Biz Buzz: Dubuque cosmetics store moves; wine boutique coming to SW Wisconsin; Dubuque woman teaches self-defense, kickboxing

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Biz Buzz shares business tidbits from across the tri-state area. This edition highlights developments in Dubuque and Cassville, Wis.

A longtime Dubuque cosmetics studio and boutique has moved to a new location.

Merle Norman Cosmetics & Boutique is now at 806 Wacker Drive, Suite 138, next to Copyworks. Owner Angie Crosby-Williams said she held a soft opening on Thursday.

“I want to build relationships with my clients and make people feel beautiful,” she said. “It’s not a job if you love what you do.”

Merle Norman Cosmetics started nearly 92 years ago and now has more than 1,100 studios in the U.S. and Canada, according to the company’s website.

Crosby-Williams said she opened the Dubuque location 16 years ago in Kennedy Mall. She decided to move the studio after being told in August that mall officials needed the Merle Norman location for a new store coming to the facility.

“(Mall officials) were willing to relocate me, but I decided it was time to move,” she said. “All of my clients are excited that they can pull right up and walk into the store.”

Kennedy Mall spokesman Joe Bell said he could not yet share details about the new store because the deal with the retailer is being finalized.

“We are going to be taking that (former Merle Norman) space to accommodate a new, larger tenant that’s coming,” he said.

Crosby-Williams said she always has liked the Wacker Plaza area, and she took advantage of a space when it came up for rent.

The studio’s main focus is makeup, all of which is made in the U.S. The studio also carries 10 different skincare lines and does makeup for many weddings, Crosby-Williams said.

The business also provides piercings. Crosby-Williams said she typically does more than 70 ear piercings per month. The location also sells jewelry and clothing, including KanCan jeans that Crosby-Williams said are new to the store.

“All of our customers are super excited,” she said. “They love the new location.”

Dubuque’s Merle Norman can be found online at and on Facebook at

The studio’s hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday. For Sunday and Monday hours, check online.

Wine boutique coming to southwest Wisconsin

A wine boutique will open in Cassville in the coming months.

The Neighborhood Slush will open at 103 W. Amelia St., across the street from the Cassville Municipal Building. Owner Carrie Wunderlin said the business will open in the spring, hopefully in April.

“I’m on the whimsical side, so I wanted a place where people can have fun that’s more lighthearted and a space that can reflect my own personality,” she said. “I’m looking forward to bringing in something that’s different to Cassville to help with tourism and give people a different spot to go to.”

Wunderlin previously worked at a winery before deciding to create her own wine bar. She said she is looking for wines from small wineries around the U.S. and the globe for the boutique’s wine and wine slushies. The business also will sell nonalcoholic wines.

“I want the wines to have a good story, like the family that grows the grapes has a cool story or it’s a woman-owned operation,” she said. “I want it to strike up a conversation.”

The wine boutique also will sell “self-care” items, Wunderlin said, such as bath salts and candles, as well as jewelry and T-shirts.

Wunderlin said she still is working on finalizing the space’s design, and she just painted the dark gray walls a light pink.

“I’m trying to make it a light, boutique kind of feel,” she said.”

Updates on progress on The Neighborhood Slush can be found on Facebook and on Instagram @the_neighborhood_slush.

Dubuque woman teaches self-defense to empower others

A Dubuque woman is using her kickboxing and self-defense classes to teach people in Dubuque to empower themselves.

Eryka Cook owns Empowermental, a studio at 2223 Key Way Drive that is in the same building as 3 Willows Wellness Center. While she opened the studio in the summer of 2021, Cook is focused on continuing to grow and teach others the skills she found helpful in her own life.

“Technically, (my interest in self-defense) started back when my dad and my uncle got me involved in martial arts when I was in middle school, when I was getting severely bullied,” she said. “It was a little bit self-defense, a little bit of a confidence booster.”

When she attended University of Dubuque in 2002, Cook began teaching self-defense classes to fellow students. After graduating, she continued teaching classes in people’s garages and other community spots.

Cook said she decided to open a studio after speaking about self-defense at an event in 2021. Now, she teaches kickboxing and self-defense classes, and another instructor teaches Zumba and PiYo, a mix of Pilates and yoga.

“I have taught people as young as 6 and as old as 70,” Cook said. “But the self-defense classes are broken up into age ranges, just because a 6-year-old can’t do the same thing and needs to focus on different things than a 16-year-old does.”

In addition to the physical aspects of self-defense, Cook said she also teaches both the mental and vocal aspects. She also focuses on real-life situations, such as dealing with bullies or issues that might arise at parties.

“I enjoy it because I even refound my power that I had kind of forgotten I had,” she said. “I’ve just loved the kids that I have and the adults and see them realize that they do have that strength, even if somebody told them for years they didn’t.”

More information on Empowermental, including information on classes, can be found at or on Facebook at