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Western North Carolina’s Source for Weekly News, Entertainment, Arts, and Outdoor Information

October 12-18, 2016 Vol. 18 Iss. 20

Liberty group protests campus speech restrictions Page 24 FBI investigating tribal housing authority Page 32


WOMEN IN BUSINESS 2016

WOMEN IN BUSINESS 2016 Farmer’s daughter finds life purpose in family business

A family takes a hayride around Darnell Farms in Bryson City. Jessi Stone photo

BY J ESSI STONE N EWS E DITOR t may be mostly men tending to the crops these days at Darnell Farms, but it’s Afton Roberts who has turned the farm into a thriving agri-tourism business in Swain County. Of course locals and visitors stop by for the fresh and homegrown produce — strawberries and apples are their mainstay — but they stay for the hospitality, hayrides, history lessons and the entire family farm experience. “I have a woman’s eye for this stuff,” Roberts said, pointing toward the colorful fall decorations and carefully placed apples and pumpkins. “I have to keep things looking good and focus on the retail side of things just as much as the commercial side.”

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FREE-RANGE CHILDREN As the daughter of Jeff Darnell, who has operated Darnell Farms along the Tuckasegee River since 1981, Roberts and her brother Nat grew up on the farm. With plenty of room to roam and always dirty from head to toe, Roberts likes to say they were “free-range children.” She admits it wasn’t a childhood she always appreciated when growing up, especially when most of her friends were at the pool enjoying summer vacations while she was at the family farm. But now that she’s grown and has a stake in the business, she’s thankful for everything it has taught her. “We were born into it and we’re very proud. We call it our oasis. Maybe I wouldn’t have said that when I was 15,” Roberts joked. “But it taught us good work ethic and we’ve dedicated ourselves to making sure people enjoy themselves when they come here.”

EARNING RESPECT

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Even at the young age of 24, Roberts is not hesitant to do things her way on the farm or give orders when needed. She exudes confidence and feels at ease with anyone she comes into contact with, which she chalks up to a good upbringing. Her father strongly believes that women need to have a strong presence in the farming industry to keep it going.

“He’s always preached women need to run the agriculture business and not in a housewives kind of way — men know a good deal but women know good quality,” Roberts said. “He says the good old boy industry needs to be taken over by women to keep it going.” Of course that’s easier said than done. It’s still a maledominated field and Roberts still works hard to earn respect from the older generation of growers and buyers. “Respect is a hard thing to earn. I still have people that have a hard time when I talk to them about pricing and they say, ‘you don’t know what you’re talking about,’” she said. “People don’t want to take direction from a woman — that happens everywhere — but I think it’s more than me being a woman. It’s my age too. It’s hard for some people to respect young people in agriculture and the change that comes with progress.”

Darnell Farms 2300 Governors Island Rd., Bryson City 828.488.2376 Visit www.facebook.com/darnellfarm for upcoming events at the farm. The farm produces nearly 100 acres of strawberries, onions, tomatoes, sweet corn, peppers, blackberries and more.

ROAD LESS TRAVELED While Roberts has settled into her lead role on the farm, it hasn’t always been the path she thought her life would take. She also didn’t think she’d be one to get married when she was 18 and have two kids so young, but if she’s learned anything on the farm, it’s that sometimes life has other plans. “I tried to break away from the farm at one time, but I realized I was good at it. I love it and I have a passion for it just like my dad,” she said. And now she and her husband Patrick Roberts, who also works on the farm, can pass along that upbringing to their girls in hopes they’ll want to take over the business someday. But even if they don’t, just knowing they’ll have a deeper appreciation for farming and being good stewards of the land is enough satisfaction for them. Even though she loves the work, managing a farm isn’t easy. It’s more of a way of life than it is a job. Roberts works many 14-hour days and probably hasn’t had a day off in a month. She wishes she had more quality time to spend with her kids and husband, but the good still outweighs the bad. “My kids are watching me be a part of something and hopefully they see I’m trying to make something work for their future and I want them to be a part of it,” she said. Even on the tough days, Roberts knows she’s exactly where she’s supposed to be.


WOMEN IN BUSINESS 2016

Heidi Roberts, 4, explores the strawberry fields at her family’s farm. Donated photo “Most people my age are barely out of college and they don’t know what they want to do. I’m glad I know what I want to do and I have a lot of room to grow,” she said. “I don’t have a college education, but I have used this farm to culture and educate me. It’s pushed me farther than any kind of curriculum could have.” When asked which woman in history inspires her the most, Roberts was quick to say Sacagawea — a Shoshone interpreter who helped Lewis and Clark on their expedition out West after the Louisiana Purchase. “She was a leader. Every time I think about her being so young and with a baby on her back — it reminds me of me,” Roberts said. “But it also reminds me to not let anyone tell you you can’t do anything — you lead the pack.” Roberts also gives credit to her mother, who died of cancer several years ago, and a former boss at Brio Tuscan Grille in Cherokee, for teaching her important life lessons. “My boss in Cherokee was an amazing woman. She only stood five-feet tall, but she was full of confidence,” Roberts recalled. “She didn’t take no for an answer and I respected her and others who don’t let themselves be overpowered because they don’t look the part.”

PRESERVING PAST AND PRESENT Roberts feels like the progress being made in the industry and at Darnell Farms has been nothing but positive. She says she has a knack for merchandising and knowing what people want to experience and buy when they come to the

Afton Roberts poses with her dad Jeff Darnell, owner of Darnell Farms since 1981. Jessi Stone photo farm. Special events and attractions like weddings, concerts, outdoor movies, corn mazes, the annual Strawberry Jam Festival and more keep the business thriving throughout the year. “We’re more and more influenced by tourism here and we’re entertainers just as much as we are farmers,” Roberts said. “We like to see people have a good time — so much so that we used to not even charge for hayrides.” Roberts goes out of her way to make sure her guests walk away with a good experience. Nothing pleases her more than positive reviews and shared pictures on the Darnell Farms facebook page or a comment from visitors about how great the farm looks. She also believes in taking care of her employees and thanking them for a job well done to let them know they are appreciated. For her, praise is just as important as constructive criticism. “Women are better at that,” she said. “People say women are too sensitive or insult you by saying you act like a woman, but being sensitive doesn’t mean you’re being a baby — it just means I care.” It’s that type of pride and appreciation that she hopes to pass down to her two daughters Heidi, 4, and Alexis, 6. As second-generation free-range children, Roberts’ daughters have taken to farm life quite well. They love giving visitors tours of the farm and retelling the history stories they’ve heard their mom, brother and grandfather tell hundreds of times. While Roberts is looking toward the future, she has an immense respect and appreciation for her family’s roots and her hometown’s heritage. She said the

old-time mountain women have endless knowledge and wisdom to pass along to those who will listen. They knew how to grow, how to preserve and how to live off the land. “People have the idea that we’re back-

woods and uncultured, but really people from this area were smart survivalists — especially women,” Roberts said. “They overcame a lot and saved everything. They were true conservationists and we can learn a lot from them.”

