Wilson Bank & Trust celebrates 30th anniversary
A lot has changed for Wilson Bank & Trust after three decades. But then other things, like their commitment to their community, customers and employees, have continued to stay strong the years.
The original bank location was in a small, two-bedroom home — where their main office is today at 623 West Main St. in Lebanon — says Randall Clemons, CEO of Wilson Bank & Trust. A group of businessmen decided back in December 1986 to form a bank because the two local banks had sold to large holding company banks, Clemons explains.
“We started the process on Feb. 1 and raised $5 million from 800 local stockholders and opened in 90 days,” he says. “We had a tremendous response in the sale of stock and people purchasing stock that had never owned stock before.”
The bank has continued to grow since then, starting with eight employees the year they opened to now having 475.
“Our employees have made our bank by being servants to our customers and to each community that we serve,” Clemons says. “Our employees believe that we always treat our customers like we want to be treated.”
That mindset has paid off. They now have 27 offices in eight counties, with their newest location being in Metro Nashville. Clemons says they also have plans to open an office in Williamson County and additional offices in the counties they currently serve.
“We have been a community bank in each community that we serve and tried to make the community better as a result of our office being there,” Clemons says. “We have community boards in each community that we serve to help us be sure that we meet the needs of the community.”
The bank has a lot to celebrate, including their 30th anniversary. To show their gratitude for all of the support through the years, the bank is committed to giving $30,000 to the community.
“We believe we have a responsibility to give back to our communities and meet the needs of each,” he says.
They’ve also recognized this important 30-year milestone with family fun days in all of the county’s they serve and a larger-than-normal Oktoberfest. They will also continue the celebration with their Christmas Open House and Christmas parades in the counties where they’re located.
When it comes to the secret to the banks three-decade success, Clemons says it comes down to serving customers and the community — and also having professional employees who are team players.
Community is important to Wilson Bank, Clemons says, and they are proud to be part of the one here.
“Wilson County is a unique place that gave us our beginning, where people have a great volunteer spirit and believe in giving back to the community,” he says. “Our county is made up of special people that have blessed our bank with being loyal customers and that are part of our bank family.”
Family’s journey takes them in an unexpected direction
Wesley and Randi Binkley watched their two daughters, Evelyn, 4, and Eleanor, 2, peer at the rabbits and ducks at the Wilson County Fair animal exhibit two years ago when they got the phone call.
The couple loved being parents and wanted to give Evelyn and Eleanor a sibling to round out their happy family. Both had come from families with multiple siblings.
“It was my doctor on the phone,” Randi recalls.
The deflating and life-changing news blurred Randi’s vision and caught her breath. She was just 35 years old.
“He gave me the results of all my lab work and basically told me I would not be able to have another baby because I didn’t have any viable eggs left,” Randi says quietly from her home in Lebanon.
That phone call two years ago came in the midst of Randi and Wesley’s attempt to become pregnant with their third. The disappointing news propelled a quest that led them to a successful option to fulfill their desire to complete their family. They chose an option few understood or discussed.
It’s called embryo adoption. And because of this process, today Wesley and Randi have not one more baby, but two. The babies are not biological to this determined couple and are not biological to each other. This sometimes boggles peoples’ minds, until Randi and Wesley easily explain what embryo adoption is and how it’s completed their family.
“For some reason, infertility is not talked about,” says Randi, a certified nurse anesthetist at Lebanon’s Tennova Hospital. “Woman and men feel somehow ashamed or inept if this issue arises. It’s painful.”
She wants to debunk this, open a conversation and share the option they chose to expand their family when it could not happen the natural way.
While Randi works at Tennova, her husband is in real estate at Remax Exceptional Properties in Mt. Juliet. They celebrated their eighth anniversary in October. They moved to Lebanon three years ago from Davidson County, simply because they love Wilson County. Randi recently transferred to Tennova after nine years at Centennial Hospital in Nashville. Today, Evelyn is 6, Eleanor is 4 — and brother and sister Wynn and Elise are 10 months old.
The couple’s passage to an expanded family is detailed and arduous, but there are several highlights they want to share. They never had trouble conceiving with their two girls, and after about a year, they decided to round the kids out to a trio.
