Not many people start a business the same month they graduate from college, but that’s exactly what 23 year-old Stacey Davis plans to do. With only a few months left till the grand opening, Stacey balances homework assignments with discussing lease agreements.
When Stacy enrolled at Patrick Henry Community College at 17, she had no idea what major to pick, what future to pursue or what she was even capable of. Three majors, six years and one ambitious business idea later, Stacey would become a driven entrepreneur with a clear goal and plan to see it happen.
Changes came in Stacey’s life gradually. One such change occurred when PHCC introduced a new program – the Patriot Players. In 2013, when Stacey was pursuing her associate degree in Recreation, Parks, and Leisure Studies, she auditioned for the Players’ first production. Although Stacey had never acted before, she was excited to have an opportunity to dance. Stacey had danced since she was three years old, and had even taught dance at a studio as a student-teacher. Since she had started college, however, opportunities to dance were scarce. The Patriot Players became an outlet for Stacey to keep pursuing what she loved.
Joining the Patriot Players was a seemingly minor decision that would start a series of major changes in Stacey’s life.
“The Patriot Players’ goal is to encourage and to coach, and that was exactly what Stacey needed,” says Patriot Player Program Director Devin Pendleton. “When Stacey came to her first audition, she seemed timid and unsure. Every audition since, she had bloomed more and more. Today, she beautifully caries herself with confidence.”
Not only did the Patriot Players help Stacey grow in her self-confidence, the program also helped her get connected on campus and learn to network.
“There is so much help at PHCC,” explains Stacey. “You need to get involved and make relationships. The faculty and staff really care. You can ask them anything, and they are so willing to help you.”
Building confidence, cultivating relationships and dancing became the foundations for the next series of changes that were coming in Stacey’s life.
In the summer of 2014, Stacey graduated with her Associates in Recreation, Parks, and Leisure Studies. Without a plan or even an idea for her future, Stacey was not ready to move on. She decided to try again with a different major, one she hoped would better prepare her for a career that she still couldn’t envision. All she was really certain of was that she wanted to continue dancing and to stay in Martinsville.
In fall 2014, Stacey started pursuing a degree in small business management and entrepreneurship. By the middle of the first semester, it became apparent that she had stumbled upon exactly the major that would prepare her for her future. Sitting in Small Business Management, the pieces suddenly came together in her mind and a vision for her future career path emerged.
She loved dancing. She loved Martinsville. Both of these things had a need that she could fill. Dancers in Southern Virginia needed a dancewear store. Martinsville needed young entrepreneurs. Quickly, the spark of an idea became a plan. Before the end of that semester, Stacey began working to open Infinity Dancewear in Downtown Martinsville.
Suddenly, everything that she gained by joining the Patriot Players became so pertinent: self-confidence, networking, and even the opportunity to dance. Particularly, the network she built at PHCC became a decisive source of support for her.
“Being connected at the PHCC has been one of the most important things,” said Stacey.
She explains that she found a mentor in her business teacher, Tim Martin. Through his encouragement and guidance, Stacey applied for and won the Small Business Investment Forum Awards in Martinsville. This award will give Stacey’s business a financial boost and will provide mentoring for the first year.
Of this award Stacey explained, “This funding was one of the final steps I needed to get my dream business off the ground. I’m excited and can’t wait to serve the dance community!”
Through the Patriot Players, Stacey also got to know Dr. Godwin, the president of PHCC. “Godwin teaches business and entrepreneurship around the state, and she’s told me I am welcome to come to her any time for advice.”
In May 2016, Stacey will graduate with her Associates in Small Business Management and she will open Infinity Dancewear on Main Street in Martinsville. When she first came to PHCC, Stacey had no idea where she would wind up and what she might do. Now, she beams with excitement whenever she talks about her future.
“If I could give any piece of advice to incoming freshmen, I would tell them to get involved, work hard and make relationships. Because these things have made the biggest difference in my life,” said Stacey.