Mother and daughter Barbara Berndt and Hannah Madsen (soon to be a mother herself in August) own and run the Secret Well boutique in Elizabeth. While both are sociable and love fashion, each brings …
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Mother and daughter Barbara Berndt and Hannah Madsen (soon to be a mother herself in August) own and run the Secret Well boutique in Elizabeth. While both are sociable and love fashion, each brings distinct talents to the enterprise. Mother and daughter work well in tandem, with Hannah helping people express their personality through clothing and Barbara, a self-proclaimed communicator (read that gregarious), naturally building relationships with each visitor.
Now, the word “boutique” suggests fashionable, sophisticated and pricey items — but that final adjective isn’t the case at the Secret Well boutique. Although the clothing is sophisticated, merchandise is kept affordable, and therein lies the challenge for Barbara and Hannah. They never reorder and are always looking for that one-of-a-kind article. Admittedly, they stock only one of each size (XS to XL) to preserve exclusivity, but continually hunt for high-quality pieces reasonably priced.
Stocking quality, reasonably priced clothing proved a winning strategy and this dynamic duo marked their first-year anniversary on May 22, the date of the boutique’s grand opening in Castle Rock. Relocation to Elizabeth occurred in December last year when they were beguiled by Elizabeth’s small-town charm.
Hannah and Barbara discuss the Secret Well and more in a conversation with the Elbert County News.
Why is it called the Secret Well boutique?
We wanted a name to reflect who we are and what we believe. Our faith is important and one of our favorite Bible stories was Jesus meeting the women at the well because that was one of the first times Jesus really interacted with women. Though the well is special to our faith, we wanted a name that would not be exclusive to another’s beliefs. A little brainstorming and “Secret” completed the name.
What was the catalyst for this journey?
Hannah was a hairdresser in Castle Rock and had the opportunity to dabble in retail clothing. We put up a couple of racks and things sold well. Customers wanted her to open a boutique and so we found a permanent home. We chose Elizabeth because it was between our homes in Kiowa and Castle Rock and besides, we loved the Elizabeth community.
Who is the fashionista here who advises customers?
We are both very interested in fashion but have very different fashion tastes and bounce ideas off of each other. Hannah loves to help people find clothing that expresses who they are. She feels what you wear should reflect your taste whether it be leather or bling. She likes to assess a customer’s lifestyles and whether the purchase will be worn on a horse or to dinner.
How did you come to live in Colorado?
We are a military family and the family patriarch, Scott Berndt, is retired Army. We traveled quite a bit, were eventually stationed at Buckley Air Force Base and fell in love with Colorado. Our military background is reflected in the number of Western, patriotic offerings.
Are you on social media?
We have an active Facebook page with pictures of our merchandise and Hanna does a “Wednesday Favorites” video on Facebook each week highlighting current additions.
What types of items do you carry in your store?
We carry unique clothing for all sizes. Milkbarn is an exclusive line of baby clothes and the onesies, hats and even swaddles are decorated with traditional farm animals. We also offer seasonal gifts, and special gifts for every occasion. We really ramp up our home goods at Christmas but offer signs, lanterns and other decoration for the home year-round. Hannah often tailors our items to Elizabeth events such as the Stampede.
Where do you buy merchandise?
We search online for items, buy some at market and receive vendor recommendations. We are always looking for vendors we can trust that deliver quickly. We buy local in Denver and other parts of Colorado, if possible.
What is the “Love 146” sign at the register?
It is an international organization that works to stop human sex trafficking and the exploitation of women and children — rehabilitation of those rescued, and concentration on education to raise awareness to prevent manipulation of young girls and women. Hannah worked with a similar group during her mission in the Philippines and she and I became involved in Love 146 when she returned.
What are your hours?
Tuesday through Friday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
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