What More Could a Girl Ask For?
by Sheila Shirah Kaitif
Confidence. Empowerment. Happiness.
A plethora of things can incite these feelings in a woman, but a fresh cup of coffee and a fresh new hairstyle rank at the top of the list. Fortunately, we in Osceola County don’t have to venture far at all to find a top-notch hair salon or a cozy, quality coffee shop-we only need to go to Downtown St. Cloud to Salon Emvy and Southern Grounds. Not only are these businesses located in the same building, but they are owned and operated by two young women who also happen to be sister in laws and members of one of Osceola County’s original pioneering families. Kristen Lanier of Southern Grounds and Emilee Lanier of Salon Emvy took the time to share with us some background information on their businesses, advice for other aspiring female entrepreneurs, and what it is like to be both a mom and a business owner.
What inspired you to start up your own business?
KRISTEN: I would have to say my family. Both my family and Chris (my husband) family have owned and operated their own small businesses for 30+ years. Growing up and seeing the relationships in the community that having those small businesses created-and still continue to this day-taught me so much and I cherish that.
EMILEE: I wouldn’t say “what” inspired me as much as I would say “who”. My son Caydan was my inspiration. He is and always will be my #1 motivation! I wanted to have the flexibility to be at every event for him and be 100% present. I knew in order to do that I had to have full control over my career.
How long have you had the desire to open your own business?
KRISTEN I have always wanted to follow in my family tradition, but first went into medicine for almost nine years before deciding coffee was the right choice.
EMILEE: I shockingly didn’t want to own a salon. I was perfectly content with working for someone and just showing up to do my work and not having to worry about anything else. It wasn’t until a few years into my career where I realized all the opportunities we as hairstylists are given or have at our fingertips. So then I began to write
everything down, and a few short months later I was opening up my studio salon.
What advice do you have for other young women who want to start up their own business?
KRISTEN: Some advice from me to other women about opening their own business is to JUST DO IT.
Sometimes that is easier said than done with finances and start-up costs, but if you can find a way to fulfill the dream, do whatever it takes. It is so rewarding in the end. Don’t get me wrong, I loved working in the medical field for eight years and helping people in a different way, but I wish I would have done this sooner. I have never been happier. I absolutely love waking up and coming to the shop and mixing up drinks for everyone, meeting new people in the community, hearing about them and what they do, and receiving positive feedback on the shop is uplifting. Do not give up on your dreams!
EMILEE Go for your dreams. You won’t know until you try it. Take risks! INVEST the time! I have learned that with any speed bumps that come about, there is always a solution. The best advice I have been given is to take five minutes to think about the issue. What needs to be done? Is it fixable? Can anyone help? Then take the steps to do it.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need to, someone else has already been there and gone through it before. Asking for advice doesn’t make you a bad owner. Also, don’t take shortcuts-even if it feels like a pointless step, there is a reason it is there!
What is your long-term vision for your business?
KRISTEN: My long-term vision for Southern Grounds is not only to grow the business but to become a positive staple for the community. We strive to keep as much as we can local and support other local businesses. I truly hope people will continue to love what we are doing and the exciting things ahead and to be around for a long time.
EMILEE: Long term, I want to keep growing a successful team of stylists and maybe eventually teaching or instruction. Who knows what is in store, the opportunities for the future are
What would you like your customers to know about you and your business?
KRISTEN: As I previously mentioned, prior to fulfilling this dream as a craft coffee shop owner I worked as an Orthopedic and Dermatology Medical Assistant and X-Ray Technician for eight years. I am from Fort Myers, Florida-another small town much like St. Cloud. My husband, Chris Lanier, and I both come from families that own and operate small businesses. Chris and I began this journey about a year ago. We had a passion for coffee and the culture it brings, so when Emilee (my sister in law) came to me about this salon/coffee shop collaboration, I was ecstatic and excited for my dream to come to life. My favorite thing about the coffee industry is the diversity that it brings. Even if you don’t like coffee, it can still bring people together to socialize, get work done, or just relax in the environment. That is my hope for our shop, to bring people together in a relaxing and welcoming environment over good craft coffee or craft tea that Chris and I have created.
EMILEE: Best customer service. I want them to know that they are wanted. I never want them to feel out of place, each client that walks in the door is just as important as the last one out that door.
How do you balance being an entrepreneur and a mother?
KRISTEN: This would not at all be possible without the support not only from my husband, but from my entire family. Each and every person helps keep my dream a reality. Whether it is helping with Connor (our four month old son), or picking up milk when we have had an extra busy Saturday, there is always something to do or be done and without all of them none of this would be possible. I love being a mother and I love being a small business owner in our small town, St. Cloud, Florida.
EMILEE: Ha, ha!! I don’t know how I do it, sometimes I don’t even think I’m doing it at all, then I just take a deep breath and try it again. I do push myself to always try and better myself. I think this is what works best for me and keeps me motivated. I will tell you that having a good support system is key! My family is amazing and I could not do it without them.
Southern Grounds is located at 1022 10th Street and Salon Emvy is located at 1018 10th Street, St. Cloud. Give them a “like” on Facebook, and go check them out in person and treat yourself!