And I wasn’t even there.
(This is a Small Town Gratitude Post. #2. Because this is How.It.Is.Done. )
So the coffee…. It was a “For Women Entrepreneurs Social” that the former director of The Sustainable Business Center had gone to. (Her name is Kristy and someday I will tell you more about her, because without her we wouldn’t be here either) Kristy met up with all sorts of people that day – including a VP from a local bank. Kristy took the Banker’s card and went about her day.
Later that week I called and set up an appointment with Kristy. I was FASCINATED by The Sustainable Center in Galesburg. I mean – it was right there in GALESBURG! Dang! Fancy! Woodhull is 25 minutes (unless you speed) away from Galesburg, and they are in different counties (which makes a difference) but I still wanted to learn everything I could about this place. Plus it’s next to the Farm King. And that just makes me love it more.
I finally meet Kristy – we’ve chatted on the phone but in person… BAM! Her accent is amazing. A beautiful drawl that immediately makes you hate the sound of your own, distinctively not southern, voice. She is so smart. And so funny. And I want to be her BFF immediately. We talk about food, and yoga. She shows me around The Sustainable Business Center and I can’t believe that Galesburg has managed to attract such an amazing place. And that they’ve managed to attract someone as educated and social and smarty-pants funny as this lady.
Well, we’re talking about The Butter Churn and my vision for it and food in small towns and money and she says “Omigod y’all. You need to talk to THIS woman.” And she hands me a business card for this banker lady that she met. As I’m looking at the card Kristy continues and says “I just met with her at this coffee social that is for entrepreneurs and she loves to work with women to get their business off the ground. She’s fantastic!”
And I don’t know this yet. But another piece of the puzzle has just put into place. And that piece is a woman named Theresa.
So THAT.VERY.MINUTE Kristy starts making a phone call to Theresa (because Kristy does not mess around) and then I’m on the phone with Theresa.
And this is where it gets a little sappy.
It is hard for me to write about Theresa, this amazing woman, without being super emotional, because hands down, The Butter Churn would not be happening right now without her. And I’m going to get all serious because I am so deeply indebted to her.
In one of our first phone calls I realized she does what I do – but with business and money. She is a financial doula. She has held my hand through this whole experience. She has navigated the new language of money and business for me. She has gently asked me questions to help me to know where to go next. She has been steadfast and rock solid. And she has listened to all my crazy at various times (how in the world she was able to stay on the phone with me when I was, er…. challenged by some personal life things with my ex-husband I will never know) She shifted through the business plan, the numbers (That had to be a get-in-to-heaven sort of thing because it was daunting for me to put them together and she actually DID something with them). She went to bat for us with her bank and believed in us.
She answered phone calls and emails and let me bawl in her office while I talked about why I want to do this. (perhaps you have noticed my emotional trend of tears. I was dubbed years ago by one of my besties as “an mushy little thing”. And Dang if it’s not ridiculously true)
She does all this while being warm and professional. She can work magic with numbers and doesn’t blink at asking the hard questions. Her curiosity and willingness to learn about something floors me. I’m fairly sure she’s unflappable. And that says a lot. I bring a lot to the table and she has somehow found HOURS of time to walk me through all this.
I read an article recently that said only 27% percent of new business ventures are able to get backing from traditional lending institutions. 27%. Dang. When you also read other small business articles and research you may hear about how small business fuels rural America. The local economy. Etc… And yet, for start-ups, it’s low. Somehow The Butter Churn made it. And while maybe some of it was us, a lot of it was Theresa.
The loyalty I feel towards her is unparallel. When I picture the opening day, part of wanting it to be amazing is because I don’t want to let her down. She believed in me and fought for this. I want her to be proud and prove to her that she made a good choice with us.
Thank You Theresa. Professionally you moved my store from paper to reality.
Personally you inspire me to want to know everything I can about my money, the business’s money, the nuts and bolts of finances. It’s taking me some time to wrap it up in my head – but I wouldn’t even be close to this point without your amazing modeling. And personally you are just a person I feel blessed to know.
p.s. First Mid-Illinois Bank & Trust – you chose wisely when you hired this lady. And we will be your customers and clients for years because of her.
(p.p.s. Kristy – thank you for knowing exactly what I needed when I needed it. )