. (PHOTO: Royal Brevvaxling)

Waxwing owner takes MilwaukeeHome brand under her wing

Steph Davies, the owner of The Waxwing, has purchased the MilwaukeeHome brand from Melissa Thornton.

"They will be separate entities under one ownership that support each other," says Davies. "MilwaukeeHome store will be focused on the brand Melissa built and partnering with artists to bring their ideas to that specific brand, and Waxwing will continue on as is."

Both Thornton and Davies are mothers, so it's fitting and heartfelt that they refer to this as an "open adoption."

"I value (Thornton) and all that she has done and she's not going to disappear," says Davies. "MilwaukeeHome is what it is because of all that she made it and all that the community has brought to it. It truly is a brand built by the community. I'm beyond honored to be a part of it and feel both intimidated and excited to take on this task."

When Thornton started her MilwaukeeHome brand seven years ago, she had no idea it would become one of the city's most recognizable local brands. Thornton had great success selling her T-shirts, hoodies, mugs, koozies, pillows and other products with the now-famous stacked lettering in a box both at festivals and later in her Third Ward shop, 159 N. Jackson St.

Thornton's love for her business and Milwaukee fueled her passion for years. She even planned to expand the brand into other cities. But, as the great, late John Lennon once said, "Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans."

A few years ago, Thornton fell in love with a man who later became her husband and the two had a (beautiful) boy, now 2, named Foley. Thornton's husband recently took a temporary/long-term job in another state and she, at first, was committed to making it all work: her family, her business and her personal happiness.

After a few months, it became clear that it was time to focus on family, but she wanted to keep MilwaukeeHome alive so, after extensive soul searching, she offered the business to Davies.

"Sometimes the equation of life changes and that's pretty much what happened to me and my decision to pass the torch onto Steph," says Thornton. "MilwaukeeHome was my life for almost seven years. It was my everything.

"I poured my heart and soul into it and I ended up getting that back from the community I helped build through MilwaukeeHome. But, eventually, life changes."

Davies says it's a natural fit for her existing brand.

"It's already clicking together," says Davies. "I'm excited to be able to work with local artists in fresh new ways and to be a part of such an incredible story that Melissa created."

For Thornton, it is truly a bittersweet decision, but one she knows is right for herself and family at this time.

"I'm excited for what the future will bring but I'm sad to say goodbye. And it's not goodbye Milwaukee, it's goodbye to being that inspiration to others, or it's goodbye to the brand lovers and the community I felt a part of," says Thornton. "I'm just really grateful I was able to build something that came from my heart and that the community embraced it in such a way that it is bigger than I could even imagine."

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