Page 1

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

October 18-24, 2017 Vol. 19 Iss. 21

Brunch bill stalls in Jackson amid vocal opposition Page 22 Haywood appoints interim county manager Page 27

Dr. Sparks finds calling in naturopathy


WOMEN IN BUSINESS 2017 The family that works together Home cooking and community still draws crowds at Granny’s Kitchen


BY HOLLY KAYS STAFF WRITER It’s 3 p.m. on a weekday, a time when any restaurant would be well within its rights to be all but empty. But business at Granny’s Kitchen in Cherokee is humming along steadily, the main parking lot about half full and the hostess busily engaged with fielding phone calls, ringing up customers on their way out and welcoming customers on their way in. “It is leaf season, but still all summer long it’s been what it is,” says Dwight Williamson, kitchen manager and at 40 the youngest son of owners Ray and Teresa Williamson. The smell of home cooking swells like a wave immediately upon opening the door to the restaurant’s homey woodpaneled dining room, the buffet line stocked with freshly made turkey and dressing, roast beef and pudding. It’s country cooking done right, tried-andtrue recipes honed to perfection over the course of 33 years. “We do everything the hard way,” Dwight said. “When it comes to cooking, it ain’t no shortcuts. You start with the best product you can buy, and you go from there.” Those are lessons Dwight has been learning since childhood. He was just a kid when his parents started Granny’s Kitchen in 1984, his growing-up years lived to the rhythm of the restaurant business. “We had four little kids, and I quit my job and he (Ray) quit his job, and we didn’t really have sense enough to realize we could have failed at it,” Teresa said of the decision to become entrepreneurs.

The opportunity arose to lease the business location, which the family now owns, and the Williamsons figured they’d give it a try. Ray had been cooking professionally since age 14, earning a degree in hotel and restaurant management from AB Tech, and Teresa, who is an enrolled member of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, had started helping with her grandmother’s restaurant — the old Sequoyah Restaurant downtown — when she was 11 years old, though her professional background is in bookkeeping. They were restaurant people, through and through, so they figured they might as well own one.

A TEAM EFFORT It was hard at the beginning. The restaurant was open seven days a week, from about 7 in the morning until 8 or 9 at night. The family had a house, but they often stayed overnight in a little apartment inside the restaurant. If they were awake, it seemed, they were working. As far as time off, vacations pretty much had to be in the winter, when business was slower. “We used to have to pull our kids out of school to take them places,” Teresa recalls. Over time, things stabilized. They started closing one day a week — Mondays — to give themselves and their employees a chance to breathe. The apartment where the family once spent so many nights is now gone, transformed into a salad room. And with her kids all grown and active in the business themselves, Ray and Teresa no longer have to spend so much time at the restaurant. “I had hoped they would see what it was like to work like a dog and they would get a good education and they would do something else, nine-to-five and holidays off and stuff,” Teresa said. “They all got good educations, but they’re right there with us, thank God.”

Even in the middle of the afternoon, cars crowd the parking lot at Granny’s Kitchen. Holly Kays photo

“You may be the only person that has the opportunity to make [a customer] feel better that day. So be as nice and kind and friendly as you can. You can’t please everybody, but you can always try to make people feel better.” — Teresa Williamson

Granny’s Kitchen is probably as true to the definition of a family business as it’s possible to be. In addition to Ray and Teresa, 11 other family members work in various aspects of the business — two sons, a daughter, sons- and daughters-inlaw and grandchildren. “People kind of look at us wondering how we can all hang out together all the time, but we manage to do it,” Teresa laughed. “Our family gets along very well,”

Dwight added. “We do everything together. Any event, we’re all there unless we’re here. Any family function, we’re all together.” The key to family harmony in the midst of a fast-paced industry, Teresa said, is having a thick skin and a willingness to work. “There’s no such thing up here as, ‘It’s not my job,’” she said. Everyone has a job title, but in reality everyone has done all the jobs at some point along the way. Dwight, for instance, started out as a kid rolling silverware, back when the family stayed so many nights in the attached apartment and the children would wander in and out of the restaurant when they got home from school. His brother would bus tables, and his sister would run the cash register. Though cooking is his passion, in the years since he’s tried his hand at most everything else that might need doing. There’s no pointing at one single person to credit the success of Granny’s Kitchen. It’s a team effort, all the way. That’s a tradition that starts with Teresa and Ray themselves. “You have to rely on each other,” Teresa said. “I think with my strengths and his (Ray’s) strengths, I’m able to kind of think outside the box sometimes and develop new ways to do things. As far as

that you have a DIETITIAN on call? A fresh roast in the foreground, customers load their plates with meatloaf, rolls, mashed potatoes and green beans. Holly Kays photo his goes, his is all about the work and the food. And he’s real laid-back. I’m not so laid-back.” Teresa describes her husband as “the hardest-working person I know,” a “people pleaser” who knows the food business inside and out. Teresa is a hard worker herself but concentrates more on the bookkeeping and paperwork, making sure that the scene is set to support the hard work of all those involved in Granny’s Kitchen’s success.

