Listen to Learn:
You are in for a real treat! The Up in Your Business creative team pulled out all the stops for this show. DJ legend, Tom Wood, put his editing skills to the test when he cut, pasted and compiled four different guest interviews that spanned three years for your listening enjoyment.
What is the common thread that holds them all together? They’re all located in Little Rock, Arkansas’s revitalized downtown neighborhood called SoMa, South Main Street.
Visionary Anita Davis reflects on the importance of “placemaking” in your community. Jack Sundell talks about his Peace Corp experience and how it inspired him to open Root Café. Loblolly’s ice cream is made in small batches by its founder Sally Mengel and has been featured in Savoir Magazine, and current Club 99 Rotary President and real estate developer, Hank Kelley, adds his two cents to the importance of neighborhoods like SoMa.
Murfreesboro native Anita Davis has a bachelor of science degree and varied business life experience that began in the 1980’s with her mail-order catalog called “Pure and Simple.”
In the early turn of the 21st century, Davis became an accidental real estate developer. In 2004, Davis bought the Bernice Building at 1417 S. Main. In 2005, she purchased the empty lot at 1401 S. Main. It was in 2005 that Davis, at a meeting of the National Main Street group in Seattle, learned about "placemaking," the design of public spaces that reflects the character and assets of a community.
In 2006, Davis bought the 100 year old Lincoln Building at the corner of 15th and Main, where StudioMain, the Green Corner Store and the soda fountain that has helped make Loblolly Creamery’s products well known across Arkansas are all located. In 2007 on the other side of Main Street, she bought the Bernice Building which now houses the downtown location of Boulevard Bread Co. Also in 2007, she bought the Sweden Creme property where The Root Cafe now thrives. In 2011, she bought a building next door to the Root for her purse museum. With a 3,000+ collection of women’s purses, Davis decided to create the Esse Purse Museum at 1510 South Main St. The museum opened in June 2013.
Jack Sundell’s young life experiences led him to open The Root Café in 2011. The Root Café’s intimate atmosphere was inspired by his volunteerism with the Peace Corp and the idea for locally sourced foods was inspired by his work with Heifer Ranch in Perryville, Arkansas.
The Root Café mission statement is “Building Community through Local Food” and according to Sundell “It means everything!” The ideals behind the phrase are strengthening the local food economy by supporting Arkansas farmers and producers, educating consumers about the positive economic and environmental impact of local purchasing and fostering a sense of pride in Little Rock and Arkansas.
The Root Café has been recognized with national awards, a $25,000 grant voted on by viewers of HLN’s “Growing America: A Journey to Success” and a $150,000 grant from Chase’s Mission Main Street Project. The Food Network has also visited The Root Café, with Simon Majumdar helping to judge a “Traditional Pie Bake-off” at the event.
Sally Megel is co-founder of Loblolly Creamery which started in 2011 in Little Rock, making small batches of artisan ice cream. The company has grown from just 8 flavors of ice cream to much more including wholesale ice creams to restaurants, soda syrups, bottled drinks and kumbucha. The recipes use no artifical additives, preservatives or coloring and many of the ingredients are local. Currently a number of Arkansas restaurants carry Loblolly Creamery ice creams on their menus but those craving ice cream can still go straight to the shop on Main Street in Little Rock to get their fix. Saveur Magazine listed two of Loblolly's recipes in their book "Ice Cream Adventures: The Best Ice Cream of the 50 States."
Hank Kelley grew up in Heber Springs, AR. He received his Bachelors of Business Administration from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville where he graduated with honors. In the late 1970s he went to work in the northwest Arkansas real estate market and during that time met and married former Little Rock Mayor Jim Dailey’s sister, Stephanie Dailey. In 1980 they moved to central Arkansas and Kelley got his MBA in Finance and a Commercial Real Estate Brokerage License. He has instructed Real Estate courses at University of Arkansas at Little Rock and created the Endowed Scholarship to enable students to attend the U of A. Kelley is the CEO of Flake and Kelley Commercial Real Estate firm and over the past 35 years has represented clients that include AT&T, Panera Bread, McDonald’s, Starbucks, Acxiom, City of Little Rock Parks & Recreation and the Pulaski County School District.
[0:00:00.5] ANNOUNCER: On this week’s special edition of Up In your Business with Kerry McCoy, we’re going to celebrate the success and entrepreneurial spirit behind the Downtown Little Rock neighborhood, known as SoMa, or South on Main.
