Skip to main content

Boreal Community Media

Grand Marais's Feather Nest Inn offers guests comfort, local products, and sustainability

Oct 12, 2023 11:34AM ● By Content Editor
Photo provided 

By Laura Durenberger-Grunow - Boreal Community Media - October 12, 2023

Growing up in Des Moines, Iowa, Jourdan Engesser loved coming up to her Grandma’s place along the North Shore. Seven years ago, she found herself living off-grid in Colorado when she came to Grand Marais to visit over Christmas. She’s been here ever since. 

As of June 2021, Engesser is the owner of the Feathernest Inn located in Grand Marais, Minnesota. She told Boreal Community Media that owning an Inn or B&B was something she had thought about but wasn’t actively pursuing, until she learned that the previous owner was looking to sell. “The timing just kind of fell together. I have three kids. I needed to find something that was flexible around their schedules,” she said. 

After purchasing the Inn, Jourdan knew that she wanted to run things a certain way: sustainably. To her, sustainability means a focus on local products, paying employees a living wage, and environmentally friendly practices and components. The biggest, and most noticeable are the solar panels that now line the Feathernest Inn roof, which were officially functioning as of July 2023. 

 Photo: Laura Durenberger-Grunow

Although still in its infancy, in an average year, the panels are expected to provide enough electricity to allow the Inn to be considered “net-zero” in electrical use. (Net-zero means that an entity is producing as much energy through solar panels, geothermal, etc as it is utilizing on a day-to-day basis.) Of course in Minnesota, the energy production level is much higher in the summer versus in the winter. In this case, Engesser is able to sell back the extra energy her panels are producing to Grand Marais Public Utilities during summer, which provides an offset credit for the winter months. “It’s really cool, I can see how much energy it’s producing right on an app,” she shared. 

Guests get to enjoy the many local, refillable, and plastic-free products that the Feather Nest Inn offers. Laura Durenberger-Grunow

Other eco-friendly swaps she has made include incorporating local art and pottery into each guest room, and has an overall goal of buying things as local as possible to cut down on shipping emissions and packaging. As an example, she worked with Boreal Soap Co (based out of Joy and Company in Grand Marais) to create a unique bar soap set called The Feather Nest for her guests to use and take home. Guests also receive a small hand lotion bar, also made by Boreal Soap Co. She also purchases refillable cleaning supplies and toiletries that are extra concentrated so that she’s not paying to ship additional packaging and water. Engesser utilizes reusable cloth when she can, purchases eco-friendly bedding and towels, uses LED lighting, and more.

Engesser met with local company Boreal Soap Co to create a unique offering for Feather Nest Inn guests. Laura Durenberger-Grunow

“I knew right away that I didn’t want to cut corners when it came to how I ran the Feather Nest,” she said. And that progress and effort has been paying off. Engesser says that she regularly receives comments from people about the eco-friendly swaps she offers. “I would say about ⅓ of the reviews online mention something regarding the sustainability components we offer,” she added. Guests also ask her about recycling, composting, and other environmentally friendly practices. 

Jourdan is not stopping there. Future plans include revamping the heating system to a more eco-friendly and energy-efficient option, installing batteries to house some of the solar power her panels create in the event of a power outage or other need, and continuing to provide new eco-friendly swaps for conventional products for her guests. And while these things do take time, it’s worth it. “I have the ability to do the right thing so I am,” she said.

To learn more about The Feather Nest Inn, visit:

Related: Grand Marais couple builds net-zero, energy-efficient home

Boreal Ship Spotter - larger view here