By Sue Moore
Windy Clark, the proprietor of Wind + James in Schoolcraft, told a February meeting of the Schoolcraft Ladies Library about building her events business in an old and decrepit Arco building.
“We were touring this building that my husband, Jamie Clark, had just purchased on Eliza Street with my dad. I was looking for a place to move my ideas for an event space from the Park Trades Building in Kalamazoo. I turned to my dad and said, ‘This is the spot!’ The roof was gone in some places, it was raining and the whole place was in really rough shape,” Windy chuckled as she spoke to the ladies in the club.
It took two years to redo the 10,000 square feet for her portion of the building that Jamie wasn’t renting out to other entities. Then she built a courtyard to add 15,000 sq. feet in back. The whole thing is a stunning place for events in Schoolcraft, said her sidekick, Marci Frederickson. “Windy is a visionary. I met her when I wanted to have a party there and realized how happy the place is. It has such a feeling of joy inside. I said to her, ‘I could work here,’ so she hired me on the spot. It’s just the two of us, learning as we go at every event because we have to pay the rent. We do fashion shows, Boss Day, Expos, photo shoots and even a prom this spring. There’s so much creativity going on, it’s hard sometimes to do the invoicing.”
The dream team got started when Windy was working as a marketing person at Harley-Davidson in Kalamazoo. Jamie came in to get a deal on a bike for a raffle he was heading up for the Three Rivers Chamber of Commerce. They married, settled down in Vicksburg and now have four children.
Windy started life with children, by making cakes for people. She wanted to run art classes and purchased a business that was headquartered in the Park Trades Building. When the building was open in Schoolcraft, she moved the art classes there. She’s no longer doing classes; the event space is taking up all of her time. “Now I have to pencil in my family time because this business has really taken off,” Clark said.
“My joy is feeling good in the moment,” Clark said. “A drive toward joy is a drive toward life. Still, Jamie thinks I should make money. This whole project brings me joy and also to my family. We are all involved.”
The Clarks purchased the old elementary school in Schoolcraft with the original idea of living there. “There are a lot of opportunities we didn’t foresee in the beginning. The Dome has been leasing the gym for sports space and artists have been renting it for studio space, so we have stepped back from the living space idea. I’m just a mom who wanted a place for my personal art and share it with family and friends. The colors, light and open space bring all of us great joy. Now we are looking to enlarge Wind + James to accommodate 900 people when we get the new bathrooms done and the parking figured out.”