Our guests, Anita Davis, Jack Sundell, Hank Kelley and Sally Mengel will tell stories and explain the growth and increasing popularity of the SoMa neighborhood. Thank you for tuning in.
[0:00:33.3] GM: Welcome to Up in Your Business with Kerry McCoy, a production of flagandbanner.com. Through storytelling and conversational interviews, this weekly radio show and podcast offers listeners an insider’s view into starting and running a business, the ups and downs of risk-taking and the commonalities of successful people.
Connect with Kerry through her candid, often funny and always informative weekly blog. There, you'll read, learn and may comment about her life as a 21st century wife, mother, daughter and entrepreneur.
Now, it's time for Kerry McCoy to get all up in your business.
[0:01:06.1] KM: Thank you, son Gray. This show Up In your Business with Kerry McCoy began with entrepreneurs in mind, a platform for me, a small business owner and a guest to pay forward our experiential knowledge in a conversational way. As with all new endeavors, it’s had some unexpected outcomes, good outcomes. For instance, the show began with entrepreneurs and want-to-be entrepreneurs in mind, but we found it has a much wider appeal, because after all, who isn’t inspired by every day people’s American-made stories?
Another discovery that I find interesting is that many, many of my guest have a spiritual bent and the heart of a teacher, and last, that business in of itself is creative. My guest entrepreneur today is Anita Davis, is uber creative, evident by all the restoration and changes she’s made to the once abandoned part of Downtown Little Rock, Arkansas, now known as SoMa, or South on Main.
Born and raised in a small town of Murfreesboro, Arkansas, Anita grew up in a time of Downtown communities with sidewalks and locally-owned shops. In 2004 when she moved to Little Rock, Arkansas and saw a group of old buildings in disrepair at the south-end of Main street, she got inspired to recreate a time gone by and began the decade-long revitalization of what we now call SoMa, or South on Main.
At the corner of 15th and Main, Anita is the landlord for the Green Corner Store, Loblolly Creamery, my favorite, and the nationally recognized Root Café. On the next corner, a block down, she lovingly constructed a sculpture garden and named it after her grandmother, Bernice Garden. In 2013, Anita had the idea of sharing her lifelong addiction of purse collecting, into yet another unique and thoroughly modern concept, by opening the Esse Purse Museum with a private collection of no less than 3,000 period purses. I love that.
It is a pleasure to welcome to the table the shy and creative entrepreneur, Miss Anita Davis.
You are a complex woman. I can’t follow your whole business career. What was your business career?
[0:03:17.7] AD: Well, it’s sort of, let’s see. What is the word? A little jagged, or a little – it’s not real consistent.
[0:03:25.0] KM: I know. You’re very creative, you dabble in this, you dabble on that. Are you parents entrepreneurs?
[0:03:32.1] AD: Yeah. Well, my dad was in a family business. He was a lumberman and had timber. My mother, she was quite gregarious and she was always involved in this; community things. She would come to Little Rock for keep Arkansas beautiful and that sort of thing.
[0:03:50.9] KM: Your mother was involved in the community, which makes sense with you. Then your father was an entrepreneur, which makes sense with you. You got the best of both of those people.
I’m speaking today with Miss Anita Davis, leading developer of South on Main in Little Rock, Arkansas and curator of her very own Esse Purse Museum with a private collection of over 3,000 purses. You’ve become the driving force in the development of – developing the whole south end of Main. Bernice Garden, the Lincoln Building, the Sweden Crème drive-in that’s now the Root Café and your Esse Purse Museum.
[0:04:22.3] AD: The Bernice Building where Boulevard and Moxy, that was my very first building and I still own that one. I sold the Sweden Crème building to Carrie and Jack.
[0:04:34.0] KM: Oh, you did.
[0:04:34.8] AD: A year or two ago. I can’t remember exactly. After they got the wonderful grant, they really wanted to invest in that property and it made sense to them to buy the property. We really wanted to keep them in the South Main area, so –
[0:04:53.8] KM: Anita Davis, can I just say I love you? That was a very good thing for you to do with them.
[0:04:59.0] AD: Well, they’re just such a boom for our area.
[0:05:02.3] KM: They’re great people.
[0:05:03.2] AD: Yes. It’s really interesting how that happens and it’s also interesting that if you can identify philosophy, other people will pair up with you and understand that, “That's my philosophy too. I want to do that.” It's really just taking care of the land, and of we want a walkable community, so that we don't have to rely on our cars so much. We want to make it slow, the traffic slowed down just a bit, so that we can all walk and not be scared that we're going to be hit.
