1 Million Cups held their first in-person meeting at Meg-A-Latte, with featured guests Lilac Lane owner Bre Staahl and Greg Cottrell of Loan Depot.
The program is organized by Williston Economic Development and the Chamber of Commerce, and has been meeting virtually for nearly a year due to the pandemic. Wednesday’s first in-person meeting brought together many community members to hear Staahl and Cottrell’s presentations.
“The Chamber in collaboration with Williston Economic Development is pleased to be able to provide this program in person again,” Chamber Member Services Coordinator Rochelle Villa told the Williston Herald. “1 Million Cups creates a forum for new and established entrepreneurs to share their stories, experiences, challenges and successes with our community. It’s a space where they are acknowledged and supported; something that is definitely needed as they rebound after a trying 2020.”
Staahl owns Lilac Lane, a children’s clothing boutique in Williston. She began the business in November 2018, moving from small pop-up shops to a brick-and-mortar business inside Service Drug in Downtown Williston. Staahl said she began her business when she had difficulty finding specific clothing and accessories for her children. She began by participating in vendor shows, but found that the pop-up shops were more successful. Staahl found success in opening a physical location, but like many businesses, she too felt the squeeze as COVID-19 hit the area.
“With COVID, the shutdown was really hard, especially since the main thing that we do is provide outfits for photos for special events, and special events weren’t happening,” Staahl explained. “It was really hard, but we did survive it.”
Staahl said an online program called Retail Mavens helped Lilac Lane to move some inventory, providing much needed revenue moving into 2021. Lilac Lane now carries more than 50 brands and has six employees, a long way since the store’s beginnings, where they only carried two brands and Staahl worked mostly on her own.
“Looking back, that did make me tear up a bit, just to think about how far we’ve come.” Staahl said.
Greg “Skippy” Cottrell is a consultant with Loan Depot, sharing information on various home lending options individuals can take advantage of. Loan Depot is the top lender for renovation loans, Cottrell explained, with many people utilizing the company to help renovate their homes, which not only improves their homes, but adds re-sale value for the future. Loan Depot is also an official sponsor of Major League Baseball, Cottrell added.
Cottrell is a licensed lender for North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana and Minnesota, and has been involved in the community through various endeavors, including the annual Save the Fourth of July celebration in Williston.