What is your full name, title, and business name?
Stacy Stultz, Owner/Creator of [gath•er]
Give us a summary of your business in 200 words or less.
[gath•er] is a one of a kind rental venue in the heart of historic Downtown Delaware, Ohio. A charming and versatile space that is perfect for any gathering including, but not limited to, social gatherings, life event gatherings, and corporate or creative gatherings. We are a raw space with real potential. You can unlock that potential by taking on the natural state of the space and bringing to life your own creative ideas. Or, you can trust our vision as we guide you through planning, sourcing, and realizing your ideas. Through all of this, we give you the freedom to work independently, claiming the space as your own, or to collaborate and allow us to support your prep and process with a more hands-on approach. We offer packages for all scenarios and will work with you to accommodate your individual needs.
How did the idea for your business come about?
My husband and I are residents of Delaware and we are very passionate about the growth and success of our community and downtown. We always dreamed of owning a space, as well as a business, that was rooted in the spirit of bringing people together; hence the definition of gather: to bring together. Our vision is that [gath•er] will be a platform to enhance and encourage positive community collaboration. We believe in the power of connection and hope to cultivate relationships by creating a destination where the community, neighbors, and friends of Delaware and beyond can come together to connect, collaborate, celebrate, create, and even collect!
What was the turning point for your business? Was there a moment you knew you had something special?
We owned our building in downtown Delaware for almost two years before we knew exactly what we were going to do with it. When the idea of [gath•er] started taking shape, I would share it with friends and other local entrepreneurs and business owners whom I trusted to get feedback. I knew in my gut that we would be filling a niche in our community that was desired and that is exactly the feedback I continued to receive from others. It wasn’t too long, within days actually, after we went live with our website and social media that we were receiving inquiries and booking dates for people to rent the space. It is truly a blessing that we have people that love our venue and our downtown and want to support small and local businesses. We knew [gath•er] was something special because it was created with so much heart and passion for giving back to our community.
What does it mean to you to be an entrepreneur and business owner?
Coming off of an almost 20 year career in corporate retail, I feel extremely grateful to not only have the skills and business experience for entrepreneurship but I am reminded everyday of my role and the positive impact that I can have on my community. Knowing that I am creating an environment where people can benefit from our hard work is what drives me every day. It is such a blessing to get to shape and flesh out my own dream and vision knowing that it will play an integral part in the bigger picture of preserving our vibrant downtown.
What does the city of Columbus mean to your business?
The changes and evolution that we’ve seen for Columbus over the past several years has been such an inspiration. The energy and excitement of such a booming city has me, as a small business owner, feeling inspired and motivated to be a part of shaping other areas of Columbus to be just as dynamic and on-trend. Downtown Delaware is an already thriving, but growing community and to have Columbus and other neighborhoods of Columbus as examples to follow is super exciting and crucial in our path to success. The ultimate vision for gather is that we are not only a venue that brings people together in Delaware, but we create a platform for collaboration with others from all over Columbus.
Are you from Columbus? If not, please explain what brought you to here and ultimately what made you stay.
Yes, I was born and raised in Westerville. I graduated from The Ohio State University and from there I found myself jumping into the corporate retail world where most of my career has been spent right here in Columbus.
What’s the number one piece of advice you’d give to anyone wanting to start a business?
I am a bit of a dreamer so I will be the first one to tell people to follow your heart, your dream, and your passion. I truly believe that if you pursue the things that drive you and bring you joy, success will follow. Be prepared for the risk and the ups and downs that come with entrepreneurship, but enjoy the gift of being able to do something you love.
What do you wish you knew about entrepreneurship before starting your business?
Entrepreneurship is a game of endurance, mentally and physically. Persistence and confidence are key to running your business, even more important than skill itself. Having a hustler mentality gets you through the ups and downs and, quite frankly, I truly believe perseverance and grit is actually what brings luck. I do lean on my skill, my knowledge, my talents, however, it’s persistence that gets you through the entrepreneurial struggles.
