From a mall kiosk to a full store, Lela’s Boutique & Valley Treasures shows that small businesses with big goals stand a chance in Harrisonburg.

Located between Target and the Valley Mall, Lela’s Boutique & Valley Treasures is a clothing store that caters to college to middle-age women. The store’s clothing and accessories are trendy with a touch of bohemian flair. From cold-shoulder tops to dreamy velvet rompers, the store has it all.

“I find different and unique styles that you’re not going to find at your department stores,” Shelly Biller, owner of the boutique, said.

As a business manager for more than 10 years, Biller felt as though she could start her own small business. After hearing about an open shop space while getting her nails done in McGaheysville, Virginia, her love for fashion encouraged her to create Lela’s Boutique & Valley Treasures.

“It was on a whim because if you don’t try something, you’ll never know,” Biller said in reference to starting the boutique.  

Biller has been handpicking every item for the store since the shop got its start in McGaheysville in 2013. She shops at a variety of markets in Texas, Florida and Georgia to find items she thinks her clients would like to purchase. 

In 2016, Biller decided to create a second location at a kiosk inside the Valley Mall and it was an instant success. With so much buzz from the kiosk, Lela’s Boutique & Valley Treasures officially opened its doors to Harrisonburg in November 2017.

“It’s a never-ending job,” Biller said. “We work all hours of the night because we’re constantly moving merchandise. We’re constantly making new outfits up, taking pictures and posting on social media.”

A new location meant changes needed to be made. When they started, their main target was middle-aged women. In Harrisonburg, Lela’s has started to cater to a different demographic in the community: JMU women.

“We’re seeing more of an influx of the college students coming in and realizing that we’re here,” Celia Brown, a boutique employee, said. “It makes us feel really good that because of our hard work and effort, people are noticing us.”

Biller explains that one of the most fulfilling things about owning her own boutique is seeing people smile whenever someone tries on an outfit they love.

“When they’re happy about that, it makes us feel good,” Biller said. “And when they leave the door happy, then we’re happy.”

At Lela’s, one could find a silky dress for date night, new earrings for a concert or even some new makeup that fits all budgets. Although there’s a plethora of hand-chosen clothing pieces, there are other items to explore as well. Giftable items that Biller finds, such as koozies made from recycled military tarps, or aromatherapy shower bursts are also sold.

“[Lela’s] is completely different than just any other department store,” Lindsey Rise, a model for the boutique, said. “ She makes sure to find stuff to enhance other women’s beauty and it just warms my heart to be a part of it.”

Contact Leeyah Jackson at jacksold@dukes.jmu.edu. For more on the culture, arts and lifestyle of the JMU and Harrisonburg communities, follow the culture desk on Twitter @Breeze_Culture.