If you know Michelle Stokes you know that this small town girl’s dreams and ambitions are as big as the ocean she grew up by. Michelle is passionate about helping others be their best, whether that is what you wear or where you live and she is always willing to share best practices to help you grow your business.
Spotlight on Business Magazine sits down, which is not easy, with this on the go, energetic entrepreneur and owner of Bombshell Boutique Inc, better known to her customers as Bombshell by Michelle, to learn more about the woman behind this amazing brand and where her drive comes from.
Spotlight: Tell us a little about yourself, your hobbies, when you are not planning strategy, selling homes, running a business, or looking after the kids?
MS: I like to say, “From an island off the Island.” I am a small-town girl who grew up in the town of Fogo which is surrounded by the ocean. Those of you who do not know where Fogo is, which I will assume will be most readers, it is an outport community on Fogo Island in the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador.
As a kid, I did most of the things kids “around the bay” would do. We played and hung out outside. Fogo is one of those communities where all the kids played on the streets and ran home when the streetlights came on.
As for later in life, well I’m a shopper, walker, reader and writer. I love dinner and coffee dates. Running the kids to and from activities. Every spare moment we try to spend outside. We love vacations, but since the pandemic we’ve become staycation-ers. Enjoying day trips, finding new restaurants and places to get ice cream along with a few nights away from the house at local Airbnbs.
Now let’s learn more about Michelle Stokes the entrepreneur, and what got you interested in Real Estate?
MS: Surprisingly, neither of my parents were business people. When I was in junior high my dad decided to go back to school. He was 35 years old and had been a fisherman for his entire life (since he was old enough to gut a cod fish). My father decided to pack up and move to St. John’s to work toward his captain’s ticket. I’ve never really looked at my dad as an inspiration but reflecting now and looking back, that probably had a huge impact on how I look at life and likely played a role in me wanting and taking the leap to do more and never really hesitating.
I would not say that I started out to be an entrepreneur. When I graduated high school, I went on to get my bachelor’s degree in Nursing and worked as a nurse for ten years (minus two maternity leaves). As a nurse I worked primarily in Cardiology and CV surgery with a short stent in ER and critical care.
Nursing was my career however, I’ve always loved home improvements, renos and Interior design. So, after purchasing a few homes with my husband and seeing how well he was doing with building his real estate team and business, when the opportunity came for me to join him, I ran with it.
What made you want to become an entrepreneur and start your own online clothing business and transition that to a brick and mortar retail location. How and why did you select this clothing industry rather than something else related to real estate?
MS: In 2015 I started thinking about the idea of owning my own clothing boutique shortly after moving back home to Newfoundland (we lived in Alberta for 3 years). At the time, my husband was in oil and gas. There was no real estate at that point (that came the following year after leaving his oil and gas job and starting in real estate, but that’s another great story lol).
Bombshell Boutique (sometimes better known as Bombshell by Michelle) started later that year. The business was strictly online until this past November. The main reason I started the boutique, honestly was because I felt there was a lack of great customer service here locally in the ladies’ retail industry. As a young, very confident woman, when I would walk into any of the local boutiques, I felt unwelcomed, like I didn’t meet the standards of what it took to shop there. So here we are. I started it to have a great wardrobe but more of a safe place for the “average woman to shop and look and feel beautiful.” Online was less than ideal. I was storing inventory at my home, doing local pick-ups and deliveries etc. Let’s just say, that behind the scenes it was a mess most days. The transition occurred a couple months into COVID-19 outbreak. My online sales were pretty good during COVID-19, but with the major shipping delays and my new, full time role in real estate I realized in order to keep things going we needed to make a change. That change happened to be opening a location and going all in, hiring a team to help me.
Did you have a mentor? If so, who was it and what was the most important lesson they taught you?
MS: I would say that I did not have an official mentor. In saying that, I’ve reached out and had coffee dates with many local business women to get advice. Recently, I have hired a coach, which is still in the beginning phases so I’m hoping that will only evaluate our overall vision and mission.
What was the inspiration behind Bombshell by Michelle brand?
MS: My inspiration has always been about more than just great clothes. We’ve always tried to offer high quality items at a reasonable price point. It has never been about high-end expensive brands. I felt the existing local boutiques really catered to the “rich women” never for the everyday regular women. So, it started from there. Our vision is to offer the best and most inclusive shopping experience, to have an intimate boutique experience while still being able to cater to the regular everyday women, who are all rich in my eyes.
Can you tell us about a particular project that you have worked on or are going to be working on that stands out to you?
MS: Volunteer and charity work are the projects that stand out for me and both play a major role in our office’s culture. This year we have done several food drives for our local boys & girls club. We have been part of the Winter Coat Drive and Back to School Backpack Drive.
On a personal home-based level we try to include our kids in the small giving back gestures. We have an annual Christmas tradition where we do up gift packs (toiletries, everyday necessities) for one of the local homeless shelters and have sponsored families in need.
In 2021 we are working out ideas for pop up events at the boutique. We are still working out details, (admission would be nonperishable food item and a percentage of sales go toward one of the local charities), but we will keep everyone posted.
What is your greatest strength and what is something that you struggle with as an entrepreneur and or business woman?
MS: I think my biggest strength is that I’m a talker and socializer. I like putting myself out there and believe in being totally honest and real when communicating with other women.
Time blocking and setting boundaries. Whether it is setting a schedule and honoring my time, to saying no and making clients aware of my set working hours. When I over commit there are not enough hours in the day so I often say yes to things that can take time away from other priorities. It’s something I’m really trying to work on (building our team will eventually help with this.)
What motivates you as an entrepreneur and small business owner?
MS: The ability to help others, to provide a service that people value and that even the smallest thank you gestures keep me going. I also understand and realize that I need to focus on the bigger picture, that there’s are always opportunities out there you just need to keep looking for them.
Where do you see yourself 5 years from today?
MS: I see myself as mentor with a portfolio of other local businesses that I have been able to help start and grow allowing other entrepreneurs to follow their own vision and dreams.
I also see myself working on my businesses not in my business. In 5 years, I want both our Real estate business and the boutique to be 100% self-sufficient in all the day-to-day tasks.
One day our vision is to have the best mega team we have built run everything without us so that we can spend a month in one of our vacation properties, totally unplugged.
by Lee Ann Atwater