DELICIOUS FAMILIARITY If Granny’s Kitchen were a movie, then the credits would feature an endless reel of supporting roles played by the countless people who have patronized the business over the years. “Our locals have been our advertisers,” Teresa said. “When we got that place we didn’t have anything. We had to borrow money to make the down payment on the lease. We probably had $300 in the bank. But that’s just the thing is we couldn’t afford to advertise. We couldn’t do a whole lot of stuff, so it was just our local people and word of mouth that’s helped us out.” Developing a hallmark of friendly service and appreciation of local patrons has proven a winning business strategy, but it also stems from a belief in the power of a tasty meal or genuine smile to change the trajectory of a person’s day. “You may be the only person that has the opportunity to make them feel better that day,” Teresa said. “So be as nice and kind and friendly as you can. You can’t please everybody, but you can always try to make people feel better.” That concoction of delicious food, homey atmosphere and friendly service has created something that resonates with locals and visitors alike. Granny’s is a

popular lunch spot for people in Cherokee, and Dwight has no problem listing off various customers who routinely drive from much longer distances to get some of his roast turkey and dressing. There’s lady who lived out past Hendersonville and would drive two hours every Wednesday just to have some roast beef, until she got sick last year and could no longer make the trip. And there’s another guy who lives out in Haywood County’s Jonathan Creek area and comes over almost every day for a meal. For many of these folks, familiarity is the draw. Though Granny’s staff has grown from about 15 in the early years to 48 now, many of the same employees have stayed on year after year, and even decade after decade. The menu, too, has seen little change, though not for lack of effort. “We’ve tried to change the menu a couple of times, and it’s almost caused a revolt,” Teresa laughed. So, Granny’s Kitchen has kept to tradition, giving the people what they want — the comfort and stable familiarity that most people expect to find in their grandmother’s kitchen. And Teresa is OK with that. Looking back at it she’s proud of the business that she, Ray and their children have built over the last three decades. “The biggest thing is you’re only as good as the worst employees you’ve got, and we’ve got some pretty daggone good ones,” she said. “We couldn’t do anything if it wasn’t for the people that we have working, and we wouldn’t be able to keep them working if it weren’t for the people coming in the front door. To be able to be born and raised in Cherokee, and to be able to make my living there and give back what I can to the community — that’s about the best you can hope for.”

Leah McGrath, RDN, LDN


Did you know... is the Corporate Dietitian for

Ingles Markets. She can answer your questions about food from the farm to the plate, whether you want to know about nutrition, ingredients, preparation or agriculture. Leah is a registered dietitian nutritionist, licensed in the state of North Carolina. She has a B.S. in Human Nutrition from the University of Maryland, completed her dietetic internship with the U.S. Army, served as an officer and dietitian in the U.S. Army and worked in Public Health as a WIC and Nutrition Director in South Carolina. For the past 17 years Leah has been the Corporate Dietitian for Ingles Markets. Her passion to learn more about the food system has led her to visit over 50 farms( of all sizes) and food entrepreneurs in the past 5 years. She is also actively involved with farmers and food businesses in Western NC and works regularly with ASAP ( Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project) and the North Carolina Department of Agriculture.

Stay connected with Leah! Listen to her podcast interviews at Listen to her every Saturday morning on WWNC 570am on iheartradio Read her columns in the Smoky Mountain News and in Smoky Mountain Living If you have questions write to her at: Call her: 800-334-4936



Building business in Haywood County BY CORY VAILLANCOURT STAFF WRITER ts no surprise that The Smoky Mountain News’ annual Women in Business issue highlights women who are in business, but this year, we decided to focus on something a bit more meta: the daughter of a woman in business who is a woman in the business of getting women into business. Katy Gould, director of the Small Business Center at Haywood Community College, was raised in Haywood County by a mother who operated a data processing business with both a local office and an office in Washington, D.C. “I grew up in a small business, so I know what a good day looks like, what a bad day looks like, and what it looks like when all hands are on deck to make a business run,” Gould said. “I think that’s what really shaped my love for entrepreneurship — watching my mom.” Gould earned her degree at Berea College in business administration, where she was introduced to a program called Entrepreneurship for the Public Good, headed by Dr. Peter Hackbert since its inception in 2007. “It was focused on taking entrepreneurship to rural Appalachian coal mining communities where the coal mines had left environmental destruction and economic destruction,” she said. “We worked hand in hand with these communities to help entrepreneurship evolve that ecosystem.” After college, Gould was recruited into the world of big box retail. “That was not the best fit for me,” she said. “I really love small business. Big box retail is a major component in our economic ecosystem but I just love those small businesses.” She returned to Haywood County to work as an events coordinator at the Haywood County Chamber of Commerce while earning her master’s degree in entrepreneurship at Western Carolina University; when the previous director of the Small Business Center retired, Gould jumped at the chance to lead the organization. The Small Business Center is part of the N.C. Small Business Center Network; before being named the Haywood Chamber of Commerce’s Young Professional of the Year in 2016, Gould was named the NCSBC’s “Rookie of the Year” in 2015. “I think there’s 59 across the state,” she said. “There is one Small Business Center within 30 minutes of every North Carolinian.” Like the others, Haywood’s SBC offers free, confidential, one-on-one technical assistance, counseling, educational seminars, resource referrals and micro lending assistance for businesses in any stage — from idea to market, and beyond. “You can be a start up, you can be an idea generator, you can be in business or in business for five years and experiencing a trouble spot where you’re not sure what to do — we are here for all of it,” she said. As women have traditionally been underrepresented in the business community as well as in the entreprenurial community, their inclusion is of particular import in both economic development and social aspects.