Then also, it makes us pay attention to the litter and the trash that's on the street, so that it's not going down into the storm drains and ruining the fish creek. There's all kinds of opportunities there. The garden is about having more dirt. The dirt takes in the rain and we don't have as much flood. We have beautiful little curb knockouts in our area that are actually planted with a lot of beautiful things.
[0:06:14.0] KM: What do you mean you curb knockouts?
[0:06:15.6] AD: Well, it’s where there is dirt where you can grow things right there at the corners.
[0:06:22.5] KM: Oh. The gardens all the way up to the edge.
[0:06:24.2] AD: Yeah.
[0:06:24.8] KM: I love that.
[0:06:25.7] AD: The Business Improvement District takes care of that in our area.
[0:06:30.6] KM: You've been called an accidental real estate developer.
[0:06:33.8] AD: Yeah, it was accidental for sure.
[0:06:36.0] KM: Our mayor, he said you're a godsend to South on Main.
[0:06:40.1] AD: That is when you can bring people together and also, you offer them things that they need. 2007, here comes Steve LaFrance and Steve Edwards. They did the Edwards Food Giant. He bought that and improved it, I believe. Then Steve LaFrance did USA Drug. We have groceries and we have drugstore. Then we have some of these quaint little things that we have in our little pocket of the world, from 14th to 15th.
[0:07:17.2] KM: The whole place is beautiful.
[0:07:18.3] AD: Thank you. Now it is a home for everything, the Mardi Gras celebration, the beard growing contest, we have a great beard growing contest here in Arkansas. Farmers market in the summer. Your annual cornbread festival, I think is your baby, ain’t it?
[0:07:33.9] AD: Yes.
[0:07:34.4] KM: Because you grew up eating cornbread.
[0:07:35.7] AD: Yes. Cornbread and sweet milk at night.
[0:07:39.6] KM: You're really proud of that. You feel it was serendipity. Your grandmother's name, Bernice Gardens, and then the building that was Bernice Building is now Boulevard Bread, is that right?
[0:07:52.5] AD: And Moxy.
[0:07:53.9] KM: Which is a mercantile store.
[0:07:55.4] AD: Right. Yes.
[0:07:55.9] KM: Moxy Mercantile –
[0:07:56.6] AD: Really fun and wonderful store. Laura Kaler is an incredible woman.
[0:08:01.3] KM: She's doing a good job down there. You're listening to Up In your Business with me, Kerry McCoy. I'm speaking today with Miss Anita Davis, leading developer of South on Main in Little Rock, Arkansas and curator for her own Esse Purse Museum, which we're going to find out a bunch out about.
[0:08:14.5] AD: I had a traveling exhibit that travel the United States from 2006 to 2011. It started in Concord, Massachusetts and it ended up in Seattle. It went to a lot of history, small history museums in between and it came to a ham here, historic Arkansas Museum. Bill Worthen rented it. He rented it again, because he said it was the best attended special exhibit that they had. That gave me a clue that whenever it came back from this traveling exhibit, that it might be a good idea to plant it in the SoMa area.
[0:08:56.0] KM: The name of that exhibit was The Purse and the Person; A Century of Women's Purses.
[0:09:01.1] AD: Yes. That was right. There's not another Women's History Museum. Basically, that's what it is. Women, it's such a timely manner. We need to celebrate ourselves and honor ourselves. That's what this building is about. We are showing the challenges that women have had throughout the time. We show history decade by decade and we have through 1900 to 2000.
We show purses, what might have been in the purses, photographs of women holding their purses and then a brief history. You can see in the case where the teens is, is World War I and it's a very drab, somber time and the purses reflect that. Then in the 20s, it's more fun and people are wearing makeup, and so there's makeup in the purses and smoking accessories.
[0:10:00.9] KM: My favorite.
[0:10:01.8] AD: Yeah, all kinds of fabulous things.
[0:10:05.4] KM: Root Cafe is renovated and they’re in at the corner of Main and 15th or 16th or where is that?
[0:10:12.1] AD: 15 Main.
[0:10:13.7] KM: 15th in Main. Now you’ve decided to buy the building right next door, because your – the person, a century-old woman's persons, your traveling exhibit has done so well, you think there's a need for this. You put it in. We have to say the Huffington Post once you did put it in, included it in their list of the world's hottest museums.
[0:10:33.4] AD: In 2014. Yeah, that was exciting.
