Alpine Sisters & a Family Business


By KRISTY O’LEARY | PIVOT Magazine Writer & Owner of  Scout & Burrow

Just a few hours east of Seven Sisters Peaks Jessica and Ella Butz are reaching new summits on their entrepreneurial journey. Nestled in the Rocky Mountains, stunning Smithers, BC is home to these dynamic sisters eager to enrich their bustling entrepreneurial community. I had the pleasure of speaking with Ella Butz about their journey, their community and Alpine entrepreneurship.

The journey began six years ago when the duo opened Mainerz Streetwear. The sisters grew up in an entrepreneurial family so becoming entrepreneurs was a natural fit. Ella and Jessica had very clear goals; make a living, enrich the town they love, and have a great time doing it. Ella told me empathetically “We wanted it to be fun. Loving our job is true success.” Ella and Jessica have not lost their initial passion for Mainerz.

These ambitious sisters didn’t stop with Mainerz Streetwear. Two and a half years ago they acquired a 13,000 square foot building. After extensive renovations the building is now home to Mainerz Streetwear, 4 other commercial properties and 7 residential spaces. The building has allowed other entrepreneurs access to outstanding commercial space from which to launch new ventures.

In December 2013 Ella and Jessica launched Back Alley Boots with business partner Angie Tattersall. Back Alley opened its doors as an addition to Mainerz Streetwear and the future is bright. These self-assured entrepreneurs have made fun one of the core values of their business.

Ella’s passion for her family and community came through clearly. The Butz-sisters love of Smithers is a powerful driver for their entrepreneurial success. “When we decided to go into business we knew Smithers is where we would put our roots down,” says Ella. “Smithers is ‘the gem of the north.’ It is beautiful, safe and progressive.” I could hear Ella’s young son playing in the background as we talked. Ella told me on the Mainerz block alone there are 4 other female led companies.

These driven entrepreneurs didn’t just open a business they have become public figures within their community. “As it turns out, entrepreneurial life in Smithers is very much a public life,” says Ella. “It is a small town where everyone knows everyone.” Clearly, the Mainerz and Back Alley Boots team have embraced the public side of their entrepreneurial life and are using their ventures as a means to give back.

Looking to the future it is obvious that the Butz sisters will continue to build thriving companies in Smithers, the gem of the north. “Our future is in Smithers, working in our community surrounded by alpine beauty.”

Check out Mainerz Streetwear and Back Alley Boots!

  • Leanne Gyger

    “I have known the Butz family since I was a teenager (now a mom of 2 boys in their 20’s) I watched these girls grow up into beautiful ladies! They are an amazing family and we are so lucky to have a store like this in Smithers! They are honest, fun, caring and spunky ~ always makes a shopping trip a great experience! 🙂 Thanks Jess and Ella!!” <3 Leanne Gyger