Director of the Small Business Center Katie Gould helps women – or anyone – with a small business. Cory Vaillancourt photo “I think women entrepreneurs have unique opportunity,” Gould said. “North Carolina is phenomenal — I think we’re number three as far as women-owned business startup growth.” She feels the same way about Haywood County. “For a rural community, it’s unlike anything I’ve seen,” Gould said. “In my opinion, it’s one of the top [counties] in North Carolina. We have vibrant downtowns. We have great subsectors throughout the community, and each municipality really has something to bring to the table, from their downtown perspective — from their merchants’ associations and their chambers of commerce.” Another asset to female entrepreneurs in the region is the Buncombe County-based Western Women’s Business Center, which in addition to providing services like Gould’s SBC, also helps entrepreneurs interface with the Carolina Small Business loan program. “It’s a phenomenal program doing nothing but supporting women in business,” said Gould. “They are a catalyst to help drive the women’s business economy. They ensure access to capital, additional technical experience, additional educational seminars, and they do an annual conference.” Gould’s group partners with the organization on two yearly women in business luncheons that bring women together to make connections. “So you’re not only learning, you’re almost in a co-

working environment for that two hours you’re together,” she said. “You’re collaborating with one another, you’re building with one another — you’re building networks.” The local network, Gould said, is strong as well. “I find the Haywood County women’s business economy to be very inclusive, which I appreciate. Women supporting other women. Women mentoring other women in business. Women really wanting to help one another to get a leg up, rather than being in an environment where people may be standoffish to a competitor.” It’s all of those reasons why Gould implores anyone, but especially women, to consider starting their own business in Haywood County. “Assuming the idea is a good fit — if it’s a unique value proposition that is a good fit for our county, and is a product or a service that is of need, or maybe something new, different, or better, my recommendation is to really revisit yourself,” she said. Think through what impact the business will have on your self, your family, your financial situation and in your role in the community, Gould cautioned; if you still feel like it’s a good idea, the SBC can help with the first steps to planning and developing a business. “There are so many people in your ball court, so many people there to cheer you on, or even to lend a hand if you should falter,” she said. “This diverse unique and vibrant business climate is really the perfect catalyst for women in entrepreneurship.”

“I find the Haywood County women’s business economy to be very inclusive, which I appreciate. Women supporting other women. Women mentoring other women in business. Women really wanting to help one another to get a leg up, rather than being in an environment where people may be standoffish to a competitor.”

Sheila Gahagan, CPA Specializing in Audits, Reviews & Tax Preparation.

229 PENLAND STREET, CLYDE, NC Phone (828) 627-1040


Patricia Miller has owned and operated Affairs of the Heart on Main Street in downtown Waynesville since March of 1996. Her motivation to open the retail store was simple: she wanted a local place to sell the crafts she and her mom made together. When she made the decision to open her own store, her mom was at her side to offer moral support. Today Patricia and her sister Roseann work side by side in the store. They pride themselves on having good products at good prices. They love meeting the customers and providing great service.

Affairs of the Heart

Fax (828) 627-2329

————————————————————————————— 120 N. Main St. • Waynesville, NC • 828.452.0526

When your babies need the right kind of pampering or supplies... Complete Pet Supplies Premium Dog & Cat Food

Dog House The

Providing Loving Professional Care Since 1973

Grooming: 828­456­3753 304 Haywood Street, Waynesville N.C.

Retail: 828­452­9573

Committtte Co ted ttoo EExxceeddiinngg Exxppecttaattiions

Marilynn Obrig, a 28-year South Florida Real Estate veteran, has earned a reputation as one of the most trusted and respected professionals in the business. Her hard work ethic and negotiating skills enabled her to cement her position with a repeat high-profile clientele that relies on marketing talent, confidentiality and attention to detail. In 2007, Marilynn and her husband chose Waynesville for retirement. After two years of "settling in" and volunteer work, Marilynn felt the desire to get back in the Real Estate Laurel Ridge Country Club business. Perceiving a need for specialized marketing for high-end homes, she targeted that market, and now shares her luxury marketing experience with her clients in North Carolina. Marilynn joined Beverly-Hanks in 2009 and retained her Florida real estate license to broaden her marketing base. Marilynn’s primary career focus is to help her buyers and sellers achieve their goals with a caring, “win-win” Remarkable Vibrant Golf Course Residence amid the beautiful fairways of Laurel Ridge Country Club. approach, and design a sense of humor. uction assure luxurious and comffo ortable year-round The extensive planning, and quality constru Living. With wide plank antique Heart Pine floors, Pella windows, Gourmet Upscale Kitchen, Master w/Fireplace & His&Hers Baths, 3 Guest Suites, Captivating Views V from covered Ironwood Deck and Stone Patio.

Marilynn was honored to serve REACH of Haywood County Board of Directors as the Fundraising/Special Events Chair from 2012 to 2016. In 2014, Marilynn led a committee to form the Friends of REACH, an Auxiliary which provides volunteers for fundraisers, the Within Reach Thrift Store, Crisis Hotline and Emergency Shelter, supporting survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. Ridgeview Estates Laurel Ridge Country Club

Drop Dead Views! Custom Post&Beam, upscale October is Domestic Violence Awarenesskitchen, Month huge luxury Master Suite. Amenities!!

