Open for Success
When Nan Stafford decided to open Loggerheads LLC, a retail store in Main Street Village on Hilton Head Island, she was combining four of her greatest passions: business, sea turtles, third-world countries and change.
Nan has been a businesswoman for 30 years, but she never dreamed of owning a store until she became inspired to venture into a new and completely foreign industry on a trip to Haiti in March 2009. "I have always had a love for third-world countries and hand-crafted things, so after the inspiration I gained from Haiti and Julia Rush [a business owner in Hickory, NC], plus my need for something to do, I decided to open up a retail store," Nan said.
Nan opened Loggerheads in April 2010. The store boasts hand-crafted items from the United States, Canada, locals and third-world countries. Although all the articles are unique, one common theme in the store is the obvious presence of sea turtle merchandise. "I decided to name the store Loggerheads because of a book by Mary Allison Monroe called The Beach House. I have always been fascinated how loggerheads travel to West Africa and stay for years, then return to Hilton Head Island to lay eggs; it's very symbolic," Nan said. "We give turtle information to anyone who asks for it, and we also partner with Coastal Discovery Museum in their adopt-a-nest program."
Despite Nan's obvious love for crafts and a knack for retail, opening up the store was never something she planned on doing. "If you had told me a year ago I would open up a retail store in Hilton Head, I would have said you were crazy," Nan laughed.
She has worked in the healthcare industry for 30 years, and ten years ago opened a business in Virginia with her husband to offer home healthcare to individuals with mental disabilities. They still own the business, but Nan now splits her time between Virginia and Hilton Head. "When we started our first business, I read 'How to Start a Small Business for Dummies' cover to cover and used a Magic Eight Ball to make all my decisions. When I decided to start this second company, I bought 'How to Start a Retail Business for Dummies' and once again, read it cover to cover, but this time I left the eight ball at home," she said with a smirk. "I have always been a business woman, but this retail business is really fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants!"
Nan's successes as a business woman in both industries can be attributed to her dedication to research, but more importantly her courage and openness to trying new things. "One question that has always stuck with me is, 'What would you attempt to do if you knew you would succeed?'. So many people are afraid to take chances because they think they will fail, but how do they know unless they try? I may be the only idiot opening up a retail store in a recession, but I don't care."
Another thing Nan has learned through owning a small business is what it takes to be a successful employer. "One of the biggest mistakes employers make is to fear hiring someone who may be more educated or qualified than they are. I've learned to hire people who have what I don't have and then learn to delegate responsibilities and be trusting. Employees can be the most creative and successful when they know their boss will have their backs if they mess up. That is how a successful company is built."
So what's next for Nan? Although she currently does all of her business through a fair-trade company, she hopes to one day retain a license to buy and sell items herself, which will open the door to world-wide travelling. But for the time being, Nan is happy where she is and always open to whatever opportunities may come her way. "When the store opened in April, I turned to my friend and said, 'Open up a retail store in Hilton Head: Check!' Stay tuned, you never know what I will do next."
Family: Husband, Ed; Daughters, Ellen (23) and Emma (18)
Hobbies: Cooking, reading, making earrings, and playing Bridge
Hometown: Hickory, NC, currently living in Christiansburg, VA and Hilton Head, SC
Another impact from Haiti: Sponsoring two boys in college. "They call me Mama Nan."
Mottos in business: "What would you attempt if you knew you would succeed", "Every day, do something that scares you" and "If you build it, they will come."