The Searcy Small Business Revolution has seen a boost from the creativity and drive of Harding’s young alumni, and even if Searcy is not chosen to be featured in the TV series, local business owners are already benefitting.
Benjamin DuBose is a Harding graduate who started a hair salon in downtown Searcy called Benjamin’s in January 2017. At the time, he was a full-time student majoring in Bible, a husband and father and working 30 hours a week at a salon. DuBose wanted to offer a better experience for people, so he created a space where people could get their hair cut in a unique environment in Searcy.
“I wanted to create a place that gives me life as well as giving anybody else that comes in here life,” DuBose said. “I believe in every exchange with people, you either give life or you take. So unless you are giving life in your interactions with others, you will probably end up taking life from them.”
His business has been involved in the Searcy Small Business Revolution, the movement to promote Searcy to win $500,000 and be featured on the TV show, by hanging up fliers, talking about the Revolution to clients and attending the events to promote the Revolution.
“What I love about the Small Business Revolution is the validation it gives to those of us trying to do new things,” Dubose said. “Even if we do not get anything and we stop today with the Small Business Revolution, we’ve already been validated.”
Liz Howell, vice president of alumni and parent relations, said the young alumni of Harding have truly started the revolution. She said over 200 businesses are participating in the revolution, but since the average age of people living in Searcy is 28, many of the local businesses are started and operated by Harding alumni.
“It’s all about storytelling,” Howell said.
Amelia Brackett, Harding alumna and owner of Savor and Sip Creperie and Coffeehouse, started her business because she has always loved hosting people. She also wanted to make a place where people, specifically Harding students, could come to study in the afternoon and evening. Brackett and her business have been involved since the beginning of the Small Business Revolution by posting on social media, hosting the producers of the show when they came to visit, hanging up posters and spreading the word by conversations with customers.
“Searcy would be a good pick because it’s small, [and] because it has Harding,” Brackett said. “It has so much more going for it. If Searcy didn’t have Harding, it’d be like any other little town. Harding brings culture and diversity and life that small towns around us don’t get.”
Brackett believes if Searcy is the winner of Small Business Revolution, it would help small businesses thrive and encourage more Harding students after graduation to stick around.
“I think growth would stagnate if Harding alumni didn’t come back to Searcy,” Brackett said.
On Feb. 12, Small Business Revolution will announce the top five cities to be considered to win with public voting fo the top-five opening directly after the announcement.