“We really didn’t think much about any problem,” Randi recalls. “But I learned at age 35, fertility drops quite significantly.”
After no success in about two months, they felt a niggling and started to pay more attention. “I knew if it didn’t come quickly for me, something might be wrong,” Randi says.
They were both tested for fertility, and Randi was told she was the “issue.”
“Yes, it was difficult to swallow,” she says. “They said I had premature ovarian failure. Basically, I was menopausal. I was emotional, and I got into that wrong mindset that as a woman you should be able to get pregnant.”
This is when their road to pregnancy began. It was bumpy, scary and eye opening. Randi went through five IUI’s (intrauterine insemination), which is a fertility treatment that involves placing sperm inside a woman’s uterus to facilitate fertilization.
The doctor gave them a generous 25 percent success rate for conception with this. It was the same with IVF (in vetro fertilization), which is an assisted reproduction technology and process of extracting eggs, retrieving a sperm sample and manually combining them in a lab dish. Then, the embryo is transferred to the uterus. But, Randi was not producing viable eggs anymore.
Another option was an egg donor where a random female donates eggs, usually for money, and they are combined with the husband’s sperm.
“We already had biological children,” Randy said, and they rejected this option.
They thought of traditional adoption, but it’s extremely expensive, up to $50,000. They thought this could have a lot of potential heartache if the mother decided to change her mind.
Randi had a chance encounter with a woman on Facebook from Memphis who had a daughter through embryo adoption. Randi connected with a support group, learned more and then asked her doctor about it. He connected her to Nashville Fertility, which is the largest clinic in the Nashville area. They went to the facility’s embryo adoption program.
Randi and Wesley loved this option that implants a donor’s embryo into her uterus, and if it attaches, she would carry the baby full term. It was a fit for Randi because she loved being pregnant and felt carrying a child would bond her to the baby. There are more than 600,000 embryos preserved in Tennessee. Most come from couples who were successful in IVF and chose to donate their remaining embryos for those who wanted to adopt.
The couple waited five months on a list and then got to the top and were given 10 profiles. Since they already had biological children, they did not concern themselves with trying to find a match that resembled them.
It was suggested they choose two, in case one failed. They choose one genetically tested male embryo that had been frozen five years and one highly successful embryo that was frozen for 15 years. Each embryo came with a general profile of the donors for medical reasons and general information on the donors.
The two embryos were thawed and transferred to Randi’s uterus on May 2, 2016, and four days later Randi was already experiencing nausea, which was a terrific sign.
“I never felt so sick when I was pregnant before,” Randi says with a smile.
The doctor confirmed their pregnancy with two babies, and it was a bit rougher because it was twins and she was older. They say they both secretly hoped both embryos were viable and broke into tears when they realized they had two babies.
Wynn and Elise were early Christmas presents. Born Dec. 6, 2016, six weeks early, they soon flourished. They each came from separate donors.
Ironically, though not biological, they both look like their parents, with Elise taking after Randi’s blue eyed, blonde features and Wynn after Wesley’s darker features. People are astounded when they learn about the embryo implantation. The cost of the adoption was about $7,000 and another $1,000 for special medication.
At 11 months, Wynn is high strung and all boy, and Elise is “chubby with fat cheeks” and loves to smile.
Because of other couples’ generous donations, Randi and Wesley now have two beautiful babies. Also, full circle, because Randi could not produce enough milk to breast feed, she connected with a wonderful group where mothers donate their extra breast milk.
“I know,” Randi whispers. “Other people have given us so much.”
Mom and dad are adapting happily to their new normal with four children. It’s their dream. It’s busy with a lot of give and take and little sleep. But, they say it’s miraculous.
“Embryo adoption is a wonderful option not a lot of people research,” Randi says quietly as she looks at her twins asleep. “I want people to know being infertile is not a failure. It’s life, but there are options. If I had to walk this road again in order to educate people, I would. I’m okay I walked the road and got to the other side.”
Recently I was in a work meeting, and it seemed everyone in attendance was in a funk. It was not a work-related funk, but a general “life as we know it” funk. The conversation quickly turned from work to politics, natural disasters and of course, Las Vegas.
It seems that everywhere we look these days, evil abounds.