[0:10:34.9] KM: you were right. You were right, because they – I mean, that’s nothing to sneeze about. I drove down Main Street on the way here and I noticed how absolutely thriving and clean, like you said, and just full of activity and there were people everywhere. I thought to myself, “I would be so proud of myself if I was you.”
[0:10:59.2] AD: Well, look at all the people. Okay, Joe Fox has been there the entire time and he's right there at the – and just like these other fellows are at the other end. Then we have Rock Town Distillery that's just come in. John Brandenburg is working with Joe Fox at community bakery. We have a new t-shirt shop, the escape place, the reinvented vintage, I believe, in South on Main, the restaurant and Oxford American. There's just so many Rodina of the –
[0:11:31.0] KM: I know.
[0:11:32.7] AD: Then John Bell and Chris Clement. I would just go on and on and on and it's so wonderful to –
[0:11:38.8] KM: It's very much like you said. You've got the drugstore down there, you've got a grocery store down there, you've got restaurants down there, you've got a green space down there.
[0:11:47.3] Announcer: That’s Anita Davis from the Esse Purse Museum on Main Street in Little Rock. In a moment, we'll continue our visit to the booming SoMa neighborhood with Jack Sundell, owner of the Root Café. Coming up next on Up In your Business with Kerry McCoy.
[0:12:01.9] Announcer: Friends of Dreamland are proud to sponsor Up In your Business with Kerry McCoy. Dreamland Ballroom located on the third floor of the flagandbanner.com building in the historic Taborian Hall, is a nonprofit dedicated to bringing back the music, the history and the party of the Dreamland Ballroom. Our annual fundraiser, Dancing Into Dreamland will be a tournament of past champions to celebrate the 10th year.
Mark Friday November 15th at 7:00 p.m. on your calendar. The night will include a dance competition, where audience members text their votes for their favorite acts, a silent auction, free hors d'oeuvres, cash bar and your opportunity to experience the magic and imagine the music of the legends that played on the Dreamland stage, like Ella Fitzgerald, Ray Charles, Louis Armstrong and many more.
Tickets available at dreamlandballroom.org for the 10th annual Dancing Into Dreamland. Be a part of the history of Dreamland.
[0:12:57.0] Announcer: Kerry McCoy chats with another thriving entrepreneur in the SoMa neighborhood in Downtown Little Rock, the owner of the Root Café, Jack Sundell.
[0:13:05.2] KM: How did you start earning money to live your dream of opening a café? How did you start that?
[0:13:11.8] KM: I started thinking about it, brainstorming the idea of the Root Café with a young lady who was out at the Heifer Ranch with me, named Rebecca. The two of us ended up in Little Rock and continued to develop this idea. While it was still in very, very early stages, I met Corri who became my wife later and she became a third partner in all of the brainstorming and development of the Root. The three of us worked together for about three years and we did fundraisers, which you know about. The first one was at Doc’s Pool Hall.
[0:13:52.4] KM: At Arkansas Flag and Banner.
[0:13:53.4] JS: At the Arkansas Flag and Banner.
[0:13:54.7] KM: That’s when I met you. How many fundraisers did you have?
[0:14:00.6] JS: At Doc’s, I think we did three or four. I can’t remember.
[0:14:02.5] KM: That’s what I think.
[0:14:03.8] JS: We’d get a different band each time, or a couple of bands. Eventually we started renting the kitchen at Christ Episcopal Church at 6th and Scott Street. We did some other format fundraisers. We would do a movie and a dinner night.
[0:14:19.2] KM: Did you get enough money at these fundraisers and at Christ Church? Did you make enough money to start a business, or did you have to go out and get some – a loan on top of that?
[0:14:31.9] JS: We ended up borrowing $10,000.
[0:14:34.3] KM: That's nothing.
[0:14:35.8] JS: Yeah, it wasn't much, but that was mainly for the Vent-A-Hood, to get a Vent-A-Hood installed. Not all of the fundraisers were that successful monetarily, but we did – if they didn't raise a lot of money, then we considered them friendraisers. It was a way to build our e-mail list and it was a way to get the message out that we were working on opening a local foods café.
[0:15:00.2] KM: You've raised your money. Now you've got to pick out a location.
[0:15:02.9] JS: People knew that we were looking for a space. For a long time, we had our sights set on 7th Street Tattoos, the space –
[0:15:11.4] KM: Oh, that would’ve been by me. I don't like that down there.
[0:15:13.3] JS: Well, the trailer would be really close. We were talking to them. They were building that new space they were in and they were looking to sublet the old space, because they wanted to make sure that a new tattoo parlor didn't go in behind them and take all their business. They were going to sublet to us.