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WOMEN IN BUSINESS 2016 6

Stepping out on faith at Sylva’s Sassy Frass BY CORY VAILLANCOURT STAFF WRITER Originally from Jackson, Tennessee. Tammy Fuller moved to Sylva seven years ago. Four years after that she opened Sassy Frass Consignment on West Main Street, which will celebrate its third anniversary on Halloween. But while looking back over the successful beginnings of her first business venture ever, Fuller still remembers why she gave up the security of a steady income for the crapshoot that owning a small business can often be. “The Lord,” she said. “Back in Jackson (Tennessee) I used to be in pharmaceutical sales. It was hard to find a job here in Sylva, and I’ve always loved interior design, and loved decorating.” Fuller admits to being frugal with her money, so she’d go thrift shopping or consignment shopping, and quickly realized that Sylva didn’t have anything similar to offer. “I felt the Lord was nudging me to go out and step out on faith,” she said. She reluctantly accepted the nudge, but not without reservations. “Really to be honest with you, I didn’t want to do it, and I thought really hard on it because my husband was in his own business as well, and that’d be both of us stepping out on faith,” she said. “I was used to a paycheck, so it was totally a step of faith, but once I said yes, it was crazy.” It was crazy, she said, in that people were already clamoring to help stock her store before she even had a store to stock. “Before I even had this building, Miss Judy Shuler from Kim Preston Real Estate called me and said, ‘I’ve got a whole house of furniture for you.’ I was like, ‘I don’t even have a building — I don’t have anything! What am I going to do?’ and she said, ‘I don’t know, you just need to say yes and take it.’” Take it Fuller did, and with that opened the only furniture consignment store in the area. There’s a children’s consignment store in Franklin, Fuller said, but the next closest place to shop for similar items is in Waynesville. Her store is an eclectic-yet-sensible mix of mostly bedroom, living room and dining room furniture that Fuller herself curates, thus imparting a touch of her own personal style to the collection. “Me personally, I’m more of a French provincial, vintage type girl. But I’ve got a little bit of variety in the store here — I’ve got a few new pieces, but most of it is going to be old antiques, and that’s what I like to do,” she said. “My house is filled with different parts from the 1800s to today. I might have a new piece or two, but I like to mix all those years to bring it all together.” Common housewares are also well represented; china sets, lamps and all manner of artwork are displayed neatly throughout the two-floor establishment. Fuller used to create and construct her own pieces, but now mostly relies on her 700-plus roster of consigners to bring her old, new or interesting items. “We’ve got so many consigners, I have to take only so many appointments per day, and we’re booked for months,” said Fuller. Additionally, some furniture vendors bring her new

Just some of the eclectic wares at Sassy Frass Consignment. Cory Vaillancourt photo furnishings — especially couches, about which Fuller says she is “picky” about accepting on consignment — and almost 30 different booth vendors round out the 12,000square-foot building with funky, eccentric and traditional items of their own. “That’s all individual people that come in and do their own thing,” she said. “We try to get a variety of all of it.” Word of Fuller’s business has spread beyond just Sylva, but she’s not planning on moving anywhere else, any time soon. “I love Sylva. I could branch out to other places, but that was my thing — I would shop in other places, but they didn’t have one here,” she said. And why would she need to move? Much like other Sylva businesses experiencing a recent surge in visitors, Fuller doesn’t need to expand as long as customers keep coming to her. “We have an incredible business and that’s nothing but the hand of the Lord in it,” said Fuller. “We have peo-

Tammy Fuller, owner of Sassy Frass Consignment. Donated photo

ple driving in from like three hours, it’s crazy. It’s crazy to hear that they literally just come to shop at Sassy Frass.” Despite Fuller’s successes, female business owners like her are still nowhere near their male counterparts in terms of both representation, and revenues. According to the National Association of Women Business Owners, women-owned firms make up just 31 percent of all privately held businesses and account for only 12 percent of revenues. While Fuller doesn’t think she’s had a harder time as a small part of that 31 percent, she still falls back on her faith to help her make it through the challenges any business owner faces. “I’ve never done this before, so I don’t know if it’s any different for a man than for a woman,” she said. “But I can tell you, it hasn’t been easy the whole entire time — it’s definitely been a journey with the Lord. It’s been valleys and it’s been mountaintops. I’ve had some really, really low times when I’ve cried out to the Lord begging for His help, and then I’ve had some mountaintop experiences where there’s nothing better.” Her advice for like-minded women who may also be thinking about stepping out on faith is just as sage. “If the Lord is telling you to do it, then of course he’s going to make the way, and that’s the way I feel about this business,” said Fuller. “When I first started, I had some people saying, ‘I don’t know that you’re going to make it,’ and others saying ‘Oh, you’ll do great,’ and I’m like, ‘Which one’s it going to be?’” “But I really feel like if the Lord directs me and He’s telling me ‘This is what you need to do,’ I feel like this is His business and this is His place. So what I do is I just say, ‘Lord, it’s yours. If you want me to continue and to prosper, that’s great. And if you want to shut the doors, it’s your place to shut it down. We have that kind of relationship, so I would tell any woman if she’s feeling that this is what she wants to do and this is in her heart and this is what she feels like the Lord’s prompting her to do, I would say ‘Go, be bold, and be brave, and take that step of faith.’”


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WOMEN IN BUSINESS 2016

After graduation from Harvard Divinity School in 2008, Stephany knew she wanted to come home to her community to give back. Pink Regalia was founded in the summer of 2010 to care for the needs of postbreast surgery women. It was Stephany’s mission to create a space that was positive, empowering and met real needs of the women that graced her door. With the same mission Pink Regalia has grown it’s customer base to include ALL women not just those who have undergone breast surgery and has grown to two locations. Stephany is always looking for new products to better serve the women in her community. Stop by just to find out what their tagline “An Enlightening Bra Shopping Experience.” Is all about! You may see Stephany or one of her two amazing Fitters: Crystal-in Waynesville or Kimberly- in Asheville. Regardless, Stephany’s mission of making a difference and giving back is coming true with each bra fit.