There are populations of people that want to harm us. From nukes that may reach our shores to wayward souls who massacre the innocent among us. Natural disasters are battering homes and our spirits. Tweets and daily political posts that keep us in constant turmoil.
Conversations about how we go about fixing what has gone so wrong often lead to nowhere. Fixing “it” seems almost insurmountable until you realize that the next move is ours to make, and we best get to making it.
I don’t know how to fix politicians or world leaders, nor do I know how to make someone insane become saner. I can’t make floods subside, nor can I bring back innocent lives lost.
But I can….
- Be kind to those around me. I can smile at the clerk at Walmart and ask their name. The minute I do, we are no longer strangers. In a world where so many are alone or lonely, I will take a minute to ensure those who pass through my daily world know they are valued.
- Be a helper. I can hold a door, pay for a meal, do a favor and expect nothing in return. It astounds me that there are so many among us who may be hungry or do not have a permanent home where they can rest. Let’s help them. Let’s feed them. Let’s bring them some peace. For we all know that helping them, brings us peace as well.
- Be thankful. I can thank the good Lord above that somehow I landed right here. We may not have the swankiest of restaurants or big sprawling malls, but we have something better. Fridays are for football, the county fair is still a big deal, you get caught behind a tractor on the highway and your life automatically slows down. It’s not a simple life by any means, but at the same time, it’s not the life many in this world suffer though. We know our neighbors. We watch out for each other. Good abounds.
- Be resolute. I can right a wrong. I can speak up. I can speak out. There is a time and place for silence, but now is not the time or place. We can no longer let the politicians or other people fix things for us. It’s time we fix things in our own homes. It’s time we fix things in our own schools. It’s time we fix things in our own small communities. Only then will we be ready to fix the bigger challenges facing us.
- Be the change. I can make a difference. Even a small one. I can make it every single day. I may not be saving the entire world, but I’m doing what I can to save my little world.
Helping the next generation with fun night out
The community came out for an entertaining evening that supported a great cause:
Notes for Nurses. Cumberland University held its fifth annual Notes for Nurses event
Sept. 23 at the Savage Aviation Hanger at the Lebanon Municipal Airport.
It’s the University’s Rudy School of Nursing and Health Professions’ primary fundraiser
of the year, and they raised more than $93,000 this year. Since Notes for Nurses
started, it’s raised nearly $300,000 to help the school provide scholarships and lab
The event also kicked off the 25th anniversary celebration for the Rudy School of
Nursing and Health Professions.
“Notes for Nurses is an important event because it has allowed us to purchase state-of-
the-art simulation and training equipment to help us educate the next generation
of nurses,” says Joy Kimbrell, interim dean at Cumberland University. “The event has
also offered us the opportunity to provide scholarships to some students who might not
otherwise have the opportunity to become a nurse.”
The event featured music from musician Jonell Mosser, a live auction, cash bar, food
from Sammy B’s and much more. Attendees enjoyed the event well into the evening.
“It was such a wonderful evening, full of excitement, amazing food, incredible music and
dancing,” says Pam McAteer, Dental Group Transformations and event chair. “Seeing
the outpouring of support from the community with record attendance was
Although a lot of work went into planning the event, the group got to let loose with the
rest of the attendees.
“My favorite part of the event would have to be watching the nursing student volunteers
having such a great time on the dance floor during the after-party, which was an added
event this year,” McAteer says.
After making the decision this year to actively pursue a writing career (more about that
in my blog Mommy Moments “When Life Gives You Lemons and Lyme Complex” for
Wilson Living online), I began writing a little bit every day.
I finished the draft on a different children’s story about a bird and read it to the toughest
critic I know: my now four-year-old daughter. I asked her what she thought. Her hesitant
reply was, “Well, I like it, but I wish I had a blue jay story because the blue jay is my
And so I sat down while my kids were taking a nap and wrote “The Blue Jay Blues.” I
had some feathery inspiration, seemingly having birds on the brain. My husband
recently put up a hummingbird feeder and a songbird feeder in our backyard, little things
that have brought big entertainment to myself and my children.
