Pretty and Fabulous Named Small Business of the Year
19 Oct 2023
A love for retail and serving customers started for Jennifer Weber when she was 5 years old. That’s when she started “working” at her aunt’s kids’ clothing store.
Today, she is the owner of the successful Pretty & Fabulous Custom T-Shirts & Boutique in downtown Bertrand. The business is being inducted into the PCDC Business Hall of Fame as the 2022 Small Business of the Year at a special community celebration banquet on October 26.
“In selecting your company, PCDC board members noted your impact on Bertrand as you serve a regional customer base,” the award letter states. “It’s not often that a thriving business like yours is found in small, rural communities. Your vision and determination to succeed serve as an inspiration to others who aspire to start their own businesses.”
A Love of Retail
After graduating from Holdrege High School, Jennifer earned a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from UNK and thought she wanted to escape small-town life, live in a big city and pursue a law degree. Instead, her early love of retail and love of a small community pulled her back.
During college, she took a job at Maurices in Kearney and for four years she learned the ropes of the retail world. She already had a solid base from her early years working at Expectations in Holdrege, which was owned by her aunt, Linda Bialas.
“I started working in retail when I was 5 at my aunt’s store and fell in love with it,” Jennifer said. “I was always there helping people check out and helping my mom and my aunt.”
In 2012, after her first daughter was born, she started a part-time custom t-shirt business. She opened a Bertrand Christmas store for two months every year from 2013 until 2017 when she purchased a building at 619 Minor Avenue in downtown Bertrand and opened a permanent shop.
In the store, she sells custom-designed t-shirts and clothing, mugs and cups that can also be customized with lettering, candles, crafts, lotions, toys, earrings, dips and jams, and she has a section of plus-sized clothing.
Her goal is to always provide great customer service and make everyone feel welcome at her store.
“I now have an amazing designer who does most of my designing, but it’s still so fun when we see a customer’s face and how amazed they are with our work,” she said.
She currently has four part-time or remote employees. Finding employees has been one of her biggest challenges.
“I have wonderful employees now that God has provided when I am least expecting them,” Jennifer said.
Offering flexible or remote schedules has helped.
“This has fit the business well because they are very flexible and willing to work when I am busy,” said Jennifer, a busy mom of four daughters. “They have busy lives as well, so when they are busy and I am not, they can take their time to be with families or farms and other things they are involved in.”
Besides operating a store, Jennifer is highly involved in making Bertrand a better place to live and visit. She serves on the Bertrand Brews & BBQ committee, which plans a summer BBQ and music event; the Bertrand Ag Society, which organizes events such as the Bertrand Craft Show and Christmas Tree Walk; and helped on the Bertrand Aquatic Center committee, which organizes a New Year’s Gala. She also serves on the Phelps County Visitors Committee.
“I love helping the community and doing things that make the community better for everyone,” Jennifer said.
She also helps those beyond her small community.
When wildfires raged through southwest Nebraska in 2021, Jennifer and her team designed and sold a Prairie Strong t-shirt to be sold as a fund-raiser for fire departments that helped fight the fire. She was able to donate $40,000 to help small-town fire departments.
Jennifer said she was “excited and stunned” when she found out about the PCDC Business Hall of Fame Award.
“I felt very humbled that people notice me and are enjoying doing business with me,” she said. “It makes me want to continue to grow my business and work with my amazing customers.”
Looking to the Future
Jennifer said she hopes to continue to grow her business in the next five years. In late October, she is partnering with two other female business owners (Divine Boutique and KC Ventures) to open the Blessed Trio store at 4th and Burlington in Holdrege. It will feature some of Jennifer’s custom clothing, signs and cups.
She would also like to add more employees, including full-time staff, and add new machines to make production quicker and more efficient. She received a PCDC Digital Marketing Grant that helped her join the Holdrege Area Chamber of Commerce and GROW Nebraska and launch an online shopping option during the pandemic.
“I know how much things have changed in the last five years, and I can’t wait to see what the next five will bring,” Jennifer said. “I am very blessed with an encouraging husband and family and a wonderful community that supports me and that I can continue to support as well.”
Pretty & Fabulous will be honored at PCDC’s Business Hall of Fame banquet on Thursday, October 26, at the Holdrege Sun Theater & Event Venue. The event begins at 6:30 pm. The keynote speaker will be Governor Jim Pillen. Advance tickets are available for $30 per person by calling PCDC at (308) 995-4148 or emailing Stacy@PhelpsCountyNE.com.