The businesses of Wellington are important to our economy, culture and overall community. They provide a variety in products and services and, in addition to running their businesses, their owners are often volunteer baseball coaches or nonprofit board members.
Kelly DeVries is the owner of Thistle, Wellington’s favorite and quirkiest gift shop. Kelly and I connected early on over my funny cards, graphic design, and Montana State University (go Bobcats!). We’ve remained friends and supporters, and even volunteer together now. Here’s a little more about Kelly:
Tell me a little about yourself.
I grew up in Buffalo, Wyoming, and got my Bachelor of Fine Arts degree with an emphasis in Graphic Design from Montana State University. After a short stint working in Chicago for a big design firm, I returned to the West and worked for smaller design firms. I gave birth to two sweet baby boys and stayed home to raise them because the cost of childcare was more than I made as a designer. While home, I started a soap company and began supplying boutiques around the country (and the world) with handmade soap. In 2017, I had the opportunity to open Thistle and it has become the culmination of my passions for design, art and crafting.
How long have you lived and worked in Wellington?
We moved to Wellington in 2014 after living on the Western Slope for 11 years. I’ve lived in Wellington for 6 years and started Thistle a little over 3 years ago.
What’s your professional background and what inspired you to open Thistle in Wellington?
Graphic design and art are my foundation but I’ve always been a bit of a risk-taker. Wellington is such a special community filled with creative types and I wanted to start something unique that could also support the local artists. So when the opportunity presented itself to take over the space Thistle is in now, I jumped at the chance at the shock of my family. I knew if I could just stick with it, the community would love it.
What’s in the name? Why Thistle?
I have a love for “thistle” for a couple of reasons: 1) My heritage is heavily Scottish, and thistle a symbol of Scotland. 2) I was a beekeeper on the Western Slope and my bees adored thistle. They gave us the most amazing honey from it, so it was also an homage to those hard working bees.
Originally, I was thinking of something kitschy like “Thistle Do Nicely” or some play on the word “Thistle.” I settled on simply “Thistle” after talking with my brother (who is the consummate minimalist) and it felt right.
What have been the biggest challenges to owning a business in Wellington? How can other business owners and community members help ease those challenges?
The biggest challenge, which I didn’t foresee, is getting locals to know we are here! Many people live in Wellington but work elsewhere, so they don’t tend to spend much time in town. However, I do feel like that’s starting to change. I’m hoping more businesses crop up downtown to help foster a vibrant shopping, dining and social community that people want to enjoy instead of running down to Fort Collins.
I think the biggest strength we have here is our business community and I adore the connection our businesses have to one another. Spreading the word about each other and working together to create events would and does help us all. Collaboration is king in a small town!
What has been the best part of owning a business in Wellington?
The people by far! I had no inkling of the degree of friendships and community support that would come out of starting a business here. I’ve been so blown away by the support and connections I’ve made here. Wellington has a special love for the locals and if you ask for help, they provide it in spades.
Who and/or what has had the biggest impact on your business adventure?
The Thistle customers and the artists who supply Thistle with their amazing work has given me personally a network of friends I never expected. In times I considered giving up, they encouraged me and lifted me up. I know I can lean on them when times get challenging and they will always do whatever they can to help. It’s such an incredible community that I don’t think exists just anywhere.
Final thoughts. Anything else you’d like to share?
I’m so thankful for all the opportunities Wellington and the business community has provided. If there’s any way I can encourage or collaborate with other businesses, please let me know!
You can shop Thistle in person or online at www.thistlewellington.com. Follow the shop on Facebook and Instagram for new arrivals, shop updates, and hilarious memes. Contactless shopping and gift cards are available.