We all have our favorite birds, my son the hummingbird, myself the cardinal and my
daughter, of course, the blue jay. Fitting that my daughter picked the notoriously mean
bird as her favorite, as she delights in terrorizing her little brother.
But then I got to thinking about it. Was the blue jay really a bad bird, or was he just
misunderstood? This sparked the story for “The Blue Jay Blues,” with more inspiration
flowing from my time living in Memphis where both my husband Ensley and I attended
law school. You think Memphis, and you can hear B.B. King’s electric guitar. You can
visualize a lyrical, neon trail of heartbreak dancing down Beale Street.
“The Blue Jay Blues” is a story about a blues playing Blue Jay who just wants to play
with the other birds, but they’ve all heard that Blue Jay is bad news. Overcoming his
bad reputation, all the birds perform in the Blue Jay Blues Band. It’s a rocking good time
with an educational bent, throwing in some facts about Blues music and blue jays.
While I’ve sent out many of my other stories to find a home at a big publishing house, I
decided that I wasn’t going to wait until an elite in New York decided to give my blue jay
story a chance. I had my marching orders from my daughter, after all.
I asked for divine wisdom on how to proceed. It just so happens that my daughter
received an angel book by a publisher whose name included the word “wisdom.” Seeing
that as a sign, I did an online search trying to find the book’s publisher, thinking that was
where I should send my story. Well, I couldn’t find the angel book publisher, but landed
instead on Wisdom House Press, an independent publishing house in North Carolina. I
decided to take a leap of faith, or a flight of faith as it were, since birds apparently are
So about all those eggs in one basket. During “The Blue Jay Blues” production, I had
the idea for a Southern poetry journal. Much of my writing begins in a journal, so I
thought why not put my pen to paper on paper already containing my words?
I began thinking of all the sayins' of my late grandma from Crossville and began turning
those expressions into poems. My list keeps growing every day, with “new” old material
supplied by my Lebanon grandmother-in-law Madeline Hagan, and the current tally is at
more than 600.
I decided to split the sassy sayins' into multiple books. The first I’m sharing is called “A
Big Helping of Southern with a Pinch of Poetry: A Sassy Southern Journal.” From
canning to a can-do attitude, from big hair to big dreams, with A Big Helping of Southern
I hope to leave you hungry for seconds! Of course, I want you to buy my journal, but I’ll
give you a taste (just don’t ruin your supper!):
“Life is like a potluck, what others make you can’t dictate. But you create your own
menu, so make something delicious to adorn your plate!”
“All your eggs in one basket is said to be foolhardy. Unless you’re making omelets, you
need a few broken eggs for a brunch party!”
Come out to hear a reading of “The Blue Jay Blues” during Wilson Living’s
Breakfast with Santa Nov. 16 at 8 and 10 a.m. The event will be at the Wilson
County Fairgrounds’ James E. Ward Ag Center.
Andrea Hagan is a mom full time, a lawyer part-time and a wordsmith on the weekends.
Check out her blog Mommy Moments for Wilson Living Magazine online. Andrea and
her family live in Lebanon where her husband, Ensley, was born and raised. Andrea is
an interloper from Sparta, but we won’t hold that against her. Be sure to check out
Andrea’s website Andreahaganbooks.com for more information about her upcoming
projects and to purchase her books.
Local author looks to inspire female entrepreneurs with book
It’s no longer a man’s world, at least if the growing number of women entrepreneurs have anything to say about it. That includes Amber Hurdle, who wrote “The Bombshell Business Woman” to give other women actionable advice on how they can grow their businesses and succeed — no matter their circumstances.
Her struggles are actually what helped this bombshell get to where she’s at today, and readers can learn all about her journey in the book.
Hurdle, who grew up in Orange County, California, moved to Lebanon when she was 14 years old. Her father had always been in the music industry, so it only made sense that the family of eight would end up in the Nashville area.
She was seen as the ideal student, even making the evening news as a strong high school leader. That was just weeks before the moment that changed her life forever. At 16, Hurdle found out she was pregnant. After the initial shock wore off, she started to think about the logistics of raising a child when she was still one herself.
Hurdle knew she had to be dedicated to her education and work if she was ever going to be able to give her child all of the opportunities she deserved. She not only wanted to prove the naysayers and statistics wrong, but she wanted to also push herself to be the best she could.