For one reason or another, that didn't work out in the end. Then a friend of ours who was doing some construction for Anita Davis down in the South Main neighborhood, he got in touch and he said, “Hey, I know you all are looking for a space. Anita is redoing this building that used to be the Sweden Crème. You guys should come down and take a look at it.”
It was one of those things. I mean, we had looked at probably 20 different locations, or maybe more. When we pulled up there to look at the Sweden Crème, we just instantly knew that this was –
[0:16:02.0] KM: That was it.
[0:16:02.6] JS: - the place.
[0:16:03.4] KM: Well, it is. It absolutely –
[0:16:04.4] JS: Felt right.
[0:16:05.1] KM: - is across from the corner store. It's next to the Esse Museum.
[0:16:10.3] JS: Right. We've got Boulevard right there at the corner.
[0:16:12.7] KM: Oh, that’s right.
[0:16:13.9] JS: Right. Yeah, there's great stuff going on. I think obviously, Anita deserves a ton of credit for having that vision early on. She was really just a philanthropic developer. She brought businesses in that she thought would be good for the neighborhood and the community. In a lot of cases, would offer really great deals on rent for the first year to help them get going. I mean, another incredible thing about the Anita Davis story is that she really saw a food establishment as an important thing to the community there.
[0:16:52.3] KM: To South on Main.
[0:16:53.4] JS: She had helped Boulevard get their bake house in that space.
[0:16:58.1] KM: No, I didn’t know that.
[0:16:59.6] JS: Yeah. I mean, she helped them, some with finishing out the building, I think. I don't know to what degree. For us, once we had signed the lease, she was still doing some of the finishing construction and she said, “Let me know where you want outlets, where you want plumbing, where you want things like that.” She had put in a grease trap, so that it would be more attractive to the restaurant.
[0:17:23.1] KM: She is such a philanthropist.
[0:17:25.0] JS: It's incredible.
[0:17:26.0] KM: She built Bernice Garden.
[0:17:27.3] JS: That's right. Yeah. I heard she came down –
[0:17:30.4] KM: From heaven?
[0:17:31.1] JS: - from her from the sky on a golden chariot.
[0:17:32.3] KM: Yeah, I think that might be right. I think that’s probably actually where she came from.
[0:17:35.9] JS: Yeah. Then eventually, Scott McGee, he's a mentor in a lot of ways and he came and took a look at the space and he was going to give us some recommendations, or just give us his feedback on everything. He walked in. At that point, we had tables and chairs and we had a stove and an oven and an espresso machine and stuff like that. We felt there were all these things that we had to get perfect before we opened. He walked in and he like, “This looks great. Y'all are ready to open. Y'all should open next week.” We were like, “Oh.”
[0:18:10.4] KM: Oh, my gosh.
[0:18:11.4] JS: I realized that there was a point where we really had to just bite the bullet and open.
[0:18:16.4] KM: Put your money where your mouth is.
[0:18:18.3] JS: Then that next year during that fall, we put in the grant application with Chase Bank for Mission Main Street. We found out a little bit after that that we received that larger grant for a $150,000. That was to do that expansion that the MBAs had recommended, the dinner expansion. Mission Main Street grants are specifically for businesses.
You have to be a business that has a social community building Mission. They were looking for things, like local sourcing, or hiring minority employees, just lots of ways that businesses were giving back to the community. You had to have been in business for at least two years. There were a few other requirements, but when I read it I thought, “Gosh, that really fits with what we do.”
[0:19:05.1] Announcer: That's what the whole SoMa neighborhood is about, doing things for the people in this vibrant community. Another contributor to that vibrancy is Sally Mengel from Loblolly Ice Cream.
[0:19:16.6] KM: I've got to ask Sally about the name. I've always wondered since I heard it. Loblolly. Where did you get that name?
[0:19:24.8] SM: Well, do you know what the state tree is? It's a Loblolly pine tree. I actually remember, I was at Vino's with my friends and I was trying to come up with a name for my ice cream business. I told my friends, “If anyone can come up with a name, I'll give you ice cream for life.”
I was trying to come up with a name that related to Arkansas, because we tried to use local seasonal ingredients, so and Arkansas flavors, southern flavors. I wanted something whimsical and fun and funny to say. We were just looking up Arkansas stuff. Someone was looking at the state things, what the bird was and what the –
[0:20:09.3] KM: What's the bird?
[0:20:10.3] SM: It starts with an M.