What’s the most challenging part of your business (i.e, what keeps you up at night)?
All of the ideas; so so many ideas. I am a creative thinker, so when you are first starting out and you are essentially a one man show it feels overwhelming to tackle execution on all of the ideas you have for how your business will move forward. What comes hand in hand with that is knowing when to take the risk of hiring more people. I have a vision for building a team that will ultimately help grow the business, but timing of when to take that leap is definitely something that keeps me up at night.
Every business owner has a flaw. What’s yours?
I’m an over-thinker. I do pride myself in the fact that I am analytical, but sometimes my overthinking tendencies take over and I fully recognize that it can be harmful to my mindset or take away from actually seeing the positive in a situation.
Why do you think most business owners fail? What has made you different?
Being in touch with your market, your customer base, is crucial in the success of your business. We often times see business owners so focused on their unique idea or business model that they don’t leave room for evolution, feedback, or swift change. Being open, going into everyday with open eyes, open ears, and an open heart is what I feel makes me different. I am a confident person, but I’m not afraid to ask for feedback. Leave your ego at home and be open to dialogue; it will open so many doors!
What was your biggest mistake and what did it cost you?
Honestly, my biggest mistake was not following my heart and gut sooner. I went into entrepreneurship initially with a partner that, for me, felt safe. [gath•er] didn’t even exist in my mind at this point. I found myself grasping on to her vision and following her lead because it made everything less scary. Along the way I felt my heart tugging at me that I was not in the right place, but I continued on. This venture cost me and my family a lot of money and time. It even almost made me lose sight of the possibility of ever trying my own thing. I was ready to put myself right back in the corporate grind because that was my safe place. But, like I said before, perseverance was what got me through and I am so thankful that I didn’t give up. Through all of that, [gath•er] became a dream and is now a reality. Overall, I wouldn’t change anything because I think it is our mistakes, as much as our successes, that teach us about ourselves and life in general.
What tool has helped you the most for your business (invoicing, accounting, shipping, plugin for website, etc.)?
I am still experimenting with different ways to manage and streamline my overall business. There are so many great client management software programs out there, but I will say a smaller scale step that I made to help with efficiency was directly invoicing my customers through QuickBooks. It was short lived, but I was only accepting checks in the beginning and exchanging contracts and payments through snail mail. Making daily runs to the bank was a time sucker!
When did you know it was time to expand your business, make your first hire, etc.?
As I mentioned, we are still in the beginning phases of launching our business so I am still very much focused on successfully executing our introduction to the world. Thankfully, I am already having to contemplate growth and currently living on the cusp of internal expansion. Due to having so much faith in what [gath•er] can bring to the community, and knowing that we have so many innovative ideas, I’m feeling the nudge that it is time to hire to help bring these creative plans to fruition.
What is something that you did that was a game changer for your business?
I stopped underestimating the value of my time and the time that others were putting into the business. I quickly realized that I needed to put a true value to our time so that we could appropriately manage and prioritize the business. Being an entrepreneur creates blurred lines between business and personal life, so figuring this out fast is crucial to creating a healthy balance and making smart decisions.
What was an idea that you spent a lot of time on or thought would make a big difference in your business that didn’t pan out.
I am so proud of our desire to be innovative with our space, but I am realizing that it is way more challenging to be unconventional and getting others to buy into your ideas. I have put a lot of time into brainstorming unique ways that we can collaborate with others in our space, but it only works if the other party is willing to try new things and take a risk in investing in a new business. I am reminded that being “new” means you are “unproven,” so convincing others to jump on board with your ideas, or invest, is more challenging than I imagined.
What is something that your business spends a lot of money on that’s worth it?
Definitely the design and build out of our space. Our main investment is focused around creating comfort and beauty in our space while preserving the historic nature of the building. We are selling an environment, a space where people can come and feel at home and feel inspired while making lifelong memories. It is important to us that when our clients pay to use the space, they see and feel the value.