Besides her family, helping her on that journey was Lebanon’s Johnny and Peggy Keel. Johnny was her first mentor, and Peggy — who Hurdle says was an entrepreneur in town before there was a thing — helped raise her professionally. “Peggy is the one who really encouraged me. I just can’t help but think if she didn’t make those investments in me, there’s no way I’d be where I am now — and she’s still there for me.”
From there, Hurdle has had a career focused on communications and engagement, whether that was in a marketing, public/internal relations or event management role. Like other writers, the idea of a book started to take root. So, she started putting pen to paper nearly four years ago.
At first, she had a difficult time coming up with the topic for her book. She originally considered writing a leadership book. But the more involved she became with female entrepreneurs throughout the community, she soon realized how little information and actionable advice there was for them.
“I personally had a hard time finding out how to do this. There wasn’t a book out there like what I wanted,” she says. So, she decided to solve the problem and create one.
Things started to fall together after that, finding a publisher, getting more clarity on her targeted audience and creating a plan to get the book published and out to readers. Her book, “The Bombshell Business Woman,” came out this fall and covers everything from Hurdle’s story to real advice on engaging employees, setting goals and networking.
A straight shooter, Hurdle uses her experiences, knowledge and skills to help other women looking to grow their businesses. She’s learned what does and doesn’t work for entrepreneurs, and she wants to share that with others to see them be successful.
Supporting her throughout the publishing process has been her husband, Geoff, and children Brittany, Derek and stepdaughter, Kristen Fussell. She’s also gotten support from the community.
Her book even features several local businesses who worked through her book guide together. “There’s just a sense of comradery that really inspired a lot of this book,” she says. “The most powerful aspect of it was that they were there for each other. They realized they weren’t really competition.
“So many women in this town contributed to its existence, whether they realize it or not,” Hurdle continues. “Lebanon is a true community, and we can only sustain that if we make an intentional effort to invest in each other.”
The book is for both new business owners and ones who have been doing it for years but need advice and support. She encourages entrepreneurs to grab a few of their fellow business women friends, study the book and help each other through the process.
“The huge challenge for women is having confidence, especially in a Pinterest-perfect world,” Hurdle says. “You were created a certain way: You have inherent, natural gifts you can use.”
The basis of her book is the idea of a bombshell woman, who she says is a woman who is comfortable in her own skin. “It’s not about vanity or external presentation. It’s who you are on the inside.”
In her book, she defines a bombshell as “a bold, brave and unwaveringly confident woman in business and life.” Those are attributes she strives toward, as well.
“It’s about being able to be a wife, mom, business owner, community volunteer,” Hurdle says. “A bombshell isn’t 9 to 5.”
Being able to understand the dynamics of being a woman business owner has enabled Hurdle to speak to women on a larger basis, giving them information that really helps and hits home. Having the opportunity to work with a variety of women and being able to make a real difference in their lives has been rewarding for Hurdle.
She says she wants readers to come away from the book feeling empowered. “If a woman feels empowered, she doesn’t let fear dictate her actions. She lets her truth and her talent and her gut instinct tell her what is next and how to best do things. And when a woman is operating in that flow, she’s unstoppable.”
It’s that unstoppable mindset that drove Hurdle to earn not only her high school degree, but also a bachelor’s degree. She’s proof people really can do anything they put their mind to, no matter what obstacles they’re against.
Her book aims to help other women find that same confidence, no matter their circumstances, and the best plan for their businesses. As she says in her book, “I can show just how far from grace I fell and what it took to first claw my way out of desperation and then to grow personally and professionally far more than I thought possible.”
For women who purchase her book early on, she’s offering a free 40-page workbook, 30 days of affirmation and a one-week Bible study. The book also features a study guide.
“If you want to get together with your bombshell squad, we have everything in there for how to facilitate a book study and how to make sure everybody’s heard,” she says.
“The Bombshell Business Woman” is available at Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, independent stores and Amazon.com. For more information, visit Amberhurdle.com.
