When I started my business 3 1/2 years ago, the first thing my mom said to me was “keep a journal”. I have had some crazy jobs in the past, and I think she has always been disappointed that I didn’t keep a journal. The amount of antics I’ve found myself in since I started my professional career is astounding, but I’ve never been diligent enough to record my lessons with the hope that one day I could turn them into a New York Times bestseller. My mom is disappointed.
The truth is, entrepreneurship is hard, very hard. No matter what you’ve heard, it’s a dirty business with very little glamour. I think you would be hard pressed to find any business owner that hasn’t shed at least one tear or sweat a little while opening their business. At least not the passionate entrepreneurs. After much pressure from my family and staff, and since I have grown my business to the point that I actually have 5 minutes a week to breathe, I decided to start blogging about my adventures and lessons. I don’t really expect to have much of an audience, but if you are interested in opening a business and want to learn about the hard knocks from someone who has been there and done that, you might find this intriguing. If you are already a seasoned entrepreneur, you will probably find laughter in the situations that I’m sure you’ve experienced yourself. The ultimate goal is to showcase the good, the bad and the passion that drives entrepreneurs. It’s not all daisies and sunshine, there are a lot of dark moments and unbearable stress. I want to be honest about my experiences.
But first, a little about me and my businesses:
I was always a leader growing up. I drove my parents crazy with my incessant stubbornness and drive. When I was 12 I insisted that I go spend the summer with my aunt, who had just opened a retail gift shop on the Outer Banks. That summer opened my eyes to the prospects of what owning your own business was like. I went back to the Outer Banks every summer after that. By the time I was 15 I had learned more about operating a retail business than most MBA students. I was doing all the product ordering, training staff and even doing bookkeeping. I’m sure Brenda was always behind me cleaning up my messes, but all that mattered was that I was hooked. I lived 8 blocks from the beach and I think I might’ve gone twice a summer. One of my biggest regrets is that I didn’t buy her shops when she was ready to sell, but I just wanted bigger things.
Through my first couple years of college back in Texas I continued to work hard. Early on I spent a semester getting my EMT certificate, so I spent most of my days working on an ambulance. There was one semester in particular when I would work 24-hour shifts on the ambulance Monday & Wednesday, drive straight to U of H and be in class all day Tuesday & Thursday and wait tables Friday and Saturday. Working 60 hours a week and going to school full-time is an insane schedule, one that I don’t wish upon anyone. During my junior year my boyfriend at the time decided to join the Navy and would be moving to Charleston. I decided I was ready for a new adventure and followed him. There I started working at Sticky Fingers as a waitress and quickly rose up the ranks to a Restaurant Manager. The relationship didn’t work out, but I was sucked into hospitality so deep there was no getting out. Long story short, I found my way in Greenville as the Catering Sales Manager for Sticky Fingers. The rest is history.
I opened my first business, Liquid Catering, in 2011 at the age of 26. Liquid Catering is a special event bartending company that specializes in providing bar and beverage packages for weddings, corporate events and private parties. Since we opened our doors we have catered over 600 events ranging from 25 guests to 2,500. We are a unique business model, being that we are a catering company that doesn’t provide any food. If you want alcoholic beverages served at your event, that’s where we come in. Our staff consists of highly trained bartenders that understand the difference between pouring drink at your local sports bar and a wedding. All of our packages are priced per person based on their alcohol choices and the length of service.
In January of 2013 I was given the opportunity to open The Old Cigar Warehouse, a special event venue located in Downtown Greenville. With over 7,000 square feet of event space in one of Greenville’s most recognized historic buildings, we are in high demand. We can accommodate up to 500 guests and host mostly weddings, fundraisers and corporate events.
To date I have 6 full-time employees, 3 full-time interns and over 40 part-time event staff. Our sales have grown 1000% since our first event, which is HUGE! I treasure every day I get to come to work and enjoy what I do and the people I work with. I can’t imagine doing anything else.