Sited on a ridge line w/panoramic views, this stunning 4087 SF Contemporary home has the for! Superb design, "Wow" factor you are looking fo features galore! 366-105

MLS 589353


MLS 580943


Marilynn Obrig-Serratt GRI


For 35 years, Marilynn has been a proven leader in the sale and marketing of luxury homes. Please call ffo or a

Licensed Broker in North Carolina AND Florida Visit the best real estate website in the Mountains at:

74 North Main Street Wa W aynesville, NC 28786 Fax: 828-452-5819


Power of self-healing WOMEN IN BUSINESS 2017

Dr. Linda Sparks performs a homeopathic treatment on a patient at her naturopath practice Blue Ridge Natural Health in Waynesville. Donated photo


Dr. Sparks takes long-range approach to personal health


“It made me realize something was missing with this system,” Sparks said. “My mom went to a manipulative osteopath, a naturopath and did yoga and she eventually walked again. My mom wouldn’t have danced at my brother’s wedding without that alternative doctor.”

BY J ESSI STONE N EWS E DITOR Too often patients visit Dr. Linda Sparks as a last resort. Only after years of not being able to find any answers or relief through traditional medicine, do they turn to an alternative like naturopathic medicine. Sparks has personally seen patients completely heal themselves with naturopathic medicine, which is why she decided to change her entire career to help others see those same health benefits. “We believe the body can heal itself if you give the body what it needs and take away what it doesn’t need,” she said. After spending years clawing her way into the film and television industry in Hollywood and ultimately finding success, Sparks made the difficult decision to go to medical school. She could have easily

become a traditional medical physician but her mother’s story inspired her to become a naturopathic doctor — a challenging yet rewarding career. Sparks was 8 years old when her mom started falling down and ended up being confined to a wheelchair. “No one knew what was wrong with her. She went through so much testing — even electroshock — but none of it helped. Doctors said there was no help for her and that it was in her head,” she said. Three years later a family friend advised the family to take their mother to a manipulative osteopath doctor in Maine. They drove four hours for this doctor to perform spinal manipulations on her mom. They weren’t very hopeful after so many years without a diagnosis. “Mom and dad were crying when they came out of his office,” Sparks recalled. “He discovered she had scoliosis — it was hitting her sciatic nerve and making her legs jump, which was causing the falls.” It seemed like such an easy answer, but it was one that no other medical doctor was able to determine.

Looking for work proved to be more challenging that she thought — and in 2000 she was still carrying around a pager and the internet wasn’t what it is today. “I had a big book of names of people who worked in the industry — I literally just started calling and got to the middle of the B’s when I finally got an interview and a job on the first action series ‘The Tick’ — that lasted for six weeks,” she said. It was while attending a Tom Jones show that Sparks’ career really turned around. The men she was chatting with at the table next to hers during the show turned out to work for ABC and knew film director JJ Abrams. She gushed about how she’d love to work with Abrams, never thinking it would lead to an interview and then a job working with him on the hit show “Alias.” She was a production assistant for a year and then was the assistant to the executive producer/director. “It changed my life. I worked right next to JJ — he and Ken (Olin) are just crazy geniuses. They are inspiring and giving and talented,” she said. “He was the kind of guy you wanted to work 15 hours a day for because he was working 18 hours. He would be playing guitar, sculpting and editing the next episode all at the same time.” While working on “Alias,” she also went back to school to become a massage therapist — it seemed like a good back up plan if work dried up again or for when she was ready to get out of the film business. She was working on ABC’s hit show

Long before she became a naturopathic doctor with her own blossoming practice in Waynesville, Sparks thought she was destined to work in show business. “I wanted to be an actress — I was really into musical theater and dance — so I attended an arts and college prep high school,” she said. After high school, Sparks decided she didn’t want to “sell herself ” in Hollywood to be an actress so she decided that working behind the scenes would be a better fit. She attended the University of Miami where she earned a degree in theater design and production. “I went for palm trees and sun and ended up spending 90 percent of my time in a dark theater,” Sparks joked. “But Miami didn’t have a large theater community and there weren’t many internships available so I minored in film to get an internship.” In addition to interning as a set dresser for a B movie for a month, Sparks said she did plenty of other free work during her senior year in college. The only way she knew how to land jobs after graduation was to just show up to commercial sets, start helping and hope they’d “It made me realize something was pay her when it was all said and done. missing with this system. My mom “I didn’t have any conwent to a manipulative osteopath, nections — I just kept showing up and helping a naturopath and did yoga and she people until they paid eventually walked again.” me,” she said. That strategy did — Dr. Linda Sparks work out for her though — it wasn’t long before “Brothers & Sisters” in 2007 when the she was hired to work on a movie set as a writers’ strike happened and she had a prop assistant in the Caribbean for six chance to try her hand at massage therapy. weeks. While the movie — “Life’s A “It was hard to get clients and it was Beach” — wasn’t a box office smash, it did taxing because people just wanted you to star Christopher Walken, Morgan make them feel good,” Sparks said. “And I Fairchild and Robert Wagner and helped realized I don’t want to just help people Sparks make new connections that would feel good — if I’m really going to help ultimately lead her to Los Angeles. people, I need an education.” Without much of a plan, Sparks moved to L.A. and lived with the art director of “Life’s A Beach” while she ACK TO SCHOOL looked for work. “I moved out with two suitcases and I Sparks swore she’d never go back to lived in a closet under the stairs like Harry school — she squeaked by in high school Potter,” she said. and college — but the need to help people


— Dr. Linda Sparks

they’re changing the way they practice, but the problem is, our philosophy of health is a lot different than the standard way of looking at health right now so being a resident just wouldn’t work for me,” Sparks said. Naturopathic medicine involves taking a long-range holistic approach to health and that involves a much deeper look at a patient’s life than the standard 30-minute physical exam once a year. It involves getting to the root of a person’s medical issue and using natural remedies that will help a patient heal themselves. It also involves working with a patient to change their unhealthy behaviors.


