Style adventure. Passion for good.

Jill Shea and Laura Polanski began working together in retail fashion long before opening the doors to their first Leela & Lavender. Some of their duties, like traveling abroad and attending fashion shows, were as glamorous as you might imagine. Others, such as sourcing inventory and business planning, may not have involved runways but were important nonetheless. 

Throughout it all Jill and Laura talked endlessly about how a fashion store should be properly run. The colleagues spent over a decade refining their own business strategy without knowing it. By the time their former employer ceased to be, the two already knew precisely what their next steps together would be.

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“Laura and I thought that shopping had become not fun anymore,” said Jill. “It’s hard enough to find someone to check you out when you go to a department store, let alone let you into the fitting rooms. And having the time to visit multiple stores during one shopping trip is not a luxury most women have – nor is paying too much for the things they would like to wear.”

“We envisioned Leela & Lavender as a place where you can find any style you want, at any price point from moderate to premium,” said Laura. “We look around the country for new brands and fashions that we know will resonate with our customers here in North Dakota, as well as for our growing number of online shoppers. We offer clothing by designers including Mother, A GOLDE, Good American, BB Dakota, Free People and Just Black, footwear by Sorel, Vintage Havana and Dolce Vita, and a variety of other brands that will help a woman look good whether she’s a CEO or a college student. 

“We also offer the leisurewear that became more popular as an increasing number of people began working from home. Even when you’re staying in, you still want something to brighten up your wardrobe every now and then.”

“It was also really important to us that we make each of our stores feel like a second home,” said Jill. “Every Leela & Lavender has a fireplace, a restroom, and even a bar! That alone has made Leela & Lavender a popular place to host birthday parties and bridal showers. Our guests can relax, have a drink, and then model some new outfits for their friends and family.”

“We believe in using business as a force for good,” said Laura. “We often host special shopping events to raise money for local charities, like Landon’s Light which provides support to families with children battling cancer and other illnesses, and Giving Hearts Day, an annual event which helps a great many worthy causes throughout North Dakota and Minnesota.”

Leela & Lavender makes it easy to shop with your family. If your kids are in tow, they’ll be able to entertain themselves with treats, toys and cartoons while you enjoy the luxury of trying things on uninterrupted. And if you’re like my girlfriend, who has to contend with an irascible oaf’s three-second attention span while you’re out shopping for clothes, then you can deposit him in front of the television where he will be quiet and content. The bar, surely, will soften his obstinance even further.

Leela & Lavender is located in the Schilling Building at 1410 43rd Ave NE in Bismarck. You can learn more about the local woman-owned business and also order online at


By David Scheller