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Q + A: Birch & Bay

Entrepreneurs come in all shapes and sizes, and every business plays a critical role in keeping Montana’s towns vibrant. The Treasure State consistently ranks among the top five in reports from the Kauffman Foundation in rates of business ownership and business sustainability.

In our Q and A series, we’ll introduce you to some of Montana’s brightest and best entrepreneurs from all corners of the state. These businesses are involved in a variety of industries including hospitality, retail, and food.

Join us we meet M’Liss Bordelon in Billings!

Birch & Bay

1. What is the name of your business?

Birch & Bay

2. Are you a native of Montana? If you are, where is your hometown and why do you love it? If not, why did you decide to make Montana home?

I am not a native Montanan. I decided to move to Montana because of the breathtaking views and easy accessibility to many outdoor recreation opportunities.

3. How long has your business been in operation? What does your business do?

I have been in business since 2015. Birch & Bay creates handmade, small-batch bath and body products inspired by nature.

4. What has surprised you about owning your own business?

I had no idea I had such drive to really invest my time and effort into something. But it turns out when it’s all yours, your baby that you hatched from birth, it feels so much different. You have so much more emotional investment than just a paycheck.

5. Why should an entrepreneur start a business in Montana?

Montana is a special place to start a business because there are so many folks that want to buy locally made. There are also so many programs that encourage small business growth and development. The Made in Montana Program propels small businesses into a recognized brand. There are also many Montana Women in Business groups that develop and encourage women entrepreneurs. The support system here is unlike any I’ve ever seen.

6. Why did you decide to start your business?

I decided to start my business because I am a scientist and artist. Soap making to me is the perfect canvas because I can be creative and express myself but the product is consumable. When I paint, I have to look at that painting for years. But with soap, it’s so fluid and I can express myself how I see fit one month and completely change it the next. All while taking proper care of my skin and knowing I’m putting quality ingredients on it.

7. What are three pieces of advice you would give someone about starting a company in Montana?

1. Do what you feel passionately about and you’ll always be engaged.
2. Know your craft top to bottom, back to front, inside and outside. Be able to sit somebody down with no knowledge and have them walk away fully informed. That is what makes you a master of your business.
3. Never apologize that you may have to charge a higher dollar amount for your goods but be prepared to give every reason why that extra dollar is worth it. Handmade and locally made are worth the investment in your community.

8. Is there anything else you would like to add?

I’ve been blown away by the local support by organizations promoting small business in Montana. I am so excited that my business has grown so much just in the couple years we have been here, and I know that is because there is such a strong business networking community here. I am so excited to where the business will be in a few years with this strong support system behind me.


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