Been in business together: Opened February 1997
Editor’s Note: This conversation was entertaining and challenging. These sisters know each other so well they finished each others sentences and talked over each other constantly. I may have attributed the words of one sister to the other, but they don’t mind…
Robyn: We were born and raised in Bismarck, then both of us were gone for several years. We decided to come back since our folks were still here. We always wanted to do something together, so we came back and opened this store.
Rhonda: Since we were young, we always had something cooking, we had lots of ideas. Plus, when we were growing up, our mom had a fabric shop and our aunt owned a business, it’s kind of in our blood. It was our journey.
Robyn: Our mom and dad actually did a lot for us before we moved back. They found the spot for us, and we love this building.
Rhonda: I remember our grand opening, in February, there was a blizzard. We had ordered all of these cupcakes with cute little flowers on top. We just stood here, eating cupcakes, waiting…
IW Did you know how you would divide responsibilities, based on your strengths, etc.?
Robyn: We learned a lot, we did not have any experience. We just jumped in feet first, found some really great people to give us advice, like the SCORE people. It was step by step.
Rhonda: We took our mother to market, she is so business savvy. Plus, she knows the fabrics to look for. She was our rock. And fashion has changed so much. We sold a lot of women’s suits when we first opened.
Robyn: We try to carry clothes for all ages, business to casual.
IW: What were you surprised to learn about each other?
Robyn: Nothing, we have always been close. We’ve known each other our while lives!
IW: Do you ever have disagreements?
Rhonda: No, not really. Robyn is kind of a beige person and I am more of an orange person with purple polka dots. You throw it together and it just works. Except sometimes when something comes in, it’s like, ‘who bought this?’
Robyn: We get along so well that people think we are strange. Our mom and her sister were the same way. One of us may say, ‘I like that’ and the other may say, ‘I don’t really like that’ and we’ll both say, ‘whatever.’ That is the end of it.
IW: What do you like most about working with each other?
Robyn: We are very flexible. We don’t have any employees. We depend on each other to cover what needs to be covered. We know each other so well, it’s not like working with another person, it’s kind of like working with yourself.
Rhonda: If we do need someone to take care of the store we have a couple friends or our aunt will come in and work for us.
IW You mentioned you two always had ideas. What types of things did you try out?
Rhonda: Our parents always encouraged us. Do you remember that one summer we traveled out west to sell t shirts for the 1980 Olympics in Moscow. We loaded up the car with boxes and boxes of t shirts thinking we could stop and sell them at sports events along the way.
Robyn: We even met Bruce Jenner. There were some problems. We found out we needed permits and then the United States ended up boycotting the Olympics. We were under the bushes out in Berkley trying to get people to buy our shirts. We got kicked out of a lot of places. Our mom and dad gave us a car and credit card and said, ‘good for you, off you go.’
They love working together, selling clothes together and just being together. One of them summed up their experience as business owners this way, “Every once in awhile one of us will say, ‘I just love this little store.’”