MSUB Alumni selected as 2016 40 Under Forty

Katie Cline Ellis

BSBA Management 2007

 owner, Bottega


Katie Cline Ellis

A move west has proven successful for Bottega, an upscale women’s clothing store that switched locations from downtown to Shiloh Crossing about one year ago.


Doing business in Shiloh Crossing has its advantages, said Katie Cline Ellis, Bottega’s owner. Foot traffic is heavier, thanks in part to Bottega’s proximity to Scheels and other anchor stores. Parking is convenient, and many shoppers like to visit other women’s stores such as NeeCee’s and Meridian when they venture out to the West End.


According to one long-held measuring stick in retail marketing, 20 percent of the customers typically account for 80 percent of a store’s profits. 


“That’s why we reach out to our existing clients and say that we have just gotten something new in, and that we think you’ll like it,” Ellis said. “That type of relationship is really important. Maintaining our core clientele is huge because we have already gained their trust.”


Bottega is an Italian word meaning a studio or workshop. When it came to naming the store, Ellis wanted something that didn’t sound too feminine.


She also devoted a lot of attention to building the brand. Her father, Fred Cline, helped out the store’s look by crafting shelving, display fixtures and a large B-shaped wall hanging that’s mounted behind the front counter.


Ellis was introduced to retail sales during college when she went to work at The Buckle store in Rimrock Mall. Later, as a manager in training, she was offered an opportunity to open a new Buckle store in Cour d’Alene, Idaho. She ran the store for a while, but yearned to return to Billings and start her own business.


What’s the biggest challenge you face in your job? Finding the right staff of employees to help run your business is key. I have been fortunate to hire an amazing group of women who treat Bottega like their own. I have been able to instill the love of Bottega in them that they are proud to be a huge part of a small company. They execute the vision that I have created daily. 


What’s the best business advice you have received? Hire people “better than you.” I took this advice and took it to mean hire to your weaknesses, or in areas that you can easily delegate.


Who gave you that advice? Sean Robinson, Billings, store manager, The Buckle.


Here’s what I’d like to do to improve my community: Billings is my home, where I grew up. I love how welcoming we are as a community and how loyal we are to each other. Billings is a large hub for surrounding areas. Bottega is fortunate enough to be a part of Billings’ newest and largest shopping destinations. And Shiloh Crossing is still growing rapidly. I am very proud to be a part of this growth and know that I am part of the reason that people choose to continue to travel to Billings to spend money.


Outside of work, my biggest passion is: My family. My entire immediate family lives in Billings. We all currently live in the same neighborhood. We have large family dinners together multiple times a week. I love spending time with them as well as my nieces and nephew.


Which living person do you most admire? My parents. 


Aside from profit and loss, how do you measure success in your job? By how many people we are able to instill confidence in and make feel beautiful. I am a firm believer in that when we put on an outfit that we feel confident in, we take on the day differently. We walk taller, we are proud, we accomplish more, we are happier.


What do you consider your greatest achievement? The strong relationships that I have with my friends and family. It is difficult to remain close to good friends and family with the “craziness of life” happening. But I make a strong effort to stay connected through our adult lives. 


I’m happiest when I’m… spending time with my family. I am fortunate enough to get to travel with my family. We have so much fun together. It is so incredible to be so close and connected with them.


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Article & Photo credits: Billings Gazette 

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