June & December in Berkley offers home goods, cards and products with original artwork. The shop’s collections are now in 675 stores nationwide.
By Melissa Burden
Photography by Rachel Woolf
Inspired by curiosity, nature and nostalgia, June & December has created a growing collection of original artwork that decorates home goods and paper gifts sold in stores across the U.S. and online.
Founded in 2014 by Katie and Nick Forte, the Berkley-based business is named after the birth months of their children, Olivia, 13, who is their June baby, and Nathan, 10, who was born in December.
“We came from different backgrounds. I was in a family business with my parents, locally,” explains Nick, 39. “And I was ready to change things up from my career. Katie was in a different background as well (advertising). We decided to join our expertise and work together. … We complement each other really well.”
Now in 675 stores nationally and counting, June & December products are Katie’s creation. She hand-draws her designs — such as flowering veggies and cocktail herbs — and then uses a computer program to finish each piece.
She also carefully chooses colors derived from nature. Then, June & December works with screen printers, who mix eco-friendly ink in small batches to get the hues just right.
Last fall, the Troy couple moved June & December’s headquarters from their home to a 1,200-square-foot space on Coolidge Highway. The retail storefront showcases June & December’s cards, pads of paper, throw pillows, towels, napkins and more. The back serves as the studio and production area.
“Berkley is kind of centrally located between Birmingham, Royal Oak, Ferndale, Clawson, so it’s in the heart of that community,” Nick says. “…We thought it would be great spot to plant some roots.”
Last year, the business was featured in Better Homes & Gardens, which Nick and Katie say informed people nationwide about their brand.
June & December collections change with the seasons. The spring/summer line includes designs such as Monarchs & Milkweeds, featuring orange monarch butterflies, and Butterfly House, a pattern of colorful yellow, blue-gray and pink butterflies.
The Fortes say they wanted to design affordable products that can be used every day. Hot sellers include towels and napkins. “Some of the herb designs have done really well, as well as the wildflowers and butterflies right now have been very popular,” Nick says.
All of June & December’s creations have a story behind them and usually start with Katie being curious about something and researching it.
“One summer I asked Nick’s dad, who has some property in the thumb (of Michigan), to plant a field of wildflowers … and that kind of inspired our meadow design, which is all wildflowers,” Katie says. “That also inspired our regional wildflower patterns, which are wildflowers from the different regions of the United States.”
They’re also proud that many of their items are made in Michigan and environmentally friendly. An example is June & December’s pencil terrariums, which run $14 and include five pencils. Instead of packaging them in plastic, the Fortes chose glass, so customers can use the packaging later as a propagation vase for a plant. They even sell a wooden base for it made from reclaimed Michigan wood.
Mackerel Sky Gallery of Contemporary Craft, a gift store in East Lansing, has carried June & December products since 2015.
Co-owner Linda Dufelmeier says she likes that June & December is Michigan-based and enjoys their graphics. She first stocked June & December’s flour sack towels and boxed notecards. She’s also carried their Christmas cards and napkins, and is excited to add June & December’s new bistro aprons.
“The flour sack towels have been a hit particularly with people traveling who would like to take a gift from Michigan with them,” Dufelmeier says. “They are easy to pack, unique (and) well designed.”
June & December products are in a few international stores, including Globus department stores in Switzerland and some boutiques in Canada. The Fortes plan to continue expanding collections and products into more stores in the U.S.
June & December also has enjoyed the retail environment Berkley’s downtown offers, Nick says. They have participated in events Berkley hosts such as Ladies Night shopping outings (upcoming July 19); Art & About on the second Friday evening of summer months and the Berkley Street Art Fest July 14.
“The city is working really hard to try and further develop the town for shopping, drawing in new businesses and expanding and growing the downtown districts,” Nick says. “And so they’ve been very supportive.”
June & December
2670 Coolidge Hwy., Berkley