This entrepreneur capitalized on the success of (and revenue from) her first business to embark on a second, entirely unrelated venture. Learn the details of her success story and how understanding her strengths and weaknesses makes it possible for her to run businesses in two very different industries.
The story behind Heather Lanker’s first business is similar to that of many entrepreneurs’: She had a passion for something and an issue she wanted to address.
For as long as she can remember, Lanker has always been obsessed with clothes. And when she had her daughters, that love of unique, beautiful pieces only grew. But unique was and is a necessity to Lanker. Which is why she started making clothes for her little girls instead of heading to a chain retailer or online shop.
The business snowballed from there. Friends, family and people in Lanker’s Arkansas town were eager to find out where the trend-setting mom shopped for her kids. And when they found out Lanker was the designer behind the boldly-patterned, playful attire, the orders started rolling in and Heather Hill clothing was born.
By 2010, Lanker had opened up her own physical storefront after working out of her home for years, ultimately becoming a prominent business owner in her town. But she was ready to expand in a different direction. “The success of the clothing business led me to buy a 14,000-square-foot building—6,000 square feet made a perfect space for an event center in our downtown. So, I renovated it to be that,” she says.
Like most active business owners in a community, the idea for the event center—known as The Brick Ballroom—stemmed from Lanker noticing a need in her town: “Our community had nothing the size of the space. I book nonprofits (to host fundraisers) and weddings.”
Her second business, although decidedly different from her first, took off. The Brick Ballroom, with its whitewashed walls and exposed rafters, has become a go-to location for special events in the south. The space was featured in Arkansas Bride and The Knot. And, recognized as the No. 1 venue in Arkansas by Southern Celebrations Magazine.
Running two diverse businesses has proven unbelievably successful for Lanker, but it’s certainly been a learning process. Her biggest takeaway? “Just because you work hard at a business does not mean you will succeed,” she answers. But Lanker has found the secret ingredient: recognizing your limitations and asking for help. She elaborates, “There are many hats I wear and regularly admit that I’m not great at some. When I need help, I have to be assertive and seek it out. This does not come naturally to me. But once I started reaching out to people it gave them the opportunity to feel like they were part of the process and they, in turn, became my greatest mouthpieces for my business.”
For other entrepreneurs out there, whether running one business or working on multiple endeavors, this seasoned self-starter stresses, “You will fail many times. When you do, it’s your choice to start again and try to find another way to succeed. Business is constantly changing—so must you.”
Interested in learning more about The Brick Ballroom? Check out the event center’s website at www.thebrickballroom.com. Want to explore the business that made the best venue in Arkansas possible? Head over to www.heatherhillclothing.com.