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WOMEN IN BUSINESS 2016

Books Unlimited opened in December, 1983 beside the Macon Co Court House. Later, it moved to Westgate Plaza. In 1997 we moved to our current location on Main St. in downtown Franklin. Books Unlimited is a full service independent book store. We have new and used books, maps, calendars, and offer out of print searches. I managed Books Unlimited for 13 years, and then purchased it in June, 2003.

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Books Unlimited featured a unique children’s section. Due to my lack of restraint when I order children’s books, we quickly ran out of space. In July, 2016, we opened Unlimited Books for Kids. It is located at 70 E. Main St., just two doors down from Books Unlimited. This is a wonderful change! We have more space, a window to decorate, and a store dedicated to children from ages 0 to 12. Not just limited to books, we offer games, toys, greeting cards, and a chalkboard to display your artwork. We will create a Mommy-to-Be Registry where you can place all the books you’d like your child to read, including out of print titles.

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Kim’s Pharmacy was established in February 2008

by Kim Ferguson, a graduate of University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Pharmacy. After completing her degree in 1990, Kim returned to her hometown to serve her community as a pharmacist. She is a lifelong resident of Waynesville and has deep roots in the community. Kim is also actively involved with Altrusa of Waynesville, DSS Christmas and Foster Child Program, and Relay for life. Kim’s Pharmacy is proud to have been selected favorite pharmacy by the readers of The Mountaineer 6 years running and is grateful to the residents of Haywood County for patronizing an independent pharmacy in this age of big box chain stores. Kim’s Pharmacy is honored to have been selected 2013 Business of the Year by the Haywood Chamber of Commerce. As the only compounding pharmacy west of Asheville, the pharmacy’s patients range from newborns to geriatrics and everything in between. It does a lot of compounding for vets in the area, and the animal patients range from cats, to dogs, to horses and squirrels.

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BY J ESSI STONE N EWS E DITOR manda James Shaw never expected she’d be back in her hometown of Franklin running the family business, especially a power tool business. As she sits in her office with the scent of essential oils drifting through the air — tucked away from the noisy showroom and the sounds of power tools being repaired in the maintenance garage — Amanda tells the story of how she found herself in charge of Macon Rental Company. Her parents, Tom and Betsy James, started the small power tool rental business in 1979. Though Amanda grew up around the business — mostly sweeping floors and other light work around the shop — she definitely didn’t know how to start a chainsaw. Today she can tell which one is best for your needs and she can also show you how to operate it. “I grew up around the equipment, but yeah, I couldn’t tell you how to use the log splitter by any means,” Amanda said. “None of it was second nature to me but you learn and adapt.” She graduated from Franklin High School and earned a business degree at Brevard College. During college she worked for a company that ended up sending her to Charlotte to work after

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Amnda James Shaw, her husband Chris Shaw and their dogs all get to work together at the family business. Jessi Stone photos

graduation. While working in a large corporate setting in the big city, she met her husband Chris Shaw, who is originally from England. They found themselves at a major crossroads in dealing with immigration and marriage — do we stay in Charlotte or move to United Kingdom? “Dad suggested moving back here to take over the business. It’s the last thing we thought we would do — my husband is an engineer — but we both really like it,” Amanda said. The couple has been running the business for the last nine years now. Amanda’s business background and Chris’ engineer thinking have proved useful in their new endeavor. Amanda isn’t just behinds the scenes doing the books either — she’s on the sales floor selling equipment, helping customers and supporting her seven employees. The only thing she stays out of is the repair work — she leaves that for the experts. “Running a small business in general has tons of challenges — you want what’s best for the business and your employees and balancing all that is a huge challenge,” she said. And then there’s the added challenges of being a woman and trying to manage a business that has historically been managed by men. Nothing says masculinity like heavy-duty machinery. “When you work in a masculine environment, you feel the need to know how to talk shop — it’s a challenge but a rewarding challenge to learn about all the equipment,” Amanda said. “It also gives me an identify I felt I had lost here in the beginning and that was a worry I had, but now I’m the Macon County rental tool girl and that’s kind of exciting.” So aside from the typical business-minded qualities, what makes women good leaders in business? Amanda said women have the innate desire to be people pleasers, which makes women great at customer service and dealing with their employees. “Women are also born multi-taskers — to our detriment sometimes — but it’s a good thing in business,” she said. Continuing the legacy of the 40-year-old familyrun business is a responsibility that Amanda and Chris are taking seriously. Not only do they want to see it succeed, but they want to continue the legacy of great customer service as well. Continuing that success through the

Amanda James Shaw shows off the equipment available at her family-run business Macon Rental Company. recession was their biggest challenge to date. “My dad mostly did rentals and had some small equipment for sale, but when the economy took a downturn and people weren’t building as much, we had to look at ways to increase income,” Amanda said. “The way to do that is with repairs, sales and services.” Macon Rental Company always had a mechanic shop associated with their business but decided to bring in a full-time mechanics team under the same roof to work more tool repairs. They’ve made it

through the worst of it and business continues to pick up. Amanda also took on another job during the recession for extra money but has stayed with it for six years because of the more feminine outlet it gives her in a life surrounded by power tools and men. As an independent stylist with the direct sales company Stella & Dot, Amanda gets to make some money on the side and exercise her love of fashion and accessorizing. “The economy wasn’t great but also I started to feel like I was losing my femininity here and I needed something else to do,” she said. “In corporate business I was wearing a suit and heels every day, but here I could wear shorts and tennis shoes and then eventually I stopped wearing jewelry and then wouldn’t even put on lip gloss — and I’m not saying that’s all women but that’s just me. I kind of felt like I was losing myself in a very masculine environment.” After seeing Stella & Dot CEO Jessica Herrin speak on “The Today Show” about how she was helping women, Amanda felt inspired to join. Now she has a team of 15 stylists working under here and is one of the top 400 salespeople in the company. She even went to speak at a conference in Washington, D.C., last week about her experience. “It’s been extremely successful for me and it’s given me a girly outlet,” she said.