Dr. Linda Sparks sells homemade salves and teas at her booth at the Historic Farmers Market in Waynesville. Donated photo in a real way kept nagging at her. She now knows her hesitancy to go back to school was because she never believed in herself — never thought she was smart enough to succeed academically. Maybe she had more to prove when she went back to massage school. Still working full-time on “Alias,” her employers sponsored her tuition and she aced the program. However, taking pre-med courses was going to be her greatest challenge yet. While working on “Brothers & Sisters” during the day, she attended classes at night. She aced physics and her first-ever chemistry classes. “That was the first time I thought I may be smart after all,” she said. “Brothers & Sisters” was unexpectedly canceled, which allowed Sparks to go to school full time to finish her pre-med classes. Then she had to decide what path she would take next — stay in Hollywood or pursue her dream of becoming a doctor. “My soul felt so squashed in L.A. with

the whole keeping up with Jones mentality — even though I worked with great people,” Sparks said. “The idea of becoming an MD was so worthy, but the system is so broken and I didn’t think I could handle it.”

NATUROPATH PATH Then she thought back to her mother’s medical issues when she was younger and how an alternative doctor saved her quality of life. Sparks was admitted to Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine in Phoenix and completed four years of graduate school with clinical training. With a 4.0 grade average after her first year, she set her sights on becoming a naturopathic resident, but residencies are few and far between in that field. She also realized that being a resident would once again box her into the mainstream thinking that failed her mother and so many others. “There’s a split in our profession — one side wants to be treated like an MD so

Being from Massachusetts, Sparks was always drawn to more warm and sunny locations — Miami, Los Angeles, Phoenix — but a visit to see a friend in Waynesville would soon bring her back to a place with four seasons and a much slower pace. At first she thought opening her own naturopathic practice in Asheville would be the best plan, but she kept being drawn back to Waynesville. “I met doctors in Asheville but I quickly realized I wanted to be in Waynesville — a smaller community where people know each other and look out for each other,” she said. “There’s a lot of history and beautiful hills — I wanted a higher tree-to-person ratio.” Sparks moved to Waynesville in 2015 and started Blue Ridge Natural Health inside of Waynesville Wellness, but being a naturopathic doctor in North Carolina has its disadvantages. There is currently no certification process for naturopathic doctors in North Carolina, which means they are limited in how they can operate a practice and what services they can perform. “If I still lived in Phoenix, I would be considered a primary care physician and could have a full scope practice — chiropractic, minor surgery, gynecological issues, IV therapy, phlebotomy, men’s health and physical exams,” Sparks said. “But in this state I have to work as more of a health coach helping people with lifestyle choices and natural remedies.” Besides not being able to practice all the skills she acquired during four years of medical school, the state laws also keep her from being able to accept insurance

payments from her patients. However, patients with a Health Savings Account plan can choose to use HSA savings toward naturopathic visits and treatments. Sparks also offers special annual memberships that allow patients to pay a reasonable monthly fee. “I can hands down tell you the people who join the membership program see better results,” she said. “They’re paying a monthly fee so they’re more likely to come to their follow-up visits and do the therapies at home.” Another challenge is trying to educate patients on the difference between a naturopathic doctor and a traditional naturopath. “I’m having to compete with people who call themselves naturopath doctors but weren’t trained the same way I was,” Sparks said. “Traditional naturopaths can do online correspondence classes to earn a degree but they don’t have the same clinical supervised training — that’s the biggest thing — and they’re not as trained in the basic sciences, clinical diagnosis and pathology.” There has been legislation before the General Assembly to change the laws, but for now Sparks is focused on operating within the current system by working in consultation with her patients and their primary physicians. She can offer patients lifestyle and nutrition counseling, which she says is the foundation for everything. Sparks can also offer homeopathic remedies, botanical medicine, hydrotherapy and cleansing programs. Sparks also makes organic teas that can be used for many common ailments. She’s helped her patients with thyroid issues, digestion problems, hot flashes, respiratory and allergy issues, hypertension and anxiety. Sparks has gone back to school once again to earn a master’s degree in acupuncture, another service she’ll be able to add to her practice when her degree is complete in 2019. Right now she is performing acupuncture clinics in Asheville as part of her training. For more information about Dr. Sparks and Blue Ridge Natural Health, visit or call 828.539.0440. Sparks can also be found each Saturday morning at Waynesville’s Historic Farmers Market from 8 a.m. to noon in the HART Theatre parking lot offering salves and teas.


“I met doctors in Asheville but I quickly realized I wanted to be in Waynesville — a smaller community where people know each other and look out for each other. There’s a lot of history and beautiful hills — I wanted a higher tree-to-person ratio.”


