CHAMBERLAIN, S.D. — What do you get when you combine two best friends who have shared an incredibly similar journey?
A boozy clothing store named the BFF’S Sip and Shop Boutique.
Rochelle Hopkins and Jen Lauritsen were diagnosed with the same breast cancer, shared the same oncologists and the same surgeons. Only when Lauritsen decided on a specific preschool did she, by sheer happenstance, run into Rochelle, and from then on, they were joined at the hip.
“It was an instant connection,” said Lauritsen, who’s originally from Mitchell. “We’d been through a lot of the same journey.”
Lauritsen credits the idea of BFF’S Sip and Shop Boutique to Hopkins, who she claims has always wanted to open a clothing store. Combined with the fun idea to be able to enjoy a beverage of the shoppers’ choice, BFF’S became a reality.
Theirs is a journey no one wants to travel, yet they have both stayed relatively optimistic in the face of adversity with the hopes of helping others stay positive.
“If I could go back and never have cancer, would I chose that? No, I wouldn’t,” Hopkins said. “It’s the reason I’m the person I am today and the reason I’m right where I should be.”
BFF’S Sip and Shop Boutique is much more than just a little shop for clothes — it’s a community for survivors like Laurtisen and Hopkins.
“The meaning behind the name is actually ‘Beauty, Fashion, Faith, Survivors’,” Lauritsen explained. “We really just wanted to create a community and support system for people who have been through similar experiences to ours.”
The community, in turn, has responded with unconditional support. After their grand opening at the end of May, sales have been up and everything seems to be going rather smoothly.
“The community has been everything,” Lauritsen said. “The only challenge was getting up and going, but we had a lot of help finding an amazing location right on Main Street. We just used a lot of the resources we had and got some funding, and then we just did it.”
Lauritsen described the many ideas that they have in store for the shop, despite being a relatively new business.
“We’ve just started our Breast Friends Support Group, which is just a support group for women going through breast cancer or who are in remission,” she said.
The support group, which started gathering about two weeks ago, is held every first and third Thursday at 5:30 p.m.
The duo are also in the midst of starting their own nonprofit, fittingly named the Breast Friends Foundation. Their hopes in opening up this nonprofit is to help relieve cancer survivors and their families’ travel and medical expenses.
They provide discounts for breast cancer survivors in-store, hold happy hour fashion show events, as well as host Mimosa Saturdays, where shoppers can stop by for a free mimosa while they poke around the store.
“We change clothing every week or so because we live in kind of a small town,” Lauritsen said. “So you won’t run the risk of wearing the same things as everyone else.”
Eventually, the pair hopes to expand and begin hosting bridal showers, birthday parties and other social promotions where the community is invited for some crafts and wine.
“We welcome everyone to just come and hang out,” Lauritsen said.
is located at 200 N. Main Street, and operates Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., with shortened hours of 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday.
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