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Standards of care Rural animal care offers constant joy, constant challenge for vet clinic BY HOLLY KAYS STAFF WRITER t’s not unusual to hear a visiting veterinarian term Cherokee Animal Care Clinic an emergency day clinic, Dr. Robbie McLeod says as she takes a standing lunch break accompanied by a stethoscope, paperwork and a wiggly puppy in for its shots. Right on the edge of the Qualla Boundary, the Whittier clinic is really the only game in town for veterinary care without going to Sylva or Bryson City. “You never know what’s going to come through the door,” McLeod says. “Oh, that’s a dog attack, speaking of which,” says practice manager Kristee Kaye, as if on cue. Kaye walks out to the waiting room and comes back bearing a chubby Chihuahua that’s sporting a muzzle and a festering wound that immediately fills the

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room with a putrid odor. The attack had happened Monday or Tuesday, Kaye says, relaying the owner’s account — one or two days ago. The Chihuahua bit his owner afterward, explaining the muzzle. “Oh! This is rotten, rotten, rotten,” exclaims McLeod, inspecting the wound. “This is not Monday or Tuesday.” Last Monday or Tuesday, maybe — you don’t get that much necrosis or pus in the space of two days, she observes. “If this were July,” McLeod says, “there would be maggots in it.”

A HARD JOB Walk-ins like this are part of the reason that filling the veterinary void in the Cherokee area is such a hard job. In a rural region where dogs are often left to run free and the closest emergency vet clinic is half an hour away, the sprinkle of dog attacks and hit-by-cars and gunshot wounds is constant amid an already overbooked schedule of booster shots and sick animals. The “lunch” part of lunch break is usually a 10-minute affair, often done while standing, the rest of the time put to

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use catching up on backlog from the morning. “This is a highly emotional job,” McLeod said. “It’s not all puppies. There’s sad news and emergencies and death and dying and blood and puss and people. It wears you out. I think we’re all exhausted by the end of the day. I think most people don’t realize how hard of a job it is.” They start at 8 a.m. each morning and, ideally, finish by 5 p.m. each evening, but things rarely wrap up that early. McLeod’s rule is that if the client can get a hold of her before she leaves the office, she’ll stay and wait. “There have been nights when emergency surgeries have happened that we’ve been here at 1, 2, 3 in the morning,” Kaye said. “Last Friday we were here till 8 or 9 o’clock,” McLeod added. A cat was crashing, and a client brought in a goat that had been attacked by wild dogs. If she hadn’t stayed, the owner would have had to search for an emergency clinic open during the weekend, with the added challenge that goats are considered a large animal, and fewer vets work on those. “We try not to turn people away,” she said. There’s no denying that being a vet is hard work. But McLeod can’t imagine doing anything else. She’s been in practice for 18 years, starting out in the Raleigh area after graduating from N.C. State University’s veterinary school and then moving back toward family roots in Western North Carolina. She started work at Country Lane Animal Hospital in Clyde, where she’s still a part owner, but then an opportunity presented itself in Cherokee. McLeod had worked some at Cherokee Animal Care years before, when the then-owner was dealing with medical issues and needed someone to fill in — she’d grown to love the community. Then that doctor sold the practice to another doctor, who eventually closed it. The closure coincided with Kaye’s desire for a change of pace. For years, she’d run a showhorse farm in Cullowhee, where she raised national champion equines. McLeod was the vet. “We just became really close friends and this opportunity presented itself,” Kaye said. “We decided to take a jump, and I’m very proud of it.” Things started slowly when they opened in 2009 — they’d be excited to see 10 people in a day. These days.

Things stay busy, and both McLeod and Kaye say that having a solid team in place is the key to making it work.

A NEWLY FEMALE FIELD Looking through the list of employees who work with McLeod and Kaye, one pattern is apparent. With the exception of one part-time vets, every single employee is female. And, McLeod said, that’s not surprising. “Women are coming to dominate the veterinary industry,” she said. “All aspects of the veterinary industry are transitioning toward female domination.” Nationwide, 55.5 percent of vets in private practice are female, while 44.8 percent are male, according to 2015 statistics from the American Veterinary Medicine Association. In public and corporate employment, 52.2 percent are female and 47.8 percent are male. The ratio is likely to shift even more heavily toward women in the future. In 1970, only 11 percent of students enrolling in U.S. veterinary medical colleges were female, with the balance reaching 50-50 in the mid-1980s. As of 2013, however, enrollment was 78.6 percent female and 21.4 percent male, according to data from the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges. McLeod has a pretty good idea as to why that is. “I think women are willing more to work in what they love, even if they’re going to exist in a lower income level, as long as they’re able to provide for themselves and their families,” she said. “Men are driven by love for their careers but they’re also financially driven and they want higher salaries. That’s my personal opinion.” The other factor in that conversation, she said, is that men are often the primary breadwinner in the family, so they may feel more responsibility to gravitate toward the higher-paying job. There’s no arguing, however, that veterinary work pays a good bit less than other jobs requiring the same amount of education. It takes eight years to become either a veterinarian or a medical doctor, but treating humans pays about three times as much as treating animals. “You really have to love it to do it, because you don’t get in this for the money,” McLeod said. “You can’t do it for the money because you can be comfortable, but you’re not going to be rich.”


NAVIGATING FINANCES At Cherokee Animal Clinic, most of the clientele is far from rich. McLeod’s seen the other side of the coin, working in Raleigh where it wasn’t uncommon for peo-

ple to be pulling down $250,000 per year, but the less affluent landscape of Western North Carolina makes practicing here an inherently different experience. “We have to figure out, what are the minimum diagnostics we can do to try to help this animal and also stay

WOMEN IN BUSINESS 2016

Dr. Robbie McLeod and vet assistant Kaitlyn Lineberger examine a puppy. Holly Kays photo

within the client’s financial budget,” McLeod said. “I’ve been in clinics that basically if you don’t give them a blank check to run every test, they’re like, well, you probably just need to put your animal to sleep.” Part of McLeod’s job is guiding patients through that maze of decisions. Which tests are absolutely necessary? How much will to cost to heal the animal? Is the outcome guaranteed? What will the ongoing cost of medication be? In vet school, professors drilled in terms such as “minimum database” and “standards of care,” but in rural practice those words acquire different definitions. “Sometimes ‘standard of care’ is what the owner can afford,” McLeod said. “We have a Plan A and a Plan B and sometimes a Plan C, and estimates for them,” Kaye added. “We give them options.” Sometimes, no option is feasible. Then the animal might have to get put to sleep. Or, it might be added to the ranks of the many “rescue animals” attending the clinic. Like Picasso, for example, the purring black cat whose nose is crooked due to the multiple facial surgeries he underwent to recover from an accident. “We all have our own rescue animals,” McLeod said. It’s hard to watch, sometimes — the pain and the loss and the death, all placed in the context of long days and chaotic unpredictability. And McLeod admits that she’ll often think about her career path and if it ever could have gone another way. But she grew up watching Jack Hannah and Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom, dreaming of swimming with dolphins and petting lions, and when she tries to think about what other course she could have taken, she comes up empty. “I can’t think of anything else I could have ever done,” she said.

