Career 13 January 2017
When you are charting your own course, be prepared for people to say you are losing your mind. My parents said those words in 2010 when I told them I was going to purchase a 4,000-square-foot warehouse space in downtown Lexington, Kentucky. They questioned not only the location, which is frequented by industrial trucks, but also the intention of opening an upscale special-events venue on a street better known for its junkyards and towed cars. Nearly seven years later and with five venues running successfully, I’m glad I listened to my gut.
I have more than 25 years of experience as an entrepreneur in the entertainment industry.
Here’s what I learned, which I hope helps you as a fellow female leader and entrepreneur:
1. Listen to your gut and not everyone around you.
Not only did my partner Jill Bakehorn and I make that significant purchase in 2010, I also had 4-month-old triplets! I had spent 15 years of working late nights after opening and managing a successful nightclub business in Lexington. It was time for me to make a change, which led to a series of BIG changes at the SAME time.
Again, if I listened to everyone around me, except for Jill, I would have ran away from the purchase. However, I knew in my gut there was a wonderful, creative opportunity sitting in front of me. I also knew the property would take endless amounts of work (which it continues to do), but the entrepreneurial spirit in me told me to go for it.
We now have five industrial-chic, bourbon-themed event venues under the brand of Venues of The Grand Reserve. Each unique, the venues include: The Grand Reserve, The Barrel House Events Center, Garden Branch, The Speakeasy Room and Distillery Square, to open in March 2017.
Kelly (left) and Jill
2. Keep evolving; you have to spend money to make money.
Our business exploded so quickly because we created something new in Central Kentucky that made event-planning an easy one-stop shop. Jill is the co-owner of Bluegrass Catering, which is the exclusive caterer for Venues of The Grand Reserve. She and I also do the majority of the hard work - yes, hammers, saws and nail guns - and have the scars to prove it! We purchased A/V, linens, tables, chairs, décor, etc. When you have consistent conversations with customers about their needs and put things in place to fill those needs, your business will grow quickly.
3. If you believe you can do it, you can.
The road has been long, but worth it. Case in point: In 2010, after extensive remodeling and processes to meet city codes, the first space was transformed into The Barrel House Events Center and opened in the fall. After successfully opening The Barrel House, we purchased a 6,000-square-foot vacant, gravel lot across the street which we bulldozed into a lush outdoor space to hosts weddings and corporate meals.
Not ones to rest on our laurels, in 2012, we bought an 11,000-square-foot covered parking garage in the same warehouse as The Barrel House Events Center. I obtained my General Contractor’s license to head the building and design of the new space. Named The Grand Reserve, this venue features a wall of more than two miles of Kentucky bourbon-barrel staves, which Jill and I designed and built. In 2015, we purchased the remaining square footage (25K) of the warehouse and its surrounding building and parking lots. This space was made into The Speakeasy Room and the coming-soon Distillery Square.
If Jill and I didn’t believe whole-heartedly in this business, we would have stopped a long time ago. The hours are long, vendors and clients can be challenging, the overhead is high, and the projects never end. But, we LOVE what we’ve created and continue to take to the next level. We hope to pass this business on to the triplets, who are growing up at Venues of The Grand Reserve. As strong women, we are often our worst critics. Let’s stop doing that and do more listening to our gut, evolving, and believing we can do it!
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Help! My Friend Is a No Show
Dear Armchair Psychologist,
I have a friend who doesn't reply to my messages about meeting for dinner, etc. Although, last week I ran into her at a local restaurant of mine, it has always been awkward to be friends with her. Should I continue our friendship or discontinue it? We've been friends for a total four years and nothing has changed. I don't feel as comfortable with her as my other close friends, and I don't think I'll ever be able to reach that comfort zone in pure friendship.
Dear Sadsies,I am sorry to hear you've been neglected by your friend. You may already have the answer to your question, since you're evaluating the non-existing bond between yourself and your friend. However, I'll gladly affirm to you that a friendship that isn't reciprocated is not a good friendship.
I have had a similar situation with a friend whom I'd grown up with but who was also consistently a very negative person, a true Debby Downer. One day, I just had enough of her criticism and vitriol. I stopped making excuses for her and dumped her. It was a great decision and I haven't looked back. With that in mind, it could be possible that something has changed in your friend's life, but it's insignificant if she isn't responding to you. It's time to dump her and spend your energy where it's appreciated. Don't dwell on this friend. History is not enough to create a lasting bond, it only means just that—you and your friend have history—so let her be history!
- The Armchair Psychologist