[0:20:12.5] KM: Mockingbird?
[0:20:12.9] SM: Mockingbird. Okay. Yeah. Then apple blossom, I think is the flower. Diamond.
[0:20:19.1] KM: We know the diamond.
[0:20:20.0] SM: Yes. Yes, we do. Yes.
[0:20:21.8] KM: That’s because I sell flags and it's on the flag, but go ahead.
[0:20:25.2] SM: Yeah. Someone said, “Oh, a Loblolly pine tree.” I thought, Loblolly was a fun name. Sounds like you have a mouthful of food when you say it. It's a tongue twisters. I enjoy people having a hard time saying it, because it's just fun. It doesn't need – It's not serious. It's ice cream. We're not making –
[0:20:42.3] KM: You’re not doing brain surgery.
[0:20:43.2] SM: No brain surgery. No aircrafts. No spaceships. Just ice cream.
[0:20:48.1] KM: No one really thought about that name when they say it. I never really knew what it meant. Like you said, I just thought, “Boy, that's a fun name, Loblolly, and I can say it.” You decided that you were going to start selling something you love.
[0:21:00.7] SM: Yeah, yeah. Mine was an accident actually. I was working at the green corner store at the time. Shelley Green the owner and Anita Davis the landlord, got all these period piece fixtures from the store. The store if you go, it has all these old pharmacy and soda fountain fixtures, beautiful pieces, which the store used to be a pharmacy from 1906 to 1967. Shelley gave me the opportunity to start a soda fountain. I've worked in food service, owned a coffee cart on campus, worked at an ice cream store. She gave me that opportunity and I wanted to make everything from scratch, the soda syrups and the ice cream, so I started that.
[0:21:37.6] KM: Did you start with the small business incubator in Trinity Cathedral? Is that where you started making – what kitchen looks it is.
[0:21:42.6] SM: Yeah, yeah. We used Trinity to make our ice cream. Yeah. That was really nice to have.
[0:21:45.4] KM: I remember that actually.
[0:21:47.0] SM: Yeah, it was a great opportunity. We were with Kent Walker Cheese, a pie company and a soup company at the time.
[0:21:53.6] KM: Sally, you went from two employees because you have a co-founder with you.
[0:21:57.2] SM: The co-founder is Rachel Moore. She just helped me start the business, but now my mom and me own it together.
[0:22:03.6] KM: Oh, I see. Now you have 10 employees.
[0:22:06.8] SM: 13. It’s fun.
[0:22:08.1] KM: The process of making ice cream is tedious. Are you still making it yourself?
[0:22:12.8] SM: Well, actually I started making it, then I stopped and now I'm back in it.
[0:22:17.2] KM: Why'd you go back to it? Because you didn't like the way they did it?
[0:22:20.2] SM: No, that's not why.
[0:22:21.6] KM: Do you love making it?
[0:22:22.7] SM: I could afford now to go back.
[0:22:25.0] KM: Oh, I love that. That's what you like to do is make ice cream.
[0:22:28.5] SM: I like ice cream. Take to sample it. Well, it's the creativity. You want to be part of the creativity.
[0:22:38.2] KM: I got you. Is work ruining your passions?
[0:22:46.1] SM: I don't have any hobbies. I need to get out there. Also, I look at ice cream not as other people do. The they use it for – I use it for celebration, but I see it as a work. I really want to hone my craft and make it the best it can be.
[0:23:03.6] KM: Sally, I think you just explained this to me. What is your philosophy, your business philosophy and your business model?
[0:23:12.3] SM: Oh, I'm still trying to figure all of that out. I think my business philosophy –
[0:23:17.3] KM: I wish they could see your eyes. You had the biggest eyes on that.
[0:23:19.6] SM: I know. It's like, what's the secret to life question? I haven't figured it out. I think, my business philosophy, we say this a lot at Loblolly. It's communication, teamwork, respect and accountability. That's for my team philosophy. It's a work in progress every day for our team, because it's like, you're building a culture and a community in itself. Also for my business philosophy is to – you're part of community, so be a steward of the community. I love to partner with people and do fun collaborations and give back to nonprofits.
What we do is we make an ice cream flavor for that nonprofit and make a portion of that sale, of that flavor that we co-create with the nonprofit, goes back to them. Be part of the community. Then my – what was the last – not the philosophy, but the –
[0:24:11.1] KM: Business model.
[0:24:12.2] SM: Model. I say yes to everything, but I don't think that's a good idea.
[0:24:17.2] KM: Oh, I think that's an excellent idea.