Health. Wellness. Relief. Dr. Tara Hogan, D.C. has been in practice as a chiropractor since May 2011 “Most days I feel like I have the best career in the world. I just love being able to help people in our community enjoy a better quality of life. “My advice to women just starting out in business is to stick with what you are truly inspired by and passionate about. Don't settle. You must know what you want and make it work. Believe in yourself. We all can accomplish so much more than we sometimes think is possible, especially when we prepare. The more we prepare, the luckier we get!”

In health & happiness, — Dr. Tara

Dr. Tara Hogan, D.C. • Dr. Michael Hogan, D.C.

270 N. Haywood St. • Waynesville In Haywood Square Next To The Music Box

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WOMEN IN BUSINESS 2016

Designing your dreams

Miss Judy on Target, 1938

When women take over the reins: Three generations of the Alexander family at Cataloochee Ranch. “Women run this place,” says Mary Coker, the current manager of Maggie Valley’s venerable Cataloochee Ranch. And she should know. When Mary’s grandparents, Tom and Judy Alexander, opened the first Cataloochee Ranch in 1933, it was her grandmother, affectionately known to both family and guests as “Miss Judy,” who took on the responsibility of creating the Ranch’s now-legendary tradition of hospitality. By the time of Tom Alexander’s death in 1972, the second generation of Alexander women and their husbands had assumed the day-to-day management of the Ranch. Today, under Mary’s third-generation management, her mother Judy “Juju” Coker still greets guests every day at breakfast, her aunt Alice Aumen is there to greet them at dinnertime, and both help out with

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other duties on a regular basis. Meanwhile, Mary’s sister Judy B. Sutton manages the barn and pitches in wherever else she’s needed. Although her duties had been taken over by her daughters (and ultimately by her granddaughters), Miss Judy continued

Ranch general manager Mary Coker with sister, Judy B. Sutton, manager of the Ranch barn.

to be a gracious hostess at the Ranch until her death in 1997. And, for the women of her family, she left some enduring footsteps to follow.

Cataloochee Ranch 119 Ranch Drive, Maggie Valley, NC (828)926-1401 www.CataloocheeRanch.com

An interior design project in Raleigh by Waynesville’s Kathryn Greeley. Donated photo BY GARRET K. WOODWARD STAFF WRITER The “wow” effect. “When we reveal a project to a client and they have that ‘wow’ expression on their face — that’s what we’re aiming for,” said Kathryn Greeley. As head interior designer for the Waynesville business of her Kathryn Greeley namesake, Greeley looks at every client as a clean slate to not only create, but also tailor a project to the exact needs and traits of the individual. “I’ve never wanted my design products to look like they were just rooms out of a furniture store,” she said. “Whether they’re commercial or residential, I want each project to reflect the client’s lifestyle, passions and travels. I don’t want any two of my projects to every just be alike, just like each client is different from the next.” Born and raised in Bryson City, Greeley was an only child, something she says provoked an imaginative mindset and personality at an early age that still holds true today. After she received her undergraduate and graduate degrees in interior design from Western Carolina University, Greeley kicked off her career with short stints in Sylva and Lake Junaluska. Eventually, she found herself on Haywood Street, where she has remained for the better

part of her 35-year career. “It’s about creating a space rather than just filling a room,” she said. “Whether it is a single room or an entire house, you need to understand your client. We have an extensive interview process to find the best ways to meet their needs, and we work side-by-side with them throughout the entire process.” And in her time, Greeley’s built a quality, word-of-mouth company, one where she’s now designing spaces for children and grandchildren of former clients.

“It’s about sharing knowledge and nurturing those passions, something I enjoy being an independent woman who was raised a mountain girl.” — Kathryn Greeley

“It makes me feel old,” she smiled and chuckled. “But, I’ve always felt the best source for a client is a good client, someone you can get to know and create a lifelong relationship with.” So, what does being in business for 35 years mean? “Thirty-five years means a lot of hard work and perseverance,” Greeley said. “I think as a woman — or anyone running a small business — you have to push ahead. It’s been a rollercoaster, where in my time I’ve

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BY GARRET K. WOODWARD STAFF WRITER It’s a constant flow. “All day people are coming in and out of the gallery, to wander the shop or simply to say hello,” said Elisa Holder. “It’s exciting to see what each day will bring, because each day is different — it’s never boring.” As the owner of Earthworks Gallery on Main Street in Waynesville, Holder stands Elisa Holder. at the helm of a beloved downtown business celebrating 25 years in operation. But, beyond the mere fact it’s one of the longest running spots on Main Street, what is just as important is the social haven the space has provided to the community for the last quarter century. “Our goal has always been to provide a place for people to breath, relax and hangout,” Holder said. “This one time, a little girl stood in the open doorway, she held her arms out, closed her eyes and inhaled, yelling down the street, ‘Mom, you got to come in here, it feels safe.’”

