Following the trends of small town boutiques across the rural landscape, Kelli Bjustrom, Mount Ayr, opened the doors to Backwoods Barbie Boutique "on the square' in Mount Ayr on October 6, 2015.
With a hint of rural flair in the business name, Bjustrom offers styles in clothing and accessories that are "country, girly and fun."
Coming from Des Moines, Bjustrom missed the availability of boutique shopping and started the legwork to bring her own boutique to bring her own boutique to Ringgold county. She researched start-up boutiques, identified vendors who could provide quality at an affordable price and looked for styles different from big box stores. Seeking a store front presence "on the square" in Mount Ayr, Bjustrom teamed up with two local salon stylists, Makenzie Still and Andrea Clayton. Still and Clayton, operating as Sweet Escapes Salon, were looking to buy their own building and expand.
Combining resources and ideas, the three became co-owners of an empty store located on the north side of the Mount Ayr square. Bjustrom, Still and Clayton refurbished the former clothing store into a combination salon/Backwoods Barbie/tanning facility and Backwoods Barbie Boutique and Moda 06 Salon became the first multi-service facility of its type in Mount Ayr.
As owner and operator of Backwoods Barbie Boutique, Bjustrom not only set goals to provide quality, affordable merchandise, but to meet the needs of a diverse customer base.
She stated she sells to all ages, from teenage to 50+, as well as a small selection of children's clothing. Bjustrom limits numbers of each item for quick turnover, a constant supply of new merchandise and in keeping with the "boutique" feel.
She bases buying decisions on quality in relation to pricing and her own fashion sense. She also provides [Page 9] items for not only all sizes, but clothing and accessories styles that are complimentary styles for everyone.
Wife and mom to a nine-month-old, Bjustrom manages the business, including online sales, on her own with occasional part time help. She is also conscious of supporting other local businesses and carries specialty items made from Podium Ink, another local startup business owed by Brad Elliott and Burt Murphy. It's not all about making the profit for Bjustrom.
Although she likes owning her own business and appreciates the support she has received in the past two years, Bjustrom says, "The main reason I love what I do is the opportunity to help women feel good about themselves. If I can help them choose an outfit they love and feel good in, for an affordable price, I feel good, too."
Photograph courtesy of Mount Ayr Record-News
Transcription by Sharon R. Becker, July of 2017