The Shinnston News and Harrison County Journal, in conjunction with North Central West Virginia Airport, has named B3 boutique January Business of the Month.
By Erin Beck
At B3 boutique, Shannon Kellar notices that sometimes first-time customers are shy and unsure.
“By the time they have shopped with us for a month or two; they are completely different: more confident and much more open, and friendly,” she said. “I love hearing from them about how total strangers are complimenting them when they are out. A lot of this is from a change within.”
B3 boutique (B3, for Kellar’s three boys) is located at 114 S Pike Street in Shinnston and also has an online shop. Kellar said they sell “stylish, affordable clothes to ladies in sizes S-3X.”
She said she loves to help women find clothes they can wear with confidence. “If you feel good in your clothes, you project a more positive vibe, which can lead to you actually feeling better about yourself,” she said.
The boutique also buys clothes in small batches.
“In a small town, this means that you are unlikely to see someone else wearing the same thing as you,” Kellar said. “Unless it’s leopard at a Cougar game.”
Kellar wanted to be a stay-at-home mom all her life, but she wasn’t prepared for some parts: “loneliness because you don’t see other adults every day, exhaustion because you don’t ever have a change of pace, depression….and really kind of losing yourself,” she said.
She became a stay-at-home mom in 2004, with her son Nick. By the time her third son Cam came along, she knew she needed to find a way to get out of the house, while also spending much of her time with her kids.
First, she sold jewelry at Origami Owl parties in the evenings. She stayed home with her kids during the day, while her husband watched them while she hosted the events. She realized she loved meeting and getting to know new people. But after a while, knock-off companies sprung up and people lost interest.
Her next network marketing venture was with LuLaRoe. Fewer than 5,000 consultants were on board when she started.
“Clothes are a real passion of mine,” she said. “I have learned that clothes can really create your mood. They are also a fabulous way to introduce yourself to the world, without ever saying a word.”
Now, Kellar refers to LuLaRoe as “a gate for me.” While the experience put her on the path to opening her own boutique, she said she closed that shop after the company took “a change for the worse.”
“However, I missed the people, I missed the interaction, I missed the clothes!” she said. “So, for the next year or so I did a lot of market research (or shopping if you ask my husband) by shopping at a lot of other boutiques.”
She learned about brands, including fit and quality. She says she also focused on learning about customer needs.
“I learned more about how to run a Facebook live sale, and what information I found helpful to know, as a customer,” she said. “I focused a LOT on sizing. When buying clothes without trying them on, it’s hard to trust the sizing. In some brands I am a small, in others I am a 3X, so really focusing on sizing is important for me.”
B3 boutique opened in winter of 2020. They celebrated two years in business on Monday.
“We started with mostly pre-orders as I was running it out of my dining room, while I was on the hunt for a retail space,” Kellar said. “By March we were ready to open our doors, but COVID hit, and the lockdown delayed our opening.”
She aims to help her customers feel confident.
“Mainly we want ladies to feel good when they come in to try stuff on, and not feel anxious or self-conscious,” she said. “One thing I have learned is that nobody is ever comfortable in their bodies, if they are a size 1 or size 20, we all have insecurities. I like to try and find a way to help ladies overcome those insecurities. Sometimes it’s as simple as a front tuck, or a knot. Sometimes it’s a little harder.”
They’ve had to learn to adapt to their customers’ needs over time.
“Opening in a Covid year has also been a problem because our first year in business, people weren’t going anywhere,” she said. “We had to find a way to provide items they needed or wanted that could be worn in a work from home setting but could also transcend to the office.”
Along with Kellar, Leslie Cain is a stylist at the boutique. They spend many hours searching for the right styles.
“We are small, so we can’t order every single item we like, so it really takes a lot of time to sift through it,” Kellar said. “We also like to get opinions from our models, because they are also some of our best customers.”
B3 boutique models include: Shannon Kellar, Leslie Cain, Rachel Mead, Ann Martin, Mandy Bowen, Whitney Boggess, Jessica Eades, Holly Singleton, Kerrie Sowers and Angel Viglianco.
Kellar would like to open another store someday.
“What does our future look like?!” she said. “Heck, I don’t know. I mean, I have learned that to achieve it, you must first believe it, so I would say that we hope to maybe open another brick-and-mortar store someday. Maybe in the south, somewhere warm I can escape to in the winter months.”
They are also working to grow their online business.
“We will be focusing on styles that can either be a staple item, or an absolute statement piece,” she said. “The middle of the road we will leave alone.”
B3 boutique’s brick-and-mortar store is open: Thursday 3 p.m.-6 p.m., Friday 11 a.m.-5 p.m., and Saturday from 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
The boutique also has a Facebook page and Facebook group. They host live sales on Sunday and Thursday nights at 7 p.m. and Tuesdays at noon. Customers can also visit shopb3styles.commentsold.com or by downloading their free app, B3 Styles.