By Hollie Deese
The May issue of Your Sumner is themed and dedicated to the strong women in Sumner County who have a passion to help their community grow and be a thriving place. Each of these ladies share a bit of their journey, business and life advice, while telling how they got to where they are today, along with their love for working and living in Sumner County.
Gallatin native Paige Brown has never shied away from being herself, whether it was studying at Florida State University or her career in news and broadcasting, first in Florida, then at The Nashville Network and NewsChannel 5.
She never got Gallatin out of her blood, talking about its charms so often that people joked she should go work at the Chamber. So she did, becoming executive director of the Gallatin Area Chamber of Commerce in 2006.
Then, she made a surprising run at politics and was elected County Commissioner for district six in 2010. “I was trying to encourage people to get engaged in local government – I never dreamed I would,” Paige says.
She made the decision to run for mayor in 2013 after a lot of soul searching and praying, because she wanted to be sure not to deviate from a path she was supposed to be on.
“I really felt like the thought deserved prayerful consideration, and I felt like I was supposed to do it,” Paige says. “I didn’t know that I was supposed to win but I knew, for some reason, I was supposed to run. I had a lot of peace with it. I knew, having that perspective, it was okay if I didn’t win.”
Paige also chose not to listen to the people who told her she needed to change for her mayoral campaign, whether it was what she should wear or how to act. She embraced transparency, keeping her Facebook page public, and can be seen often around town engaging with residents.
“I really reached the realization that if I can’t be authentic in this, I don’t want to win. I wouldn’t be happy in a job where I couldn’t be myself,” Paige says. “You have to be able to be yourself and you have to be authentic. You have to be vulnerable. And get hurt.”
After her 2014 win, Paige was pleasantly surprised by the support she received, even from people who didn’t vote for her. “I think that’s mature,” she says. “Politics in the world of social media is different, it’s hard.”
She has also been blown away by the talent pool working for the city of Gallatin, and the personal commitment many of the employees make to their positions. It has helped her feel like this is truly the place she is supposed to be.
“I was raised in the era where you work your way up, you do everything that’s asked of you,” she says. “My philosophy on work has changed. I believe there is a place for caring for the people you work with.”
In just over a decade, Kara Brumley has made quite a mark on Sumner County. Before she moved here in 2006, she was traveling the country constantly as a corporate franchise consultant in childcare, helping schools with educational quality and business. But life on the road three or four days a week became pretty un-appealing when she was trying to grow her family.
After she gave birth to her twin boys in 2011 she wanted to do something where she could control her hours and launched Modern Babies & Children. Balancing life as a magazine publisher and mom to three small children worked for her because of the flexibility, but she also began to miss being in the education field.
“I always pictured my kids being down the hallway from me,” Kara says. “You never know what you have until it’s gone.”
Now as the director of operations for The Goddard School, in Hendersonville, she gets to use her background in education in new and impactful ways while also bringing in her experience launching and running a business. It’s the perfect use of all her abilities, and after a decade in Sumner County she really knows the families she helps every day. And that makes what she does very personal.
“I get to support the teachers and work with the families, and help with business development, marketing, PR and the community activities,” she says. “It’s really fun here now because it’s like all my friends are here and I get to love on their kids.”
For women afraid to take a leap or make a big change, Kara says you are missing out.
“Change is really the only constant,” she says. “Nothing’s consistent, especially if you’re a mom. Go with it and learn as you go, because I learned so much and I feel like I’m so much better with my role now.”
It also helps to have a strong support system that can help, like Kara’s parents who moved here two years ago. And she also believes in keeping your fun interests separate from your work passion, if possible.
“One of the things that I have lived by was if you have an interest, that may not be the best career choice. If you have something you enjoy doing for fun then it becomes a job, and jobs aren’t always fun. Look at your passions and not just what’s fun. Discover what you are good at and grow your strength and go from there.”
There was no taking the Texas out of Lisa Davis, even after twenty years living in Portland. So she brought Texas to northern Sumner County in 2014 when she took her experience in sales and management and opened Davis & Co. Mercantile, a boutique stocked with rustic, Western art, jewelry, clothing, gifts and accessories.
“I knew what I loved and had for years, and finally decided that it’s really hard to find the rustic Western look in these parts,” Lisa says. “I go out West, all over out West, and buy things before they get to market while they’re still really unique, and bring them back. I try to get a lot of stuff made by hand or that represents an era that’s long gone. It’s all something that just takes you to a place of pride, American pride.”
She also leases space to local artists to showcase their work too.
Just as unique as the items inside is the building Lisa bought to house it. Built in 1912 it was the town’s first bank before the post office took over in 1941. The library was even once housed upstairs. So when she renovated and gutted it to the core over the course of seven months she was able to reveal the original molding, floors and ceiling.
The building is even being added to the National Register of Historic Place at the end of the year thanks to a local college student’s thesis project for her doctorate.
“There’s just a ton of history in that little building,” Lisa says. “People come in all the time and just thank me for bringing this to Portland, for restoring it. It was just a God thing. It all just came together.”
Lisa has since bought the lot next door and will begin hosting the grand opening of the Portland farmers’ market starting June 1 featuring farmers and local crafters. It will be every Thursday 3:30-7pm to coincide with the free Music on Main summer concert series.