What is something you’re working on now that you’re very excited about?
Right now the majority of our business comes from private rentals and we love that! However, we are super excited to be announcing some really cool community events that we will be hosting throughout the year that will be rooted in the idea of collaboration and highlighting other local entrepreneurs/artists. It will bring a whole new dynamic to the downtown centered around experiential retail. It will offer the perfect opportunity for makers, artists, crafters, bakers, Etsy owners, and the like to showcase their talents in a fun and collaborative environment.
What form of marketing is the most valuable for you?
Social media has been key in launching my business. It is what keeps my community and followers engaged and close to what we are we doing. It acts not only as marketing tool, but it’s what keeps the dialogue going with my customer base. The real time advantages to social media platforms allow me to engage in a timely manner with my customers and it also helps me stay on top of better understanding the needs of my customer base.
Who is your best Columbus resource (accountant, lawyer, marketer, etc.)?
Who do you vent to when you have a business problem?
My best friends. I feel extremely blessed to have such amazing and smart women that surround me and make up my very small circle of true friends. These ladies will hear me out, but they offer the best advice and always have a perspective that either compliments or challenges my thinking; I love that! They inspire me to be and do better.
Where do you see your business in the next 10 years?
In 10 years, I see a super talented team, that includes my children, running the business, evolving the business, and continuing to make a mark on shaping our community. I see sub-brands that will strengthen and echo the values of [gath•er] and will provide opportunities for showcasing talents in other ways. We are truly focused on social innovation and connection within the community. So, having paved the way for that makes me hope that in 10 years we have, and still are, revolutionizing the way we build community.
What is your revenue range?
Under $50,000 (but we’re growing)
What was the single worst decision you made regarding your business and how’d you recover?
We purchased our building in downtown Delaware two years before launching the business, so my biggest regret is not doing something sooner. Funding a second mortgage for so long was a financial strain on our family that we are now working really hard to make up for.
When you’re stressed or overwhelmed, what do you do to overcome this feeling?
I will talk it out with someone, usually a fellow business owner that I trust. You know, those go-to friends whom you can rely on to talk you off the ledge.
What’s one component of entrepreneurship that’s much different than what most people think?
Entrepreneurship is a difficult and complex path. I think most people think it’s glamorous and full of constant excitement and reward. What they may not know is that being an entrepreneur takes a unique mindset that involves overcoming all of the setbacks, challenges, and stress that comes with this venture. Having a positive mental attitude and the ability to see challenges as opportunities is key to progress.
What’s your end goal with the business? Is this something you want to pass down to your kids or would you like to eventually sell?
I don’t know that I have an end goal per say, but I do look forward to the evolution of our business. I also have a vision of passing this down to my kids, however, I have a really open mind and open heart and I tend to follow my instincts. Who knows what opportunities may come our way over the next few years, but we are always open to being inspired by new challenges.
What other entrepreneur do you look up to most?
Kim Pheiffer of KP Designs & Associates is someone that inspires me on so many levels. She is such a humble and kind human while being such a magnetic and powerful female leader in the entrepreneurial world. She is smart, sharp, open, honest, talented, and so much more. She truly sets the example as a business leader in her industry and beyond.
Mary Ernst of Rose Bredl is also someone that I have looked up to for a very long time. She ventured into the entrepreneurial world over 10 years ago with a vision for a lifestyle brand/floral design retail studio and was one of the first to pave the way for experiential retail. She is an inspiring leader who sets the example of authenticity by staying true to herself and her passion, building her business as an extension of who she is and what she believes in. She is proof that hard work, a hands on approach, perseverance, and strong vision will get you far.
If you had to tell a visitor one thing to do/see/eat in Columbus, what would it be?
Come check out Downtown Delaware!! Just a little north, we are Columbus’ best kept secret!