In the book business WOMEN IN BUSINESS 2017

Books Unlimited owner shares love of reading BY J ESSI STONE N EWS E DITOR The book business is rebounding thanks to people like Suzanne Harouff who’ve never given up on it. Books Unlimited has been a mainstay in downtown Franklin for more than 30 years. Other shops and restaurants have come and gone over the years as the downtown has gone through changes, but Books Unlimited has been able to outlive most even during a time when new technologies are constantly threatening its relevance. With more people attached to their smartphones, tablets or an electronic reader, everyone was convinced the print industry would suffer and eventually die off, but Harouff said she’s seen a turn around recently. “It’s building back up — that’s what I see and what I hear from my sales reps,” she said. “The future of the book business is bright — I see it as a growing future for women in business — probably at its best place ever.” Books Unlimited was opened in 1983

under the ownership of Donna and Randy Wolf. Harouff worked in the used books section of the store for years and when the owners were ready to retire, she decided to buy the business in 2003. Being her own boss was a dream come true, but she’s also found it to be a double-edged sword. She’s the only full-time employee at the store and has six part-time employees. “It’s a two way street being your own boss — I like being my own boss but sometimes I wish someone else could make decisions instead of me,” Harouff joked. “It’s definitely not what people think — I can’t just take off to go play golf — but I love what I do and I love my costumers and I demand we offer great customer service.” Anyone who owns a bookstore will tell you they’re not in it to get rich — one truly has to have an appreciation for books to be sustainable. Preserving and growing a love of reading hasn’t been easy for Harouff, but her love of reading keeps her going. “It’s been very difficult but reading real books is back on the rise,” she said. “Many people stare at a computer screen all day long and the very last thing they want to do when it’s time to relax is stare at a computer screen at home.”

“It seems impossible until it is done.” —Nelson Mandela As women, to get the most out of our days, it seems our nerves must be made of steel. We have so many roles and must be able to switch gears fast and be focused at home and on the job. This is why I am so glad chiropractic found me. Chiropractic has a way to remove stress and interference from nerves allowing the body to move better, think better, and feel better. This is why I love getting adjusted.

Suzanne Harouff, owner of Books Unlimited in Franklin, picks up a recommended read from her staff. Jessi Stone photo Several years ago there was a big push from the American Book Sellers Association to offer electronic books, and Books Unlimited did it for a while, but Harouff felt it was going against what she was trying to do. Her goal is to encourage reading among adults and especially children. “Teaching the younger generations to love reading — that’s what it’s all about. It doesn’t matter if they’re reading comic books as long as they’re reading,” she said. “Kids who say they don’t like to read just haven’t found that special book yet.” To that end, Harouff opened up Kids Books Unlimited next door in 2016 to make more room for kids reading and related activities. Now Harouff has space for children’s story time events, puppet shows, games and performances. She said it’s been a great way to engage more children as well as their parents. “We’ve seen a big difference in the summer when kids come here with their grandparents. They come in to find

books on identifying trees, flowers and birds. They’re not sitting in front of a screen while they’re here,” Harouff said. For her adult customers, Books Unlimited has something for everyone — new releases, recommended reading from staff, used books, calendars and gifts. Even though she didn’t have any business ownership experience before taking over the bookstore, Harouff has the skills that come naturally for many women and mothers, including resilience and the ability to multi-task with managing a household, raising children and working within a limited budget. “You just have to realize you’re going to be married to it and you’ll work harder at owning a business than you probably have at any marriage,” she joked. “The best advice I can give women in business is to just be patient with yourself and those around you. You can’t do it in a day or week month or even a year. It’s a gradual process — you’ve got to earn your customers respect to make them want to do business with you.”

Chiropractic allows me more possibility. As a wife, a mom of 3, a woman professional, to function in all my many roles, I know chiropractic helps me get things done. For stress relief, for function, for a better quality of life. In Health and Happiness, Dr. Tara Hogan B.A. D.C. Blue Mountain Chiropractic

270 N. Haywood St. • Waynesville 10

In Haywood Square Next To The Music Box

828-246-9555 •

Kids Books Unlimited opened in 2016 to give children more reading options along with space to offer special reading activities. Jessi Stone photo

Recipe for success grocery stores and wine shops. I handle marketing and sales, manage inventory and do all the paperwork and billing.” Making the product is also a two-person job when it comes to bottling and labeling the wine — and of course no winery would be complete without an enthusiastic wine taster to make sure it’s suitable for the public. Heather said she actually wasn’t a huge wine drinker until she met Rob.