[0:24:19.1] SM: Yeah, that's how I got to do all these things as I just said yes.
[0:24:22.7] KM: Somebody just wrote a book like that and Oprah put it on the bestseller. I think it’s –
[0:24:27.9] SM: You never know what opportunities you're going to get. Everything is PR and everything – you never know by talking to this one customer, how they're going to become a loyal customer.
[0:24:38.5] Announcer: There it is again, serving the community. As all the businesses in the SoMa district do. Next up, the reason that this attitude makes a difference in the city, from Hank Kelley. Back in a minute.
[0:24:53.4] GM: You're listening to Up In your Business with Kerry McCoy, a production of flagandbanner.com. Over 40 years ago with only $400, Kerry founded Arkansas Flag and Banner. During the last four decades, the business has grown and changed. Over this time, Kerry’s business and leadership knowledge has grown. As early as 2004, she began sharing her knowledge in her weekly blog. In 2009, she founded the nonprofit Friends of Dreamland Ballroom, and in 2014, Brave Magazine, a biannual publication.
Today, she has branched out into podcasts, including this radio show. Each week, you'll hear candid conversations between her and her guests about real-world experiences on a variety of businesses and topics that we hope you'll find interesting and inspiring.
Stay up to date by going to flagandbanner.com and joining our e-mailing list. You'll receive our popular water cooler weekly e-blast that notifies you of our upcoming guests, happenings at Dreamland Ballroom, sales at flagandbanner.com, access to Brave Magazine articles and Kerry’s current blog post. All that in one weekly e-mail, telling American-made stories, selling American-made flags, the flagandbanner.com.
[0:26:04.1] Announcer: Up now on Up In your Business with Kerry McCoy, a rundown of points that have been published that actually contribute to the vibrancy of a city. Little Rock has many of these. Here's Hank Kelley.
[0:26:17.4] KM: Which one you want to start with? I wrote them down in case you need help.
[0:26:19.3] HK: Okay. Well, I've got them.
[0:26:21.0] KM: Okay, good.
[0:26:21.9] HK: First, people work together on practical, local possibilities, rather than allowing bitter disagreements about national politics to keep them apart. That's so important. If we get on opposite poles, because one of us is red and one of us is blue and we can't go solve the school district issue, what good does that do, if we're apart and not willing to work together, to make our local place a better home? We don't take the time to listen to a different point of view.
[0:27:04.0] KM: A local view. To take care of local stuff.
[0:27:06.0] HK: A local view. The importance of diversity, if you surround yourself with people that look like you and think like you, you never grow. You just hear the same conversations over and over and over.
[0:27:22.4] KM: Which brings me to another one of the 11, inclusive and open to attracting new types of people.
[0:27:31.6] HK: If you don't have the ability to just spend all of your life traveling and meeting people, it's just necessary to open your heart and your mind to someone that's different than you and live through them, live through their travel experiences, live through the experiences they have had as a Jewish person, or as a Hindu, or as a Christian, or as an African-American. Don't limit your knowledge to just what you know.
[0:28:01.9] KM: The more you're exposed to, the more you grow. You’re a cheerleader for here. You really are a city cheerleader.
[0:28:07.3] HK: Thank you.
[0:28:07.9] KM: I think city pride is important. I think that's what Frank Scott's trying to do is really bring up city pride. I thought it was interesting that they had three conversations about schools; a research university, an innovative and unusual school and a reputable community college to fill the inequality gap. We had all three we have all three of those.
[0:28:31.7] HK: We have all three of them. That's the beauty of this book is if you read the book and you compare the other cities and towns that he talks about and their assets and their challenges and you compare Little Rock to that, we have the solution to nearly every one of his 10 and a half, or 11 points. The schools that we have available to us, including a variety –
[0:29:00.9] KM: Of good variety.
[0:29:03.1] HK: Of both private, public schools at the high school level. Then you go to the college level and you've got UA Little Rock, which is a research university. That's one of the key ingredients.
[0:29:16.3] KM: Yes, a research university brings new students, professors, smart people. It's akin to having a river or a harbor was once to a community.
[0:29:25.5] HK: It's the flow of intelligent people.
[0:29:27.7] KM: It's the flow of intelligent people.
[0:29:30.6] HK: Then you have Pulaski Technical College, which is a fabulous two-year institution that prepares people to either go into workforce directly, or go on and finish a four-year degree.
[0:29:43.9] KM: It's the inequality gap for the people that can't do the four-year, that need to be working faster in two years. It's a good one, because there are some community colleges that are not very reputable. Ours is extremely reputable.
