New venture

Kelly Franz, left, holds Miller next to her business partner, Katrina Heibel, holding Jett. The women who have owned Eleven 71 since 2016 will next week open a new store, Miller + Jett, which features clothing and products for babies, children and women.

The COVID-19 pandemic has created challenges for businesses worldwide, but two Borderland entrepreneurs seized a window of opportunity and are opening a new store next week.

Kelly Franz and Katrina Heibel, who have owned Eleven 71 since 2016, will on Tuesday open Miller + Jett, a store named after their sons and inspired by evolving needs as mothers. The 231 Fourth Ave. spot will carry clothing and products for babies, children and women.

“We have driven by that space so many times and wondered what we could do there,” Heibel said of the store's location, just around the corner from Eleven 71. “And we've always wanted to expand.”

Now, the business partners and best friends are taking a leap of faith to grow their business into a broader audience – all before they turn 30 years old. 

"Some might call us crazy, we question ourselves sometimes too, especially opening a second store during a pandemic, but we believe life is about taking risks," the women said in a Facebook post to announce their new venture. "July might be our busiest month yet."

Expansion inspiration

The idea of what to include in a second location has evolved over the past year as both women became first-time mothers just five weeks apart. Jett Heibel was born in August 2019 and Miller Franz made his debut in September 2019. As the needs and focus of the women changed, it paved way for the new store.

“We quickly realized 'mama fashion' is a whole new ballpark and it's hard to find trendy, comfortable and practical items,” they said. “Many new pieces will be bump and nursing friendly, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t something for all women.”

Miller + Jett will not only carry clothing, it'll also offer a variety of products for babies, pregnancy and postpartum that aren't available anywhere else in the area.

“We did a lot of panic ordering of things we needed off Amazon at 3 a.m., and we know others do that, too,” Franz said. “Now they can come here and get some of those products.”

Right time

Heibel said when the owners of On The Rocks purchased the business that was formerly The Viking Bar and Lounge in June, the women knew timing was right for their new opportunity.

“We felt good about the opportunity and decided to do it,” she said. "When (On The Rocks) added outdoor seating, it made the spot for the new store more visible... good things are happening downtown."

Franz agreed.

“We want the best for our community,” she said. “We grew up in this area. We want to only enhance the good things going on in this community. We want to bring even more energy to the downtown area.”

Franz and Heibel got the keys to the new location July 1, and have since spent many hours painting, organizing and preparing for their 10 a.m. July 28 opening.

“We're excited,” Heibel said. “Our inventory will continue to grow and we have a lot of plans for both Miller + Jett and Eleven 71... We want to carry things that people want and need."

For more information or to order online, visit www.eleven71shop.com.

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