April 07, 2022

The My Sister’s Cottage Story

By Haley Arnold
The My Sister’s Cottage Story

“I learned my words have power,” Britteny Bellinger says while looking back on opening her small business amid a global pandemic. For many people, this sounds like an uphill battle, but Britteny is inspiringly positive. She believes if she says she will do it— it will happen. You may just believe her after hearing the story of how she created My Sister’s Cottage, a small business that gives back to its community in a big way.

While My Sister’s Cottage is a charming boutique in Wilmington, NC specializing in home decor, clothing, and gifts, there is a lot more than meets the eye with this beloved local store. The name “My Sister’s Cottage” has a double meaning. The first is a tale of the two co-founders and sisters, Britteny Bellinger and Angela Kline. They developed the idea for My Sister's Cottage while living in cottages not ten feet apart. The second reason for the name is the store’s mission. My Sister’s Cottage is a Christian boutique that promises to create a safe house, or cottage, for every store opened nationwide to help women escape sex trafficking.

The vision for My Sister’s Cottage started, like many great success stories, in a basement. In 2019 My Sister’s Cottage started as an online store based in Omaha Nebraska. Britteny and Angela wanted to do something bigger than a boutique— and decided to put a cause behind their efforts with the help of Life Gate Church. They felt strongly about creating a better world for women everywhere and decided to dedicate 10% of their profits to funding safe houses for women in need. Not long after opening, My Sister’s Cottage started to fulfill their goal by funding the creation of the first-ever women’s safe house in Nebraska.

Unfortunately, the creation of My Sister’s Cottage wasn’t without its hurdles. Just six months after finding success from their basement location, Britteny became chronically ill, and it seemed like her dream had hit a standstill. She moved to Wilmington, NC with only two boxes of product left to represent My Sister’s Cottage. It seemed that there would be no chance to continue her vision. She worked as a realtor for a year after moving to Wilmington, but still envisioned something bigger.

My Sister’s Cottage began again, this time in a 10’x10’ booth in Uptown Market. Britteny experienced a lot of success from this small operation and discovered her love for apparel. She began having discussions with Mayfaire Town Center to create a brick and mortar store of her very own but just when things were looking bright, the world turned on its head. The COVID-19 pandemic arrived in full force. The pandemic was a terror to small businesses, and for a while, a brick and mortar location seemed impossible, but Britteny didn’t give up. She decided it was time for a change when she was told she would need to stop working from home and return to the workplace. Working from home to spend more time with family had become important to her daily life. Then an opportunity arose, and she took it.

Only two weeks after quitting her job as a realtor, Britteny opened her first brick and mortar store in a six hundred square foot space in October 2020. She was shocked by the incredible support of the Wilmington community and tasted success in a time that felt extraordinarily grim. Britteny didn’t slow down. She returned to her discussions with Mayfaire Town Center as her three-month lease on her small, six hundred square foot store came to an end.

In January of 2021, My Sister’s Cottage opened its current location in Mayfaire Town Center intending to expand completely into the 5,000 sq ft. space by December. They beat their goal by three months with the help of their supportive and loving community. Britteny’s first employee and supporter was her mother. Her husband joined the business in October of 2021 as COO, finalizing the image of this cohesive family business.

To Britteny Bellinger, My Sister’s Cottage is more than a Christian boutique, it's a way for her to give back to her community and leave behind a legacy for her family. My Sister's Cottage is a place where she can create jobs and treat her staff like family members. She is determined to make My Sister’s Cottage into a Christian boutique that is truly inclusive and accepts everyone with the love of a community. Britteny firmly believes that everyone is embraced by God’s love, no matter their beliefs or backgrounds, and wants to cultivate growth in her community.

Today, ten percent of My Sister’s Cottage’s profits are donated to A Safe Place in Wilmington, NC, to help women in their darkest hours. Britteny feels blessed to have found her voice and strength while creating My Sister’s Cottage. She says that it “doesn’t feel real,” that she has established this Wilmington local boutique while battling chronic illness amid a pandemic. She hopes to continue giving back to her community and empowering women on their trials through life as she funds the creation of a safe house with every My Sister’s Cottage boutique she creates.

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