Journal-Times (Grayson, KY)

February 13, 2013

Olive Hill entrepreneur embodies success, service

By Joe Lewis - Staff Writer
Journal-Times

Feb. 13, 2013 — Successful entrepreneur. Keen mentor. Passionate volunteer. It's hard to get very far in a conversation about Teresa Brown before one or all of these superlatives winds up being mentioned.

For Brown, the path to becoming a successful businessperson began early in life, when at age 15, when she took her first job stocking shelves at a Dollar General Store.

“Business is something that became really ingrained in me when I worked there. I really enjoyed interacting with customers and recommending products that they might be interested in buying. I really liked that aspect of retail business,” Brown says

After working her way through college at Morehead State University, Brown spent three years managing retail stores in Lexington before returning to Carter County when she became engaged to her long-time boyfriend, Craig Brown.

It was then when she took a job as a buyer at Star's Fashion World in Ashland – an experience that left a tangible and lasting impact on her life.

“I got to take all the customer feedback and then use it to make decisions about the products we carried in the store. It was a chance to put my knowledge and experience to practical use,” Brown reflects.

“Also, the owners there were really my mentors. It was an independent business that they had owned for years. I got to see their family makeup and how it worked within the business.”

She would then go on to become the director of the campus bookstore at MSU, and eventually even own her own floral shop, where she would take on a new challenge – juggling parenthood while running a small business.

“My daughter was very young at the time. My husband worked on the road and wasn't home very often. It was a difficult period for all of us.”

After selling the floral shop, Brown then made a career shift by going into business with her husband, helping him open Craig's Auto Sales. That business is still thriving, having opened a second location just last year.

Her passion, however, is helping other small business owners achieve the kind of success that she has experienced.

“I was part of the first class of the Kentucky Entrepreneurial Coaches Institute in 2004, where we focused on taking the idea of entrepreneurship and give it a more positive image within the community.”

“I really liked that idea. Being a small business owner, I understood the kinds of struggles that these people experience. This was a training program that didn't just focus on how to start a business, but how to use small business to make a difference in the community.”

It's that philosophy that Brown clings to as the driving force behind her mentoring approach, as well as her involvement with various organizations throughout the community.

“In order to make things happen, you have to work from the ground up. People have to take an active role in making positive change within the community.”

“My vision for Olive Hill is that it would be a thriving town, but not necessarily the thriving town of the past. It can't be the town it was before, and I don't want that, but we have to come up with a workable plan so we can all work together to move forward into the future.”

Joe Lewis can be reached at jlewis@journal-times.com or by telephone at 286-4201.