[0:29:58.0] HK: You also have other community colleges that support the UA system that in and around Central Arkansas that can actually interact with UA Little Rock.
[0:30:11.5] KM: I thought this one was interesting, which I've never thought of. An innovative unusual school. If that's not the Clinton School of Public Service, I don't know what is.
[0:30:20.2] HK: Or you look at the East End schools, they're very innovative. The latest East End school is down on Shell Street, right by Heifer International. They're educating kids at a very high-level at this point. It's a great system. Our fellow Rotarian, Mike Poore is giving his heart and soul to the school district. I believe he's got many choices of places he could be and I'm thankful that he's here now.
[0:30:47.8] KM: That's nice. Of course, everyone knows this one, a great downtown.
[0:30:51.8] HK: Great downtown. We're so lucky in Little Rock, relative to the size of our community, we have a 40-story building downtown that we're involved with. We also have the River Market area and we have SoMa. We have so many entertainment areas to go to. I was speaking to one of our fellow Rotarians that lives just on the other side of SoMa and he talked about how nice it is to leave his home, walk to a number of restaurants that are just within two or three blocks at most from his home. People that live in 303rd River Market Tower regularly walk out of their condominiums, walk to restaurants, like Samantha's, like Bruno’s. I love Flyway Brewery over in North Little Rock. It's just a fabulous setting. It's just –
[0:31:41.1] KM: Yeah, the Argenta District in –
[0:31:42.8] HK: The Argenta District is on fire.
[0:31:44.6] KM: I know. Speaking of breweries, Craft Brewery was actually one of the 11 things that –
[0:31:52.3] HK: It’s the half. It’s the half.
[0:31:53.8] KM: It’s the half.
[0:31:54.4] HK: It’s the half.
[0:31:54.8] KM: I know you were going to say it was the Craft Brewery.
[0:31:56.8] HK: James Fallows says and I believe, it's a great indicator of the spirit of your community. If you have breweries and distilleries, not that we're promoting excessive drinking, but what they show is that there's enough support among the younger people that love to have fresh brew, homemade brew.
[0:32:20.0] KM: Yeah, they go out and spend money.
[0:32:22.1] HK: That determinant, he says is direct.
[0:32:25.5] KM: Well, they also are the next people coming up. If you don't have the young people, your community is going to be dying.
[0:32:29.8] HK: That's right.
[0:32:30.6] ANNOUNCER: Finally, we visit again with Anita Davis and a thought about the neighborhood South on Main Street in Downtown Little Rock known as SoMa.
[0:32:39.2] KM: I've heard you call this End of South Main, the feminine area of Little Rock.
[0:32:43.0] AD: Yes, because I feel it's a warm and friendly place and it is something that has –this whole area has suffered and I feel it is a part that really is in need of nurturing. A woman is a nurturer usually.
[0:33:07.0] KM: Can’t help it. We can’t help it.
[0:33:08.2] AD: No.
[0:33:09.3] KM: If it's broken, we'll fix it.
[0:33:10.9] AD: Try to anyway.
[0:33:11.9] KM: We’ll try to anyway. What's next? I know you got something next. Don't tell me you don't, because I know you do. Look, she's not want to know if she's going to tell us or not.
[0:33:22.1] AD: It’s to be continued.
[0:33:24.4] KM: What do you want your legacy to be?
[0:33:27.7] AD: I don't really even like thinking about my legacy. It's you live your life and then other people can figure out what it is that was important.
[0:33:36.9] KM: Thank you so much for coming on.
[0:33:38.4] AD: Thank you so much, Kerry. It’s fun to tell your story.
[0:33:41.1] KM: It was great to hear your story. Man, oh, man. You're an inspiration to all of us.
For those listeners who might have a great entrepreneurial story they'd like to share, send a brief bio and your contact info to me, Kerry@flagandbanner.com and someone will be in touch. To all, thank you for spending time with us. We hope you've heard or learned something that's been inspiring or enlightening, and that it whatever it is will help you up your business, your independence, or your life.
I'm Kerry McCoy and I'll see you next time on Up In your Business. Until then, be brave and keep it up.
[END OF INTERVIEW]
[0:34:14.6] GM: You've been listening to Up In your Business with Kerry McCoy. All interviews are recorded and posted the following week. Subscribe to podcasts wherever you like to listen. Kerry’s goal is simple, to help you live the American dream.
Up In Your Business is a Radio Show by FlagandBanner.com