And that’s the main ingredient with Earthworks, which is creating a two-way street of conversation that is often lost or forgotten in a fast-paced modern world. It’s about grabbing a cup of coffee across the street and heading for the gallery, to stand and chat at the counter with faces you’re always happy to see, faces that show no judgment, rather they offer compassion and support for those who have reciprocated the same to them. “What’s wild is seeing the kids and grandkids of the customers that come in here — we’ve seen all of them grow up,” Holder said. “We’ll have people just randomly call us all the time, just to see how we’re doing and how life is.” Holder herself grew up in Thickety, just outside of Canton. After graduating from Pisgah High School, she raised a family with her late husband who worked for the mill. They relocated to Alabama for work, where Holder attended the University of North Alabama in Florence. After several years of wandering the Muscle Shoals area, Holder returned to Haywood County in 2004. “I missed the mountains and I wanted to come home,” she said. Behind the counter since then, Holder eventually took over the business from the gallery’s founder, Suzy Johnson. Within the gallery, there are 36 local and

“You’ve just got to have faith and hang on with everything you’ve got. There is a freedom to owning a small business, but that also comes with a lot of responsibility.” — Elisa Holder, Earthworks Gallery

seen recessions, interest rates at 18 percent, interest rates at zero, and so you change with the times, but also stay steady to your philosophy and ethics.” As a pillar of the Haywood County business sector, Greeley enjoys mentoring young women in the pursuit of their dreams. It’s a personal duty she takes seriously, and also encourages other to follow suit. “The community here has been very supportive of women in business,” she said. “There are all kinds of networking opportunities, with many of us mentoring these up-and-coming women. It’s

about sharing knowledge and nurturing those passions, something I enjoy being an independent woman who was raised a mountain girl.” And though she recently turned 65, Greeley feels like she’s just getting started. In 2011, she released her book, The Collected Tabletop, which has spurred her interested in a sequel. Until then, she continues to head out into the world each day, excited as day one to create and inspire, where her motto “collected, not decorated” holds true. “The creative mind never rests,” she said.

Celebrating 25 years, Earthworks Gallery in Waynesville specializes in local and regional artists. regional artists represented, with mediums ranging from photography to pottery, mixed media to painting, and beyond. “We look for artists that are stewards of the earth, and all of our artists are completely different,” Holder said. “But all are representative of the landscape, the people and culture of Western North Carolina.” In terms of being a small business owner, Holder will be the first to point out that “you need nerves of steel to do this.” “This is an up and down game,” she said. “We’re a very seasonal economy, and you’ve just got to have faith and hang on with everything you’ve got. There is a free-

dom to owning a small business, but that also comes with a lot of responsibility.” As she sits behind the counter at Earthworks again once recent morning, Holder’s face lights up when another familiar figure saunters in, coffee and conversation in hand. The same goes for those strangers yet to become quick acquaintances in the subsequent interaction. It’s that sense of community through art that keeps Holder coming back to the shop, turning the key and unlocking another day of creativity and friendship. “We’ve all got to support each other,” she said.

WOMEN IN BUSINESS 2016

Crossroads of art and community

WILD MARKET OPENED ON MAY 28, 2016 Owner Leslie Larsen has been active in the natural health industry for over 10 years now. She is currently on the board of directors for the Southeast Natural Products Association and a national educator for Terry Naturally. Offering organic, fair trade coffee roasted from Cherokee, fresh baked gluten free items from Asheville and honey from Haywood County. Leslie and Sam are looking forward to seeing Wild Market continue to grow as a community resource for natural health education, products and services in Haywood County. When asked what advice she would give to women just starting out in business, Leslie said, “Believe in yourself. There will never be a perfect time. If you have a dream or passion in your heart, then believe in yourself and take the leap. JUMP! Build your wings on the way down … you will soar!”

Open Monday-Saturday 10-6 | Market Square, Maggie Valley 828-944-0724 Wild-Market.com

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WOMEN IN BUSINESS 2016 14

Passion for fashion Miss Diva moves to Main Street BY J ESSI STONE N EWS E DITOR Sarah Miller has a glowing personality and limitless energy when it comes to pursuing her passion. Her business — Diva’s on Main in downtown Franklin — is a seamless extension of her individuality and drive. Gorgeous formal gowns are arranged by color and hang flawlessly from high ceilings in the historic building and classic jewelry adorns the display cases on each side of the boutique. Miller greets everyone with a welcoming smile as they come in off the street and has a way of making them feel right at home. It’s not unusual for her to offer you a refreshing drink or to have fresh out-of-the-oven baked cookies waiting on the table for you. She’s usually wearing something eye-catching from her own collection and her hair and makeup are always on point. It’s OK to call her a girly girl — she’s the first to admit it. It’s that girly eye that makes her so good at her job. Having the ability to make her customers feel immediately comfortable and relaxed is important when you’re dressing them for one of the most important days of their lives. Whether it’s a homecoming dance, high school prom or a wedding, Miller — affectionately known as Miss Diva — prides herself in putting women in the perfect dress. And whether you’re a size 00 or a 26, you’ll get the same quality of care at Diva’s. “God’s given me the gift of merchandising and the ability to make people feel good about themselves,” Miller said. “I give my girls a lot of attention. I see their body style and I know exactly what to put on them.” If her customers feel good, she feels good. “If you feel pretty and it’s a nice experience, you feel good about yourself,” she added. Miller just moved her formal wear boutique to downtown Franklin in June, but she has been in the business more than 40 years. She gives a lot of credit for her success to her husband and business partner of 42 years — Rick Miller. They started out in the formal wear business at 24 years old in their home state of California, but it wasn’t long before they moved south to take over a large formal apparel sales territory based in Atlanta. “We were one of the largest retailers in Atlanta — we had 52 employees and a huge showroom in the ‘80s and ‘90s,” Miller said. “We always traveled the road in a motorhome to show our merchandise.” But something started to change at the turn of the century — the internet began to pick up steam and buying online would forever change how people purchased formal wear. Who needed a salesman or woman when they could find what they wanted online by themselves? “After 2005 when the internet got so powerful, we saw our industry changing,” she said. “We got out of the business and decided to go into our passion — we basically reinvented the wheel.” The Millers moved to Franklin and opened Cowboys

Sarah Miller, better known as Miss Diva, shows off some of her boutique items at Diva’s on Main in downtown Franklin. Jessi Stone photo

“God’s given me the gift of merchandising and the ability to make people feel good about themselves. I give my girls a lot of attention. I see their body style and I know exactly what to put on them.” — Sarah Miller, Diva’s on Main

and Diva’s on Highlands Road to continue to provide their expertise in sports and formal wear sales. They’ve built up quite a reputation for what seems like a smalltown operation. However, the one-of-a-kind gowns they carry are far from small town. Miller handpicks her dresses and only buys the best quality collections. “Knowledge is power in our business, and I work hard to know my fabrics, cuts and quality,” Miller said. The Millers make presentations all over the region and cater to 19 high schools for their formal wear needs. Sarah said she goes out of her way to offer dresses for all types of young women with pricing ranging from affordable to top of the line. And her repeat customers know they can trust Miss Diva’s judgment because for her it’s about more than making money. “I love what I do and if you love it, you never work a day in your life,” Miller said.

