Three Reasons You Should Go With Your Gut

3 Reasons You Should

Go With Your Gut

When you are charting your own course, be prepared for people to say you are losing your mind. My parents said those words in 2010 when I told them I was going to purchase a 4,000-square-foot warehouse space in downtown Lexington, Kentucky. They questioned not only the location, which is frequented by industrial trucks, but also the intention of opening an upscale special-events venue on a street better known for its junkyards and towed cars. Nearly seven years later and with five venues running successfully, I’m glad I listened to my gut.

I have more than 25 years of experience as an entrepreneur in the entertainment industry.

Here’s what I learned, which I hope helps you as a fellow female leader and entrepreneur:

1. Listen to your gut and not everyone around you.

Not only did my partner Jill Bakehorn and I make that significant purchase in 2010, I also had 4-month-old triplets! I had spent 15 years of working late nights after opening and managing a successful nightclub business in Lexington. It was time for me to make a change, which led to a series of BIG changes at the SAME time.

Again, if I listened to everyone around me, except for Jill, I would have ran away from the purchase.  However, I knew in my gut there was a wonderful, creative opportunity sitting in front of me. I also knew the property would take endless amounts of work (which it continues to do), but the entrepreneurial spirit in me told me to go for it.

We now have five industrial-chic, bourbon-themed event venues under the brand of Venues of The Grand Reserve. Each unique, the venues include: The Grand Reserve, The Barrel House Events Center, Garden Branch, The Speakeasy Room and Distillery Square, to open in March 2017.

Kelly (left) and Jill

2. Keep evolving; you have to spend money to make money.

Our business exploded so quickly because we created something new in Central Kentucky that made event-planning an easy one-stop shop. Jill is the co-owner of Bluegrass Catering, which is the exclusive caterer for Venues of The Grand Reserve. She and I also do the majority of the hard work – yes, hammers, saws and nail guns – and have the scars to prove it! We purchased A/V, linens, tables, chairs, décor, etc. When you have consistent conversations with customers about their needs and put things in place to fill those needs, your business will grow quickly.

3. If you believe you can do it, you can.

The road has been long, but worth it. Case in point: In 2010, after extensive remodeling and processes to meet city codes, the first space was transformed into The Barrel House Events Center and opened in the fall. After successfully opening The Barrel House, we purchased a 6,000-square-foot vacant, gravel lot across the street which we bulldozed into a lush outdoor space to hosts weddings and corporate meals.

Not ones to rest on our laurels, in 2012, we bought an 11,000-square-foot covered parking garage in the same warehouse as The Barrel House Events Center. I obtained my General Contractor’s license to head the building and design of the new space. Named The Grand Reserve, this venue features a wall of more than two miles of Kentucky bourbon-barrel staves, which Jill and I designed and built. In 2015, we purchased the remaining square footage (25K) of the warehouse and its surrounding building and parking lots. This space was made into The Speakeasy Room and the coming-soon Distillery Square.

If Jill and I didn’t believe whole-heartedly in this business, we would have stopped a long time ago. The hours are long, vendors and clients can be challenging, the overhead is high, and the projects never end. But, we LOVE what we’ve created and continue to take to the next level. We hope to pass this business on to the triplets, who are growing up at Venues of The Grand Reserve.  As strong women, we are often our worst critics. Let’s stop doing that and do more listening to our gut, evolving, and believing we can do it!

Kelly King Bakehorn

The Lexington, KY-based Kelly King Bakehorn is the co-owner, founder and event manager of Venues of The Grand Reserve. She has more than 25 years of experience as a dynamic entrepreneur in the entertainment industry. Based in Lexington’s historic, yet ever-evolving Distillery District, the five unique venues include: The Grand Reserve, The Barrel House Events Center, Garden Branch, The Speakeasy Room and Distillery Square.

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