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JENNIFER LaROCK

February 7, 2012 12:10 am

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FAMILY: I live in Fredericksburg with my husband of 16 months, Michael LaRock, our yellow lab, Emmett, and three cats--"the ladies."

EDUCATION: I grew up here in Fredericksburg and went to Courtland High School. I graduated in 2003 from James Madison University with a BBA. I studied at the University of Salamanca, Spain, for a semester.

WHAT DID YOU WANT TO BE WHEN YOU GREW UP? There was never one thing I wanted to be. I wanted to be everything from a teacher to a choreographer to creative director in advertising.

CAREER HISTORY: After I graduated from college, I moved back to Fredericksburg to work for the other family business, Spear Builders. That is where I gained a lot of the knowledge and skills needed to run your own business. While working for Spear Builders, I started my own company, Ever-Dri Waterproofing, LLC in 2004 (residential waterproofing for new construction). Although it was a success, my heart wasn't in it. In the fall of '06, I moved to San Diego and worked in retail for a couple of years. Realizing the West Coast wasn't for me, I returned to Fredericksburg almost two years to the day later to start up Stevenson Ridge.

FIRST JOB: Hostess at Outback Steakhouse.

WORST JOB: Probably working in sales at a clothing store. I didn't like the competition for sales and waiting around for customers.

HOW DID YOU END UP OWNING STEVENSON RIDGE? Stevenson Ridge was a collaborative effort between my parents and me (we are business partners). The cottages on the property were built by Dan Spear, my stepdad, and we decided to open them up to the public as an inn. Event planning was a passion of mine, and therefore we incorporated special events into our operations. None of us had experience in hospitality, but we are constantly learning. I am confident that the love for what we do, coupled with hard work, will make this business successful.

WHAT IS THE BIGGEST DECISION YOU'RE WRESTLING WITH NOW? Turning it "off." Owning your own business means that you are never off; the work is never done. We have guests seven days a week, and I always need to be prepared to deal with issues that arise. It can get exhausting, but I am lucky to have partners in this venture to lean on when I need a break.

WHAT IS ONE THING YOU WOULD CHANGE ABOUT YOUR JOB? I love being hands-on and involved with the day-to-day operations. However, I am realizing I need to delegate more so I can concentrate on management tasks.

WHO WAS YOUR HERO AS A CHILD, AND WHO IS TODAY? Audrey Hepburn was more my inspiration than a hero. She was talented, unique and classy. Today, my hero is my mom, Debbie Spear. She is a good mother, business partner and friend and one of the hardest-working people I know.

WHAT ARE THE BEST LOCAL RESOURCES FOR SMALL BUSINESSES SEEKING ASSISTANCE IN GETTING STARTED OR EXPANDING? I found the Spotsylvania Economic Development Department and the Fredericksburg Regional Chamber of Commerce to be the most supportive and helpful. Without a doubt, I can say that our business wouldn't be as successful as it is today without their involvement.

WHAT BUSINESS BOOK DO YOU RECOMMEND THE MOST AND WHY? I just finished reading "201 Ideas for Your Small Business" by Jane Applegate. Every time I picked up the book, it was a personal brainstorming session.

CAN YOU SHARE A WEIRD FUN FACT ABOUT YOUR PROFESSION THAT WE MIGHT NOT KNOW? Wedding rings are worn on the fourth finger of the left hand because it was once thought that a vein in that finger led directly to the heart.

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE SOMEONE THINKING ABOUT STARTING A BUSINESS RIGHT NOW? Love what you do so it won't feel like work.

WHO WOULD YOU RATHER SPEND TIME WITH, WARREN BUFFETT, DORIS BUFFETT OR JIMMY BUFFETT? Warren Buffett, because he is a brilliant businessman and I would love to pick his brain for a couple of hours.

540/582-6263

www.stevensonridge.com

--As told to Craig Schulin




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