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Jax and Henley team

Tommiepreneur Spotlight: Connor Koerbitz '16

Spot opportunity. Start small. Be scrappy. Do it again.

That’s been the tried-and-true process for Tommiepreneur Connor Koerbitz ’16. As a high schooler, Connor wondered what happened with excess retail products. He researched and spotted an opportunity that started with selling handbags online.

“I wanted to sell something easier to manage to see if I could make it work. Handbags were perfect. There aren’t small, medium and large sizes to keep inventory of, and they were always in demand,” Koerbitz said. “I sold a pallet of bags almost instantly.” That’s when Jax & Henley was born.

Connor took his knack for entrepreneurship to the Schulze School, where he graduated with a degree in just three years. He then decided to test the market again, opening an outlet store to sell handbags in the northern Twin Cities suburbs.

“I was visiting my grandparents in Minot, North Dakota and I noticed a lot of people had designer bags, but no local store sold them. So I figured I’d give it a shot. We started small there too, and we added new offerings as we continued to test the market for viability.”

Koerbitz continues to keep his eye out for what else the market needs, building on his success in handbags. Jax & Henley now sells boutique clothing, has professional stylists on staff and is featured in a downtown Minot market space. After spotting another opportunity in town and just across the hall, Conner even opened a men’s store.

Jax & Henley men's storefront
“We were filling a market need for women in Minot, but men didn’t have a place to buy higher-end clothing,” said Koerbitz, who jumped at a chance to open the men’s store in a connected building. “We repurposed almost every fixture from other retailers or our women’s store. We painted the inside of the store ourselves, just keeping it cost-effective to test the concept to see if it works. Start small, test, innovate, keep moving, but be scrappy.”

While Koerbitz is waiting to see if his men’s store idea will grow like the women’s side, he decided to take what he’s learned back home to the Twin Cities. Jax & Henley entered Rosedale Mall with a women’s store this past October. And you guessed it, he’s starting small to test his concept, which so far has surpassed company goals

“Our next step is once we prove it works in Roseville, we open a few in more select cities and see where it goes.”

Spot opportunity. Start small. Be scrappy. Do it again.