Diving Into Nitty Gritty of Business Details Helps Launch a Creative Success
Elyse Kane had been living in Jackson, WY, for a couple of years when she realized that the job market was not going to provide what she needed. If she wanted to stay, she needed a change. Kane had owned several businesses in the past and was familiar with entrepreneurship, so she felt confident with the idea of starting a business to support herself there.
Kane says she took a very personal look at what her core values were in starting a new business. The answer for her was “freedom, community and creativity.” That meant the business she was to start needed to encompass those values.
“Because I didn’t have any startup funds, I looked around at what my resources were, and one of them was my Airstream camper,” says Kane. “I thought about how I could use that creatively in a business, and that’s how it all started.”
Kane says she thought about Jackson wedding venues that offered fabulous views and grass, but nothing else. Everything else was trucked in. She had the idea of using her resources – her Airstream – and making it into a mobile venue space, which would give her flexibility and made use of her creativity and interior design background.
“I consider myself a space-maker,” says Kane. “I knew this idea could really be a centerpiece at an outdoor venue and give people a very eye-catching focal point of an event.”
Kane went on to plan out a new business that she would call Lux Lounge, which would rent out high-end, unique custom Airstreams and trailers that have been converted into bars for special events – weddings, private, corporate and non-profit events, and product launches. She would deliver the trailer to the event on-site, and the event host could use the space as they wish with a third party caterer and/or bartender if they so desire.
But she needed funding to get Lux Lounge started and the Airstreams renovated to her vision.
Kane approached the Wyoming Women’s Business Center (WWBC) and Waldo Smith, Director of Microlending, about a loan. Smith helped her secure that initial loan for $33,000 in May of 2017 to refurbish a second Airstream into a venue space. Lux Lounge was officially in business.
“Waldo exudes caring, and when you’re just starting out, it was so helpful,” says Kane. “One thing that I’m so grateful for is that I can be utterly transparent with Waldo about where I am in my business. The ability to feel that there’s no judgment and only help is really great.”
Kane says she went through the loan application training, and continues to watch the business webinars that the WWBC offers. She also took advantage of business counseling with Christine Langley, Business Counselor with the WWBC.
“Christine helped me look at where I have gaps that I needed to fill in with the business, like when it makes sense to outsource,” says Kane. “If I need support, it’s just good to know [the WWBC] is there. They know where I’m at in my business and can look at areas where I can improve. Waldo and Christine are wonderfully and gently instructive.”
Now in the Fall of 2019, Lux Lounge has just finished its second summer season, and employs Kane full time, while she contracts out the labor to refurbish the trailers. Kane continues to add events in additional states for the off-season, including California, Arizona, Nevada and New York. Kane has applied for another loan with the WWBC, which will fund an expansion into California in the winter to reach past the seasonality of the Wyoming business.
Kane says she is grateful for the WWBC funding and business counseling support to bring Lux Lounge to where it is now, and that Smith and Langley’s willingness to dive into the details with her was paramount.
“I feel like the caliber of counseling that Waldo and Christine are giving is better than most,” says Kane. “Sometimes business counseling is a big overview and not necessarily the nitty gritty of how to go about a business. They get in the trenches with me.”
“There’s a qualitative difference in their work. It’s not just ‘go do that’, but more like ‘here’s how you do it, step-by-step’. And I think that’s why their help is so effective.”