BY J ESSI STONE N EWS E DITOR Heather and Robert Acton have it all figured out. Living on the outskirts of Swain County near the national park boundaries, they have found a perfect balance of business and pleasure. The couple bought a piece of property just above their home off of Galbraith Creek Road and retrofitted an old barn into a winery and tasting room. It’s definitely off the beaten path, but well worth the journey. Enjoy the creek flowing and the winding narrow roads as you follow the signs to Deep Creek Winery. You’ll know you made it when a German Sheppard named Roi — after one of the Deep Creek’s wines — greets you at the barn doors. Deep Creek Winery was born out of Robert’s love of making wine and Heather’s desire to do something different with her life. “I was burnt out on my Heather Acton, co-owner of Deep Creek Winery job as a physical therapy outside of Bryson City, pours a red wine tasting for assistant and having his own a visitor. Jessi Stone photo winery has always been a dream of Rob’s so we part“I just never found anything I liked nered together and I jumped on the until I met him — he got me into good bandwagon,” Heather said. wine,” she said. “There’s definitely a big Before opening the tasting room for sampling and events last year, the Actons difference in having something made in a small batch instead of mass production.” ran Deep Creek Winery as a wholesale And that’s what Deep Creek Winery business reaching many grocery stores is about. All 10 wines offered — five and wine shops across the region. As a white and five red — are made in handwinery and not a vineyard, they import crafted small batches. They offer a varisome of the best grape juices from all ety of wines ranging from sweet to dry over the world to Bryson City so Robert and from light, easy drinking to full-bodcan figure out the tastiest recipes to suit ied. And the response so far has been any wine drinkers’ palette. positive, Heather said. The more fruity “Rob has made wine for over a decade. He started at home with a wine wines like the Southern Hospitality — a peach infused California chardonnay — kit and then did an apprenticeship and the Sweet Summer Bliss — a strawwith a professional wine maker to be berry infused white zinfandel perfect for able to put his own touch on recipes,” spritzers and mimosas — have been Heather said. popular sellers this summer. While Rob has the big responsibility “It’s been a very lucrative business so of making the wines, there’s a lot more to far — no regrets about quitting my job to running a winery after the product is do this,” she said. “For me personally I just complete. Heather is instrumental in marketing and advertising, planning tast- love the independence of owning my own business — it’s demanding working for ings and events at the barn and getting other people. If you have a dream or hope their product into the right retailers. in something step out and try it — noth“I’m a very good assistant — just like ing changes if you don’t make a change.” every good chef needs a Sui chef,” she For more information, visit said. “My organizational skills come in handy with marketing and wholesaling to

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.

452 Hazelwood Ave Waynesville

485 Hendersonville Rd. Ste. 3 Asheville




Mixing women and wine always a good idea



Creating a community at the Blue Moon Salon


BY CORY VAILLANCOURT STAFF WRITER When you’ve done something for as long as Mitzi Cope has, you tend to learn a thing or two — not just about business, but about life. “We’ve done hair 24 years, and we’ve had this business for 11 years in this location,” said Cope, referring to her sister Denise Harmon-Finger. And as they’ve watched the world go by, outside the window of their Blue Moon Salon tucked away in the plaza at 300 Haywood Road in Waynesville, they say their success comes not just from cutting hair, but from creating a sense of community. “We’ve done great,” Cope said. “The salon is thriving right now.” Cope’s busy salon doesn’t really have a “slow season,” even when the secondhome crowd dwindles during the winter. “We do a lot of Florida people, but we do a lot of locals — that’s what keeps you going,” she said. In a female-dominated industry such as this, Cope must differentiate herself from other woman-owned salons, and does so by striving for that sense of community created when she gives personal attention to her clientele.

“We try to make our experiences with our clients more personal, and get to know them better so we know if they’ve got the right style, or the right cut or whatever they need,” she said. “We try to help people, and it seems like more people enjoy coming here than they do other salons. They can have a good time and a good experience.” The relationships built at Blue Moon Salon don’t end at the door; in fact, that’s only where they start. “We like to help people,” she said. “If people are disabled, we help them get in and out. I have a blind lady we help, we have crippled people in wheelchairs — we try to help everybody.” The salon boasts a budding social scene, where more than just cuts and curls are dispensed. “A lot of clients come in here, and if they need some help with a job, or finding someone, we usually know someone, a local,” Cope said. “We can hook them up with someone, and get them a better deal.” But sometimes it’s not about action — often, Cope said, it’s about reaction. “I sat out here one day, and I heard someone hollerin’ over by the church and couldn’t figure out what it was. Somebody

Serio serious about self-defense

Mu Do is a fighting system based on balance — it stresses a balance between high positions and low positions, a balance between self and surroundings, a balance between intellectual and physical development, and a generally optimistic attitude. In addition to the mental and physical conditioning inherent in all martial arts, Han Mu Do places special emphasis on technique whilst utilizing chokes, grappling, hand strikes, joint locks, kicks, throws and even weapons. “It’s very traditional,” she said. “We meditate, we practice breathing, we do stuff that goes along with martial arts that’s not just how to fight — it’s about how to practice self-control and self-discipline. The best fight is the one that’s avoided.” This is Serio’s first venture of this kind into the business world; she still works part time at Maggie Mountain Fitness in Maggie Valley, but decided to move her instruction to Waynesville because of the larger population. Her space, a former salon, is in a highly visible location close to popular restaurants, just off South Main Street on Church Street — perfect, she says, for parents who want to slip off for a snack during a child’s class, or, for the classes them-

BY CORY VAILLANCOURT STAFF WRITER The story of every small business is different and unique, but some follow an economic development narrative being heard more and more in Western North Carolina — an entrepreneur with professional skills decided to open a business in Haywood County because they wanted to be here. Jillian Serio is one such businesswoman; her Serio Self Defense opened in downtown Waynesville earlier this summer. “I wanted to live in the mountains,” Serio said. From the Baton Rouge area, this former LSU Tiger earned her degree in anthropology but is the daughter of two martial arts instructors; she practices a form of Korean martial arts called Han Mu Do. Created by Dr. He-Young Kimm, Han

Mitzi Cope (left) and sister Denise Harmon-Finger have created more than just a hair salon. Cory Vaillancourt photo had locked themself out of the church on the patio, so I kept going around, made a bunch of phone calls, and we finally got them out,” she laughed. And as the world passes by that window, sometimes Cope and her crew see opportunities to contribute to the community that has sustained them for so long. “We see people wreck, we see them fall out here, and we run out the door and help them, get them calmed down so EMS can help them,” she said. “The more cred-

