Lynn Motteberg began a new adventure last fall, both personally and professionally, when she took over the local boutique, Laurie’s!
Around 40 years ago, Laurie’s boutique opened inside the West Acres mall. Today, you’d never guess that the up-to-date store located in one of the new developments along 45th Street would have such a long history in the FM area. The reopening of Laurie’s this fall was just as much a win for the community as it was a perfectly timed opportunity for the new owner, Lynn.
The story of Laurie’s does begin with a founder named—you guessed it—Laurie. Since then, the other owners have decided to stick with the same name, as has the current owner, Lynn Motteberg. Lynn’s story of becoming the owner of the boutique is supported by the desire to grow an already established and loved community, but largely sprung from her own personal success story.
Lynn has always had a connection to fashion—during her childhood, she was drawn to beauty and clothing. Later on in her life, she gained experience working at Dayton’s (now Macy’s) in Grand Forks and selling cabi clothing to her community. Now, she is taking over Laurie’s.
Between the fashion-focused endeavors, though, Lynn had plenty of other personal and professional opportunities.
Lynn grew up in a small town north of Grand Forks. She was originally brought to Fargo for her position as co-manager at Bath & Body Works. She said she has a special place for retail in her heart because, at its core, it’s about helping people. She didn’t realize it then, but that passion would propel her into her current position at Laurie’s years later.
Within years after starting at Bath & Body Works, she became the store manager which eventually led to her specifically working on developing leaders within the company.
“Any opportunity I had to be able to help somebody into [their role], whether it be a co-manager, a sales lead or to run their own store, it just filled my bucket,” Lynn said.
She worked at Bath & Body Works for 10 years before she made the decision to leave, as working night and weekend shifts had become increasingly difficult due to having her fourth child. To fulfill the daytime hours schedule that worked better for herself and her family, she looked to real estate, but it wasn’t an easy leave from retail.
“After many, many interviews, and hard decisions, I made the move into real estate. I wasn’t going into real estate to technically sell real estate, I was going there to run a real estate team,” Lynn said. “While there, Keller Williams was so amazing with mindset and helping you [understand that] who you become is much more important than what you get—it’s not about that, it’s about who you become in the process. I had some amazing mentors and coaches while I was at Keller Williams who I will probably know for the rest of my life because they have had such a huge impact on me and my kids.”
Lynn’s role at Keller Williams was mainly leadership and recruiting agents, although she did end up getting her real estate license. She did that for the last nine years until she had a conversation with one of the coaches at Keller Williams.
“One day he asked me if we could take off all the hats and [if he could] just personally coached me, and that was pretty much when things really just started to click with me,” Lynn said. “He asked me some really tough questions, and then he asked, ‘When was the last time you did something for yourself?’”
This coach encouraged Lynn to leave that day and do something truly for herself. She found herself at Laurie’s having a conversation with Kristi Larkin, the owner at the time and a good friend. Prior to this conversation, late last summer, Lynn and her husband had gotten mail informing them of the closing of the store. Quickly, one thing led to another, and by September 15, 2022, Lynn said a bittersweet goodbye to her position at Keller Williams and reopened Laurie’s store doors.
The time frame between Lynn purchasing the boutique, closing for the transition and reopening again was only 15 days—an extremely fast changeover—but (after knocking on wood), Lynn had nothing but encouraging and hopeful things to say about her last few months of taking on this project.
Some of Laurie’s most popular brands that they carry include Joseph Ribkoff, Elliot Lauren and Brighton Jewelry. They also sell Minneapolis-based artist Helen Wang Jewelry. Her pieces, which are beautifully and uniquely crafted, are quite popular among Laurie’s variety of accessories. Head in to see them sparkle for yourself!
She worked closely with the previous owner to prep the store’s inventory for reopening. Being a tight-knit group, most of the staff stayed through Lynn’s transition to continue working at the store as well. She has only had to bring on one other employee, as well as her daughter to run the store’s social media.
“The staff has just made it so seamless for me. The first few months, they were introducing me to everybody who would come in and it’s been really awesome. I came into it in September when things were great, we were busy and people were excited. Everybody loves fall and winter here—they love their sweaters and jackets,” Lynn said. “I think [the challenge is] the unknown… did I order enough? Did I order too little? Do I have enough variety? Did I pick the right colors? Going to the market is probably my biggest stressor, but I had a great friend that accompanied Kristi when she’d go and that friend came with me to my first Dallas market.”
There has been a surplus of support, encouragement and guidance that Lynn has received in her new position, but there are decisions that as a business owner, especially of a boutique, she just has to take a risk on.
Markets are the events where boutique owners order their inventory at, and they can be huge. Owners set up appointments with the many vendors attending, and have to choose what clothing and items they want in the store for the following season. There are a lot of things to consider when buying items:
- Do I like it, and will my customers like it as well?
- How many different colors do I need?
- How will it work with the rest of the inventory in the store?
- Does it fit the region that we live in?
- How many different sizes do I offer, without risking two customers showing up wearing the same thing?
There are a ton of questions Lynn had to ask herself at the market, and while she did utilize that generous help, she had to trust her own eye as well.
While it’s not always possible due to low stock, Lynn said if the store runs out of your size in a product you love, she will sometimes go online to check if the vendor can send her another. It’s really about the relationships between Laurie’s staff and the community that matters, so she will try to cater to it! She said she even sent some items out of state to customers who live there now!
One of the most exciting aspects of boutiques is that the items are unique. Unless someone bought a different size than you from the same store, you will most likely never see the item again. Vendors at the market create quality specialty items with their own unique flair, so they don’t create many of the same items, and sometimes there are no two items alike at all! After ordering, the market vendors will mark where the boutiques are located so they don’t sell products to stores that are close to each other.
This uniqueness is what Lynn enjoys so much about curating her store now and what has helped her vision of keeping the store filled with the same brands and styles that her loyal customers know while also trying to branch out to a wider audience.
“My neighborhood is made up of 30 to 40-somethings and I don’t know why, but so many people associate this store with either super dressy or older clothing. [I want to] change that narrative so I have something for everyone. Kristi has always had great denim, so [I want to have] a bigger presence with the denim or some of that a bit younger clothing but not getting it mixed up with some of the other younger clothing in town,” Lynn said.
To keep true to what they have stocked in store while branching out to reach more peoples’ styles, Lynn has worked closely with her reps to communicate what has been doing well in the test markets, to then plan ahead to try to get that product in the store.
Laurie’s has built a very loyal customer base, to the point where staff has become close with the store’s visitors when they come in—and sometimes they don’t even come to shop, but to have a cup of coffee and catch up. Laurie’s has dressed the community for some of the most important events in people’s lives. Whether for a wedding, graduation, funeral, awards ceremony or whatever else they might need, when you come in to shop, the staff wants to get to know you so that they best dress you and make you feel good in what you’re wearing.
Whether it be in her personal development or in her newest adventure of operating Laurie’s, Lynn says she often refers to the quote by Maya Angelou: “People will forget what you said. People will forget what you did. But people will never forget how you made them feel.”
“I think that completely sums up me and how I want people to feel. Because it’s not about the purchase, it’s not about taking a bag out of here. It’s how you felt leaving because that’s what people will remember,” she said.
Visit Lynn and the rest of the staff at Laurie’s for a personal-style experience or just a nice chat at 3265 45th St S, Fargo.