Small Business Spotlight: URSA

By Cherita Booker
January 20, 2023

In this Bay View neighborhood shop, “U” stands for unique. Whether you’re buying something for someone else, your house, or yourself, this one-stop shop has it all!

Badger State born and raised, Emily Sturdy has spent her entire life living in and loving Wisconsin. Whether she’s hiking, swimming, camping, skiing, playing music, or playing with her pets, Emily enjoys doing, and being surrounded by, things she loves. That’s why, six years ago, she opened her own small business: a space to sell unique items that bring her joy, in hopes they’ll inspire others.

Cherita Booker, UpNorthNews Reporter: What inspired you to open a business?

Emily Sturdy, URSA Owner: I worked in retail for more than 15 years, and I always knew I wanted to combine my love of curation and design with my retail expertise to open my own shop. In 2016, my husband and I started making our own line of apothecary products (salts, body oils, and soaps) under the name, URSA. And in 2017, we opened our store.


Cherita: What made you choose the name URSA?

Emily: The name Ursa means Bear in Latin. We enjoy stargazing so it’s named for the Ursa Major and Ursa Minor constellations. (Big Bear and little bear, aka the big and Little Dipper.)

Cherita: What kinds of products do you sell at URSA?

Emily: We call our business a lifestyle shop, which means we carry a wide variety of products to fit all aspects of your life! We have fragrances like candles, incense, and perfume to keep yourself and your space smelling great. We have jewelry, clothes, and accessories to adorn yourself. We have natural skincare and body products to care for yourself. We have small-batch olive oil, spices, jams, and chocolate to keep your pantry stocked. And we have houseplants, flowers, artwork, and homegoods to make your space a sanctuary.

Cherita: What do you love most about your business?

Emily: The storefront itself is a beautiful light-filled space with tall ceilings, arched windows, large plants, and terrazzo floors. We emphasize the in-person shopping experience and want you to feel happy, relaxed, and inspired. We get new products on a weekly basis, which keeps the shop feeling fresh and fun!


Cherita: What’s been the hardest part?

Emily: The pandemic and inflation put a strain on small businesses everywhere. It’s important to us to continue giving our customers quality products at a variety of price points, so anyone can shop here. 

Cherita: How is your business different?

Emily: We strive to find unique items! There are tons of independent artists and makers in our community, so we focus on sharing their work. We’re proud to support so many other small businesses!


Cherita: Do you feel supported by your local community?

Emily: We’re lucky to be in a city as wonderful as Milwaukee. Bay View is filled with independent restaurants, bars, record shops, boutiques, and other places that make it great for visitors and locals. Many of our vendors are local artists, so we’re able to both support and be supported by our community.

Emily encourages everyone that can to shop at and support small businesses whenever possible– positive Yelp reviews count! URSA is located at 2534 S Kinnickinnic Ave, Milwaukee, WI 53207


  • Cherita Booker

    Milwaukee native Cherita Booker attended the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and has worked in various roles as a multimedia journalist since 2017. She enjoys photography, dancing, and spending time with friends and family.

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