“I’m a farm girl from Texas so I just have great respect for that and the city is so encouraged and support it 110 percent,” Lisa says.
When Hendersonville’s Noreen Gibbens purchased the existing Middle Tennessee Audiology a year ago, she was taking a leap of faith based on her years of experience as a doctor of audiology at Henry Ford Health System and at Vanderbilt as the assistant director of the Adult Hearing Technologies program.
“When the opportunity to buy this practice came up my husband and I realized that’s truly what I needed to do at this point in my career, and it’s been awesome,” Noreen says.
In addition to helping people in her community with their hearing loss issues, she’s able to stay local and interact with her neighbors. “It’s just been so much fun to get to know all these people, and get an opportunity to really be part of this community. I wouldn’t trade that for anything right now.”
Making sure people of any income bracket can afford to hear is her top priority. In addition to offering repairs and service, she has teamed up with Vanderbilt’s nonprofit HEAR Nashville to connects people in need with the right audiology resources.
She also reconditions and sanitizes used hearing aids for people who can’t afford new ones, and has started a leasing program with temporary aids so people can try them out.
She hopes to someday have more service center offices and increase staff despite a shortage of hearing professionals.
“It is terrifying at times, a totally different way of thinking about my own profession,” Noreen says of becoming a business owner. “But you keep plugging away, and if something doesn’t work I have to figure out a different way of doing it. You don’t give up and hide in the corner, because tomorrow you need to get back out there.”
Patti Hall was a born entrepreneur, with her very first venture selling homemade perfume when she was in elementary school in Florida. With handmade labels and some serious confidence, she would go door to door to make a sale.
“My mom gave me an old Avon bag and I would put all my little perfumes in there and I’d say, ‘Okay, I’m going,’ and I’d go through the neighborhood and knock on doors and sell my little perfumes,” Patti remembers. “I’d sit down at the coffee table and I’d open up my little case and get out my little perfumes. And they always bought something.”
She moved to Gallatin in 1984 and taught for five years before going back into the business world. “I had a business brain, really,” she says.
When she saw the Gallatin Square in the late 90s, she knew she had to do something there. Inspired by her mother’s work as the wedding coordinator at their church she opened her first business on the Square, Kiss the Bride, in the location where Velvet Antler is today.
“We rented that building and in 1999 the building that I’m in now came up for sale,” she says. “It was Tommy Garrott’s building, Gallatin’s Men’s Store.”
She moved the wedding store and it was doing so well she bought the building next door, that had been used as a haunted house, to create an event space. Of course, everything was black and had a maze of walls, but also had tons of potential. Her first event booked in 2001.
Soon she turned Kiss the Bride into the more versatile boutique Deliberately Chic, with the small in-store café Amberleaf Bistro. But she decided it was time to revamp everything in 2012.
This time, Patti envisioned a shop filled with artisans and crafters from the community. She was inundated with interest from the start and Amberleaf Marketplace was a success. She even had dozens of names on a wait list when she sadly had to close last month to care for her ailing mother.
She still owns both buildings and is weighing her options about leasing or selling.
“I loved the square,” Patti says. “I moved here because of this square. I just always thought it was cute, and that’s why it’s so sad for me because this square could be so amazing. I’ve seen it up and down and up and down, but I stayed because I felt the square was worth it. I thought the people of Gallatin deserved a good square.”
Pam Teller was ready for something sweet in her life. The Ohio native had moved to Hendersonville in 1993 with her husband and young children, but in 2007 their world began to fall apart when her husband developed a mouth sore that never went away.
After medication, biopsies and treatment, the sore would not go away. Eventually, they found out it was neck cancer.
“We knew something was wrong,” Pam says. “We went to doctors and allergists and we went to the Mayo Clinic and nobody could really say what it was. But it was an underlying cancer that went undetected for a long, long time. There were no signs of it in his neck.”
After four years of fighting her husband died at age fifty-eight on Christmas Day 2014.
While her husband was sick, she had passed on her real estate business to her son and didn’t feel right taking it back. Plus, she needed to do something totally different.
“I just started researching jobs that make people happy, careers where it’s a joyful environment. Literally, I just started Googling those words,” she says. One day she received an email listing the top ten franchises for 2014 and Nothing Bundt Cakes was on it. She took a trip to the Nashville location and the moment she walked in she knew she had found her happy place.
“I walked in and I was like ‘Okay, this is it.’ This is what I’m going to do for the rest of my life, where I can walk in everyday and bring laughter and celebration and smiles to people instead of just sadness all the time,” she says. “The bakery was kind of opened in my husband’s honor and for his legacy.”
She has already hosted a few fundraisers too, one for a local mother’s adoption, another for a little girl who needed a service dog trained.
“We give to the community because the community is really what supports us,” she says. “And I get to tell people all the time I’ve got the greatest job in the world. People walk in my door and say, ‘We love you!’”
But almost a year and a half after opening and Pam still doesn’t have a favorite flavor of cake – sometimes it’s cinnamon in the morning with a cup of coffee and sometimes it’s chocolate because she’s had rough day.
It’s her employees who help her handle work life better than chocolate ever could, though it’s a close second.
“The people that work here are really the success of the bakery,” Pam says. “We just have a fabulous team that works together.”