Find all your favorite shops and gifts at the Holiday Expo
The Christmas season is just around the corner, which means Wilson Living’s Holiday Expo is almost here, as well. Thousands come out for the annual event, which will be Nov. 16-18 at the James E. Ward Ag Center at the Wilson County Fairgrounds.
Learn about the Holiday Expo from the Q&A, and visit Wilsonlivingmagazine.com/2017-holiday-expo for more information.
Q: What is the Holiday Expo?
A: The three-day event will have dozens of vendors for all of your holiday-shopping needs. It’s indoors at the Wilson County Fairgrounds, 945 E. Baddour Parkway in Lebanon.
Q: What time is the event?
A: It will be Thursday 5 to 9 p.m. for the Gala Sneak Peek, Friday 12 to 7 p.m. and Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. There’s also Breakfast with Santa Saturday at 8 and 10 a.m.
Q: Is it free?
A: The Gala Sneak Peek cost is ticketed and costs $12 a person, and Breakfast with Santa tickets are $15 a person. The Holiday Expo is free to attend Friday and Saturday. Tickets can be purchased through PayPal on the website.
Q: Why go to the Gala Sneak Peek?
A: You’ll get the first look at all of the items for sale, ensuring you won’t miss out on any items that will sell quickly. We also have a surprise guest for the Gala: Heather Land, known for her hilarious “I Ain’t Doin It” videos, will be there to meet and greet attendees. There will also be catered dishes from Wildberry Café and Catering to enjoy. You won’t want to miss all of that!
Q: What will be at Breakfast with Santa?
A: Start the morning with a catered breakfast, story time with local author Andrea Hagan and an appearance by Santa. Take as many photos as you want with the kids and Santa, and head into the Expo when you’re finished.
Q: What types of booths will be there?
A: You’ll find everything from clothing and accessories to home and Christmas décor. There will also be food vendors, beauty products, children’s items, boutiques, gift items and much more. You’ll see stuff for every style and budget.
Q: Why should people attend the Holiday Expo?
A: It’s the perfect way to get in the holiday spirit with friends and family, while also shopping from local businesses and crossing things off your gift list. There’s really something for the whole family. Come dressed in your festive outfits, and enjoy a great shopping experience.
Wilson Living Holiday Expo
James E. Ward Ag Center
Get in the Christmas spirit and finish all of your shopping at our Holiday Expo! There will be dozens of booths carrying everything clothing and accessories to home décor and gift items. It kicks off with a ticketed Gala Sneak Peek Thursday from 5 to 9 p.m., and then it’s free Friday 12 to 7 p.m. and Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. There will also be a ticketed Breakfast with Santa Nov. 18 at 8 and 10 a.m. For more information, visit Wilsonlivingmagazine.com/2017-holiday-expo.
Christmas in the Country, North Pole Express
Enjoy a day of shopping, goodies and maybe even see Santa. There will also be a ticketed North Pole Express Train going through for a day you won’t forget. Visit Watertowntn.com for more information.
Small Business Saturday
Spend a Saturday Christmas shopping at local small businesses to celebrate Small Business Saturday. Many local businesses throughout the community take part in the day dedicated to shopping at small businesses. For more information, call 615-444-5503.
Christmas Tree Lighting
Lebanon’s Historic Square
Join us at 5 p.m. to light the Christmas Tree on Lebanon’s Historic Square. Many students from schools around Wilson County along with local dignitaries will take part in the lighting of the tree. For more information, call 615-444-5503.
Lebanon Christmas Parade
This year’s theme is “Christmas Movies Come to Life.” Participants are encouraged to pick a Christmas Movie theme for their entry. The parade begins at 2 p.m. at the Old Lebanon High School. From there, it will travel up Park Avenue, to East Main Street, around the Lebanon Public Square and down West Main Street, where it will end at the DT McCall & Sons parking lot. The 2017 Grand Marshal will be famed country music artist and actress Irlene Mandrell. To register a float for the parade, visit Lebanonwilsonchamber.com/christmasparade.
Enjoy floats and fun for the whole family at the city’s Christmas parade. This year’s theme is “Christmas in a Galaxy Far, Far Away.” The parade starts at the intersection of N. Mt. Juliet Rd. and Weston Dr., next to W. Wilson Middle School. For more information, visit Mtjuliet-tn.gov/426/christmas-parade.