Jillian Serio brings Korean martial arts to downtown Waynesville. Cory Vaillancourt photo selves to socialize afterwards. “Right now I have classes for 4, 5 and 6 year-olds, and juniors — which is about 7 through age 14 depending on maturity —

its you get here on earth, you get that many in heaven.” But being part of the woman-owned business community not only comes with rewards, it also comes with obligations. “It means you’ve got to be on your game — you can’t afford to be there and not know what you’re doing. You want to have a good clean area for people to come into,” Cope said. “We try to make it feel like home so they can come in here whether they’re rich or they’re not so they can feel like they belong.”

and then I have classes for adults,” she said. What students of all ages learn is much more than the fantastical fighting seen in popular movies of today. “It’s more than just being able to defend oneself. It’s learning the confidence to avoid confrontation in the first place, or the ability of self-control,” Serio said. Part of that includes plans to one day offer, among other things, a women’s selfdefense class. “Sort of a ladies night out thing,” she said. “And then a class that’s more like tai chi, where it’s more meditative and flowing, and that might be for an earlier morning crowd.” Kids, especially, can benefit from Serio’s experience as they take the discipline they learn on the mat and turn it into a way of life. “One of the things we really focus on especially with the kids is goal setting,” said Serio. “Both short-term and longterm. The belt system and the rank system kind of illustrate what we mean, but I also have students who have set goals for flexibility, or goals for improving their grades in school — different goals that extend beyond our school here, into life.”

One house at a time BY HOLLY KAYS STAFF WRITER Before Karen Walston began running her first extermination route 16 years ago, she had no plans to become The Bug Lady of WNC. At the time, she was doing a part-time office job for a bigger pest control company, but when she asked for more hours she got more than she bargained for. “They said, ‘Women will pay more attention to detail. We’ll put you on a route,’” Walston recalled. Turns out, she loves the work, and something about the way she did her job resonated with clients. Before she knew it, her route had just about outgrown her. Walston stayed at that job for just shy of 10 years, until a series of circumstances led her to launch her own business. She’s owned The Bug Lady of WNC, Inc, for the past seven years and hasn’t looked back. “I’m on the road. My scenery changes every day,” she said. “I service four counties — Jackson, Macon, Swain and Haywood. I’m around Fontana Lake. I’m above the clouds. I see all four seasons every day, just about. Everything is great about my job.” Walston’s day starts at her home in Sylva, where she feeds her dogs and sets out in her bright red truck — nicknamed “Elmo” and adorned with a stuffed animal version of its namesake — for whatever route she’s planned the night before. Much of her work is preventative, quarterly treatments to keep the roaches or termites or what-have-you from making an appearance. But Walston tries to plan her schedule loosely enough so that if she gets a panicked emergency call from someone with an infestation in the same area that she’s working that day, she can fit it in. Walston loves her job, but she also loves the fact that as a business owner she’s in control of her own hours. She’s home by 3:30 p.m. most days, and she has the time to spend many of her evenings over at Western Carolina University, cheering on her beloved Catamount teams. Being from the eastern part of the state, Walston didn’t attend WCU, but she makes up for that fact with her enthusiastic support of today’s teams. “The other teams were getting mad because I wasn’t yelling at their sports like I was yelling at women’s basketball,” Walston laughed. She took that to heart and started expanding her attendance. People tend to panic over infesta-


Bug lady keeps WNC homes pest-free

tions, but part of Walston’s job is to be the calmest person in the room, bringing with her expertise the assurance that the problem will soon be just a memory. “People freak out over roaches, and it’s never as bad as they think it is,” she said. “It’s always fixable. I just did a big cleanout and was out of there in three months. If you spend enough time upfront the first time you go, you start seeing them die off. Three months and I’m done.” Walston’s work takes her to houses owned by wealthy second-homeowners and to the dwellings of people who can barely afford her services. She’s outside in the fresh air and squeezing through crawl

Karen Walston stands with her work truck, affectionately nicknamed “Elmo.” Holly Kays photo

Call the Bug Lady Karen Walston lives in Sylva but services a four-county area for residential and commercial pest control. She is available at 828.243.9318 and spaces. She treats empty homes owned by absent homeowners and knocks on doors opened by clients who have become friends over the course of years. At this point, it’s hard to surprise her. “There’s really nothing that strikes me as being out of the ordinary,” she said. “It’s all work. It’s part of my job to do what I do, which is look at the houses, make sure they’re doing what they need to be doing.” Another part of Walston’s job description? Making friends with all the dogs she comes across. “They call me the dog whisperer,” she said. She comes with pockets full of treats and keeps extensive notes on which dogs live at which house, which animals get scared if she wears a hat and who is frightened by her flip-up sunglasses. “I will sit down and get to know the dogs as much as I will get to know the customers,” she said. “They know I come with cookies.”









Transform yourself with a new look!

Schedule Your Appointment NOW! 300 N. Haywood Street, Waynesville

828-452-2115 ·

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.

“We take care of the whole family,” said Kim. 366 RUSS AVE. (BiLo Shopping Center) | WAYNESVILLE

828.452.2313 14

Find us on facebook:

Women in Business 2017  
Women in Business 2017