When it comes to small business, Nancy Haugen and Carol Stabenow like to keep it all in the family.
The sisters recently opened separate shops in downtown Stillwater. Stabenow owns Sash and Haugen owns Forget Me Not.
“You can thank Carol for the idea,” Haugen said. “We were visiting our parents last year and she asked me when I was the most happiest in my life and I told her it was back when I was running a flower shop. I never went to work. I went to the shop and I loved every second of it.”
Though Stabenow generated the idea of opening a business for her sister, she took awhile to catch up.
“She’s been my encourager,” Stabenow said. “She’s fast and I’m slow like a turtle. She’s pushing me to do this which has been great because I haven’t been left dawdling.”
Stabenow said the new adventure with her clothes shop has been the best time of her life so far. She opened her shop in March after retiring as a reading teacher. The shop features clothes for women over 30.
“There seemed to be a market for this type of shop and I needed a creative focus,” Stabenow said. “It was kind of shocking at first because I didn’t know anything about retail.”
She continues to learn how retail works and about buying and marketing, but if her enthusiastic tour of her shop’s items is any indication, her real passion is finding new merchandise.
“It’s just like Christmas,” Stabenow said as a UPS man brought in a box. “(When you find merchandise) there’s always a lot to choose from. There’s a lot of focus on getting things that are contemporary, relaxed and comfortable.”
Stabenow is the first to tell you that Haugen is her teacher in all of this. The fact that Stabenow works across the street from her sister and just behind Revé, owned by her boys, adds to the fun.
“It’s fun because we’ll set up Revé in the morning. Nancy will buzz over here to help me get things organized and then I’ll buzz over across the street to help her with her flowers,” Stabenow said.
“We help each other out,” Haugen said. “She’s been my cheerleader throughout the whole process. Some days are not so good as others so we help each other every day.”
Haugen’s store, Forget Me Not, is a flower and interior design shop.
“It’s a fun store to visit and see everything that’s new,” Haugen said. “We offer something different every time you walk in to our store. Different places have different things that people like. I love color and good quality things.”
She’ll be the first to tell you that it’s the best job in the world.
“When it comes to inspiration and what keeps me going I don’t have to search for it. It’s right in front of me.” Haugen said. “I get to play with flowers and help decorate people’s homes. I help them find their style and I make something beautiful every day.”
Haugen gains her inspiration from colors and large items with a contemporary feel.
“I love large things that make a difference in a room. You can add a large thing in the corner of a room and it adds a dimension to the room that wasn’t there before. It gives it character,” Haugen said.
Both sisters agree that the best part of their new chapter is that every day is an adventure and they always look forward to what the day will bring.