And she must mean it because she never takes a day off. The store is open seven days a week and she will come in early or stay late to accommodate her customers’ needs. It takes a major obstacle to knock her down — and even then she’s quick to bounce back. Resilience and perseverance are two qualities that come to mind when Miller thinks about the challenges that come with being a female business owner. While she loves her job, health problems over the last five years have prevented her from being at the top of her game. Extreme weight gain and scoliosis took a heavy toll on her and confined her to work from a wheelchair. Being in a wheelchair made it difficult for her to give customers the attention they need and give her employees — Diva dolls — the proper training needed before prom season. If you see Miss Diva today though, you’d never know what she went through. After losing 150 pounds, having knee and hip surgery and getting out of the wheelchair, there’s no stopping her now. “It was hard. People look down on you if you’re in a wheelchair and look down on you if you’re overweight,” Miller said. “But I got myself together and now I can run up and down the stairs at the store and I can better train my staff — everything is back to normal.” The hardest part of her recovery after surgery was not being at the store. Not even her doctor to keep her off her feet for long before she was back at work. When asked when she sleeps, she said, “When Mr. Miller makes me.” “I thoroughly enjoy the interactions I have with people,” she said. “The biggest struggle I have is if I’m not busy and if I’m not helping and enjoying people.”


A different world

BY HOLLY KAYS STAFF WRITER n Western North Carolina’s travel and tourism community, it’s not too unusual to find women at the helm. But when Stephanie Edwards, executive director of the Cashiers Chamber of Commerce, launched her career about 30 years ago, she was most definitely the Stephanie Edwards minority. “There were spent more than two many times in decades in high-level the jobs that I travel and tourism held when I was positions before takthe only female ing the executive in the room,” director job at the said Edwards, 57. Cashiers Chamber of “We’ve made great strides since Commerce four years then and I feel ago. Donated photo like the progress that has been made has opened doors for those who have followed behind.” Before arriving in Cashiers four years ago, Edwards had built a career in travel and tourism that began with more than a decade of work with state and federal chambers of commerce on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. From there she joined AAA’s national headquarters, filling executive roles that required her to interact with the board of directors, manage international contracts with reciprocal clubs around the world, and manage the national office’s communications. Partway into her tenure there, AAA transferred her and 800 other people to a new national headquarters in Orlando. Throughout those years, she said, she was “very aware” of her gender and the

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“I think we should look for talent, encourage talent, encourage education for both men and women in all walks of life.” — Stephanie Edwards, Cashiers Chamber of Commerce executive director

CHALLENGES: The greatest challenge I have faced in real estate is the same challenge faced by all working mothers — finding the balance between family, career and community obligations. Otherwise, I don’t believe there are barriers for women in real estate. In fact, many of Haywood County’s top brokers and my role models and mentors have been women.

WOMEN IN BUSINESS 2016

Edwards reflects on culture changes spanning 30 years in the workplace

perceptions that accompanied it. “Quite frankly, I felt like I had to overachieve sometimes to keep that place at the table and was very willing to do that,” Edwards said. “That’s my personality.” Still, it could be galling when she’d tell people she worked for the company president only to have them assume it was an administrative position. “I had a master’s degree. I had worked in significant positions. But because I was a female, they did not assume I was the chief of staff,” she said. “They assumed I was entry-level.” The culture has come a long way since then, though, and so has Edwards — when the job opening came up in Cashiers, where she’s vacationed since childhood, she had no qualms about applying. The position was a great fit coming at the perfect time, and she was in need of a respite from the busy corporate cultures of D.C. and Orlando. “Every day is different, and I’m challenged by that,” Edwards said. “I love the opportunity to serve my community and in particular to help support small businessmen and women who work so hard to be successful.” And, while gender had been such an upfront, elephant-in-the-room kind of issue for so much of Edwards’ career, it’s really not any longer. Both men and women sit at the head of chambers of commerce across the western region, and Edwards says she hasn’t detected bias since coming to Cashiers. In fact, these days she’s an advocate for expanding learning and professional opportunities to capable people of both genders, rather than focusing on women specifically. “I think we should look for talent, encourage talent, encourage education for both men and women in all walks of life,” she said. “That’s probably easier to say now because we have made advancement.” Now, Edwards experiences being a women in the business world as simply being a person in the business world. “There are both men and women at the table who are equally qualified and most importantly work very effectively together,” she said. “At the end of the day, that’s what it’s about.”

SFR, ECO, GREEN

FAVORITE THING: I enjoy the opportunity to act as an ambassador for Haywood County. As a deeply rooted native, I’m honored to educate visitors on why they should choose to make their home here. I also love closing the deal. It is deeply satisfying to sit with a client at the settlement table when all the hard work and challenges are in the rear view mirror and know that you’ve helped someone accomplish their goal. ADVICE TO YOUNG WOMEN: HGTV makes it look too easy! Know that a successful career in real estate requires a personal and financial investment. It is a rewarding career but transactions are complicated and filled with highs and lows. And remember that our homes are the greatest financial investment in our lives. Assisting others in the sale or purchase of a home is a responsibility that should be taken very seriously.