Christmas on the Square
Lebanon’s Historic Square
Join us on Lebanon’s Historic Square for a fun family night from 2 to 6 p.m. Festivities include live Christmas music, shopping, a kid’s corner, hair tinsel, market place vendors, food trucks, letters to Santa, candy canes and photos with Santa, carriage rides and Christmas cheer! For more information, visit Lebanonwilsonchamber.com or call 615-444-5503.
Find custom clothing, gifts and more at Lebanon’s Urban Mills
Some outfits and accessories make people feel like they were made just for them. That’s a special feeling Urban Mills Promotions & Boutique in Lebanon strives to create for its shoppers with exclusive items and customizable pieces.
But if you had asked owner Ramona Welch a few years back if she would one day have a boutique, she might have laughed. It’s been an unlikely journey for Welch, who taught for 15 years and always had a passion for helping children. After leaving the school system, she worked in sales for a couple of years before venturing out and starting her own business in April 2015.
Welch opened Urban Mills Promotions located in The Mill at Lebanon, offering custom screen prints, embroidery and promotional products.
Her daughter, Carly Lee, was the one in the family with the passion for clothing. She was studying fashion merchandising and design at Tennessee Tech when she began telling her mother she should add clothing to her store.
A year later after graduating from TTU, Lee came to work for the shop. They began offering clothing and moved to a larger location in The Mill. They both brought their expertise to Urban Mills and said they loved working together.
“It’s the best of both worlds because she’s my best friend and my mom,” Lee says of her mother.
Continuing to grow, Urban Mills moved to its current location on the Lebanon Square in April. “It’s been wonderful. It’s twice as big as what we had,” Welch says. “We love it here, and I think it’s the perfect spot on the Square.”
Their shop is on the corner of the Square connecting to the Capitol Theatre, with plenty of windows for people to get a glimpse of what’s inside this stylish boutique. They say they’ve had visitors tell them the location reminds them of Franklin Square — but better.
Shoppers will find boutique clothing (sizes X-Small to 3X), baby items and clothing, jewelry, shoes, accessories, local artwork, gift items, home décor pieces and more. They also carry Decohides cowhide rugs that have been especially popular and can be seen hanging up in the store. “We can’t keep them in the store,” Lee says of the quick-selling hide rugs.
There are also plenty of Christmas décor and clothing pieces to get people in the spirit, including festive baby clothing up to 4T, ornaments, towels, scarves and more.
To set Urban Mills apart, the mother-daughter duo look to carry brands that will sell exclusively to them, keeping their customers from seeing their outfits worn by dozens of others around town.
One of their most popular brands is Bed Stu, which offers leather items like boots, purses and belts, Lee says. They also carry pieces from Tempo Paris, Molly Bracken, Mud Pie, Aratta and others.
“We want it to look different every time you come in the shop,” Welch says, “and see something new that you like.”
For truly one-of-a-kind pieces, Lee creates shirts, hats, jackets and more for their in-house brand, UM Design. Being able to showcase her creativity through her brand has been a neat and rewarding experience, she says.
They say they enjoy helping shoppers find items that match their styles, budget and fit. “When people come in the store, we try to help them with their own unique style and create an outfit that makes them look and feel good about themselves,” Welch says. “Our top priority is taking care of our customers.”
They encourage everyone to stop by and check out the store, even men. “We have stuff for guys, too. We also have a lot of men come in, and we love helping them pick out that special gift for their significant other,” Welch says. “We want everyone to know we have something for everybody at every price range.”
Urban Mills also offers screen printing, heat transfer, digital prints, promotional items and embroidery in the back of the store. Their items are perfect for businesses, schools or individuals who want a custom item.
“We can put your name or logo on just about anything,” Welch says.
The pair says the business has been made possible with the support from both of their husbands. Welch and her husband Andy have been married 33 years and also have a son, Cal — who has two children, Emery and Andrew, with his wife Lauren. Lee and her husband, Blake, have a 19-month-old son, Tritt.
Urban Mills is open Monday and Tuesday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Wednesday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. They are located at 126 Public Square in Lebanon
Follow them on Facebook, or email Urbanmillspromo@gmail.com for more information.