12 Tribes Boutique opens storefront in Helena | Business
It was a bit of a leap of faith when Bobbi Mickelson quit her insurance career to start selling clothes out of a spare bedroom in her house.
Almost six months later, Mickelson, 32, has moved from the spare bedroom to a building on Front Street in Helena because her women’s clothing store 12 Tribes Boutique officially has a storefront. The name is both a biblical reference but also a reference to Mickelson and 11 of his friends who have bonded during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“When COVID hit, it was a bit difficult to find a good work/life balance,” Mickelson said. “I wanted to find a way to interact more with the women in my community.”
Mickelson, originally from Missoula but moved to Helena with his parents 15 years ago as a teenager, had worked in workers’ compensation insurance for nearly 10 years. Her work was very stable, but as COVID escalated she began to reassess what was important to her. Spending time with her family and being more involved in Helena’s community were two big things she wanted.
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Mickelson decided in mid-2021 to open 12 tribes online. She started going to big markets like Las Vegas where she met sellers and distributors who could supply her with items suitable for the brand she cultivates.
She really has two goals with the company: the first is to be the kind of place any woman can walk into and find something affordable. The second is to be a place where women can enter and have a good shopping experience.
“I think Helena might have more options,” Mickelson said. “I really want to have a space where women can come in and shop and have a good experience. Also, I really like the clothes.”
Over the past six months, her online store has become more popular and customers have started asking her if she would open a storefront so they can come and shop in person. She felt the demand was there.
On December 17, Mickelson officially opened its storefront across from Gulch Distillers on Front Street. She loved the space when she saw it.
“We opened, then the holidays came, so we spent quite a bit of time closing,” she said. “But the business is growing, every week is a little better.”
Mickelson has taken the initiative and joined the Downtown Helena Association and wants to partner with other Front Street businesses to possibly host a block party in the spring.
“I feel like Helena has such a great, supportive community,” Mickelson said. “Not only buyers, but also other small businesses, they are very encouraging.”
Mickelson’s plan for the store is to have constantly rotating inventory. She hopes to soon expand into more accessories, shoes and handbags. She plans to attend a market in Dallas in March to prep her spring and summer product lines.
“Opening this store really reminds me how important community and connection is to all of us,” Mickelson said.
The 12 Tribes boutique is located at 795 Front Street and can be found on social media platforms and at 12tribesboutique.com.