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WOMEN IN BUSINESS 2016 16

Sylva’s homegrown talent BY CORY VAILLANCOURT STAFF WRITER estled betwixt the Great Balsam and Plott Balsam ranges not far from Western Carolina University in Jackson County, the town of Sylva is in the midst of a transformation. A recent story in the Washington Post called Sylva an “Asheville alternative for the crowd-weary” and in turn generated scads of anecdotes from business owners about people flocking to the town of 2,600, including a curious Morgan Freeman, who apparently strolled up and down Main Street a few days ago. And Freeman’s not the only one — the Jackson County Tourism Development Authority said in June that occupancy taxes were up almost 10 percent over the previous year and were the highest recorded in the past four years. Accordingly, high-minded civic initiatives such as a comprehensive economic development plan, a watershed plan, creekside cleanup and public art are currently making the rounds in Sylva, even as more practical acquisitions — including a garbage truck and backhoe — take place. Helping to orchestrate it all is Sylva’s homegrown town manager, Paige Dowling. Born and raised Paige Dowling in Sylva, Dowling graduated from Smoky Mountain High School and N.C. State, where she majored in economics. “I enjoyed business, and thought I’d go to law school,” she said, quickly pointing out that she never really wanted to be a practicing attorney but thought she’d be involved somehow in policy. Dowling interned for three sessions in the North Carolina General Assembly and went on to earn a Master of Public Affairs from Western Carolina University, where she fell under the tutelage of a somewhat legendary Western North Carolina political figure. “I learned so much from him,” Dowling said of Mike Morgan. Morgan served as the town manager of Weaverville for 18 years, retiring in 2010 – sort of. His time as Waynesville’s interim town manager in 2016 was his fifth interim gig, on top of being an adjunct faculty member in WCU’s MPA program. Dowling learned budgeting from Morgan before graduating with her MPA in 2012; in Sept. 2011, she became Sylva’s Main Street Director and began working on community development projects until April 2012, when she became Sylva’s assistant town manager with the understanding that when the interim town manager left, the job was hers. That interim town manager was Mike Morgan.

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“It’s a great profession. Every day is different, every day I work with different people, and I love working at something I’m passionate about in my hometown.” — Paige Dowling, Sylva town manager

Dowling earned the unique opportunity to not only study under Morgan, but also work under him in the real world, where she gained the type of insight only a grizzled veteran can provide. And Dowling would need that insight — when she became Sylva’s town manager in June 2012, she was just 25 years old. Being in charge of a $3.5 million budget at the age of 25 is rare, and even more so in municipal government. Although there are younger managers in several local municipalities — Seth Hendler-Voss in Canton and Nathan Clark in Maggie Valley — when Dowling ascended to the post, she was the youngest in the state, possibly ever. “When you’re in one of your first full-time roles you’re going to be nervous,” she said, “but I had wonderful department heads and staff. I’ve been very fortunate. I had help and everyone wanted me to succeed. They

couldn’t have been more helpful.” According a 2005 report prepared for the North Carolina Association of City & County Management, Dowling is unique in that her profession is “less attractive to young professionals” due to Generations X and Y placing more emphasis on work-life balance, whereas those of the baby boomer generation “are more willing to sacrifice personal interests and family for professional advancement and place the needs of the job before other competing interests.” Adding to the unique nature of Dowling’s position, she’s a woman in an overwhelmingly male-dominated industry. Dowling said she thinks the stat is around 13 percent – that is, 87 percent of town or county managers are men. Navigating the political climate as a woman in Sylva, however, hasn’t been excessively challenging for Dowling. In fact, two of four town board members are female, as is Mayor Lynda Sossamon. Regardless, Dowling said her sex — as well as her age — has never been an impediment to fulfilling her duties. “I don’t think I’ve had a hard time in that regard at all,” she said. “I don’t even think of that as a factor.” Dowling loves her job helping to orchestrate the transformation of the community she was raised in, just a few miles from her alma mater, with a solid foundation laid by her former professor. But she can’t explain why there aren’t more women in positions like hers. “I don’t know why that is,” she said. “It’s a great profession. Every day is different, every day I work with different people, and I love working at something I’m passionate about in my hometown.”


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“I love it. I love the interaction with the owners and the tenants, I love finding people somewhere to live,” Rogers said. Since becoming the owner of Select Homes in 2010, Rogers has steadily grown the business, more than doubling the number of rental properties that Select Homes manages.

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WOMEN IN BUSINESS 2016

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SelectHomesWNC.com

APPÉTIT Y’AL N L BO

— Real Local People, Real Local Food — Mary Catherine Earnest, a native of Haywood County, is proud to serve friends and neighbors at the Blue Rooster Southern Grill. Mary graduated from AB Tech’s culinary program, and earned her business degree from Montreat College. Mary worked as a chef, caterer, foodservice director, and restaurant marketing consultant for 20 years before opening the Blue Rooster, now in its sixth year of operation. “We want to THANK the many talented and dedicated women who work with us at the Blue Rooster. These team members are also moms, students, artists, church youth leaders, community volunteers, grandmothers, award-winning scholars, farmers, competitive athletes, and more! So far 2016 has been the bestand most challenging- year ever for the Blue Rooster Team. We have successfully completed an expansion and renovation project- adding 40 new seats to our busy restaurant. Our team is bigger and better than ever, and we are so proud to work with each and every one of these ladies.”

- Mary Earnest and Steve Redmond

207 Paragon Parkway, Clyde, North Carolina

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828-456-1997 | blueroostersoutherngrill.com | Monday-Friday Open at 11am

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WOMEN IN BUSINESS 2016

As your full-time professional REALTOR®, I am dedicated to providing you with excellent service beyond your expectations! I love helping people achieve their dreams, and it's that passion that led me to real estate. My clients admire my persistence and open communication. If there is a problem in your contract, I will go above and beyond to fix it and make the contract work for you. And I'll keep you informed about your transaction at every step. My years of real estate experience have given me a wide variety of knowledge about all aspects of real estate transactions. I get most excited about finding the best opportunities for home buyers and helping my sellers sell their homes in a timely fashion. From consultation to closing, my hands-on approach, professional attitude, excellent communication, and strong negotiation skills will help you achieve your goals for selling or buying a home. I began my real estate career on an agent team at Beverly-Hanks & Associates in 2005 and obtained my license in 2006. In 2009, I took an opportunity to work in another firm and was successful in helping many homebuyers and sellers while there. During that time, I also served on the Haywood County Foundation Board from 2013–2015, and was the Local MLS Director in 2015. As of July 2016, I am excited to return to Beverly-Hanks & Associates in the Downtown Waynesville office to help people with their mid-range and luxury homes. I appreciate the opportunity to work with you and show you how important you are to me. Contact me today! I am a native of Western North Carolina, so I'm passionate about assisting you in finding your perfect home in the beautiful mountains around Haywood County. I live in Waynesville, NC with my husband Joe, who also has his real estate license. Together we have three children— Abigail, Alexandra, and Adam—all of whom play soccer. When I am not selling real estate, you can find me taking a run around the lake, playing with my two labrador retrievers, or enjoying a nice dinner or movie with my family.

n e b o r P e n i r e h t a C 74 N. Main St., Waynesville

828.452.5809

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Cell: 828-734-9157 Office: 828-452-5809 cproben@beverly-hanks.com


Women in Business 2016