Northern Michigan Shopping: Summertime in Northern Michigan is the perfect environment to entertain family and friends and Northport native, Elizabeth Conger has made it easier than ever to throw an elegant summer soiree. Conger’s artistic placemats from her brand, Belle Banquet make it easier than ever to create a stunning table.
When the economy started to dip, antique dealer and now Belle Banquet founder, Elizabeth Conger wanted to bring elegance and antiques to a more affordable price. “I wanted to bring the beautiful art to an everyday level,” Conger said, “so I created placemats that are works of art. You can have expensive art on your table for $24 retail.”
Conger first started making her placemats on recycled paper with vegetable dye ink. However people started telling her that the placemats were “too pretty to throw away.” Now, the placemats are coated so they can be reused multiple times. “They are still disposable for people who want them for a big event,” Conger said, “or you can leave them on your kitchen counter for three months and they’re durable.”
Conger designs all of the placemats herself, using prints from antiques to create a naturalist, vintage look. Belle Banquet has over 60 designs and Conger is working on creating more. Many of the designs, especially the ones featuring lake fish, birds’ nests and cherries, were inspired by Northern Michigan.
Conger has also dedicated Belle Banquet to being as environmentally friendly as possible. “It’s a unique brand, it’s all recycled, made in the USA, vegetable dye ink and they come in a biodegradable bag,” she said. “We are trying to do all that we can to make a smaller footprint.”
Conger sells her products in stores and galleries throughout the Leelanau Peninsula. And after being featured in Country Living, Cooking Light and Culture magazines, Belle Banquet’s online business has expanded. Conger has sold her placemats throughout the country and ships them from her warehouse in Suttons Bay.