20 under 40: Molly Martin, Branches
At 23, Molly Martin just might be the youngest business owner in downtown Steamboat Springs. She purchased Branches, An Inspired Collection, at 624 Lincoln Ave., last November from her mother Deborah Martin, and in less than a year, she says she’s turned the business around.
“Branches was my mom’s store but she hasn’t lived here for four years, and it’s hard to run a business when you aren’t here,” Martin says. “She decided she was going to sell the store right around the time I was graduating from college.”
Things proceeded quickly from there. Martin graduated from the University of Wyoming last May with an agricultural business degree, she got married in August and she purchased Branches three months after her wedding.
Martin says she was inspired to own her own business by her father Gene Martin, who started a small business at age 18 and built it into a very successful company.
“My dad passed away, and I feel like having my own business is my way of honoring him,” she says. “And it’s exceeded my expectations. I didn’t think we’d turn things around this fast.”
Since taking over operations eight months ago, Martin has been to her first market and has logged long hours, remodeling, rearranging and refocusing the store. And she’s done it all with the help of her husband, Zach Henrichs, who works only two blocks away from Branches as a project engineer for Baseline Engineering.
“He’s really there when I need him and helps me a lot,” Martin says. “He’s been my support.”
The couple’s dog, Bonnie, a Pyrenees-Labrador mix, has also become an important part of the business. She’s become a fixture at Branches and has helped make a few sales when customers come back to visit her at the store.
Martin says owning a business downtown has connected her with the community. She’s met other business owners, gotten involved in Main Street Steamboat Springs and found a mentor in the organization’s executive director Lisa Popovich.
“It takes courage to do what Molly’s done,” Popovich says. “It’s not easy to be a small business owner in Steamboat, and especially a young business owner. Molly’s really come to understand what it means to run a business, to work hard, to have employees, and she’s doing great.”
As if running a small retail business wasn’t enough, Martin and Henrichs also co-own M&H Land and Cattle, a small cattle operation in Clark, where Martin grew up.
“When we’re not here (at the store), we’re on the ranch working,” Martin says. “It’s what we love.”
Martin also donates her time to support the North Routt Gymkhana Club, North Routt Charter School and the Routt County Fair.
Owning her own business at such young age has posed a few obstacles, but Martin says it’s been a great experience so far.
“Just because you’re young doesn’t mean you don’t know what you want or don’t know what you’re doing,” Martin says. “You just need to trust your instincts and trust your vision. It’s been a challenge, but I don’t regret anything.”
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