Updated: Oct 21, 2020
Owner, Red Horse Books & Gifts
Lucy Harrelson is an inspiration to many!
She is the owner of Red Horse Books, a unique book store and gift shop. Her strength, determination and incredible work ethic has allowed her, and her family to have a secure and comfortable life. She has instilled her morals and beliefs not only in her home life, but also in her family business, which coexist with one another.
Red Horse Books is set to launch online October 1, 2020, and her brick and mortar is soon to follow in mid November. In February of 2021, a cafe will be added which will serve baked goods supplied by local pop up bakery, Pink-a-Dotz. Pink-a-Dotz is a woman owned, woman ran, bakery that sells woman produced products! This is the premise of the business! Neat!
Red Horse Books showcases small press, self published, indie authors primarily female from all over the country. Along with both new and used books, Georgia made crafts, such as handmade jewelry, organic goats milk soap and hand poured candles will stock the shelves. Lucy envisions the space as a 'place of community gathering where people can find comfort and shelter from the busy day to relax and wind down.' Harrelson remarks,
“This type of space wasn't available when I needed it. I want to create it so that other people that need that space can have access to it.”
Harrelson recalls many times that she would have loved to have a place to unwind & kick back, while running high volume businesses and being a mother of two. Red Horse Books will be convenient AND approachable; A simple, hometown feel with the highest quality products.
McRae, Georgia is a quaint small town nestled along US 441 in rural South Eastern Georgia. Residents are primarily loggers, farmers or small business owners. The city population is less than 10,000 resident, and it takes 40 minutes to get to any chain store and it’s 75 miles to the nearest book store. Recently, revitalization efforts and community oriented events have been pushed, from the town council, as well as its residents. Lucy is incredibly happy to be a part of these efforts and the shifting of bringing business back downtown. She already has dates lined up for book readings, signings, holiday events and more! After hours, she intends to allow local homeschooling organizations to host gatherings. (We love.)
So why an all female book store, we ask?
A Wesleyan graduate with a MBA, she originally foresaw working in international law, climbing the corporate ladder. She realized quickly that that was not for her. She has always been a self starter, with fierce determination. During her years at Wesleyan she learned very quickly “We don’t do well with taking orders from other people.”
When she was pregnant with her first child, she and her husband decided to turn his hobby into their full time jobs, and thus, Horse Creek Auction was created. Horse Creek Auction has gone on to become one of the largest livestock and equipment auction houses in the South East! Three years ago, Lucy and her husband founded the Southeastern Academy of Auctioneering, where auctioneers get trained and certified.
“The universe is like, hey, you finally got here, this is what you're supposed to do.”
In 2017, she published her first book, and currently has several different titles out. Harrelson stated that being an author is hard to make a viable career. She wanted to host a space where indie authors can have their books on shelves, and not be sold entirely online.
“Being self-published, and knowing that other people were seeking a space, it all just kind of fell into place.” She primarily purchases books directly from authors at a price that is more favorable than big box stores. They are sold along with used books, and part of the profit goes back to supporting indie authors. Typical margins for authors are very small, but she wants to decrease this gap.
“In five years I would like Red Horse Books to be synonymous with a community hub; in ten years I would like to see Red Horse Books popping up in small rural areas to offer that same type of atmosphere across the state.”
Harrelson doesn’t envision her company moving into larger towns and cities. She wants to see quality books, goods and coffee in small communities. Many adults and children don’t have access to community spaces, a place to sit down and read or even get a cup of coffee. Typically, in the McRae community, women are partners with their significant others, meaning everyone provides. There are no expectations that a wife can’t run her own business and be successful on their own.
In Southeastern Georgia there is even a saying that goes,
“Behind every successful farmer there is a wife that works in town.”
Harrelson states that she knows men can’t run a town on their own. Most of the men are farming and logging, whereas the women keep the shops afloat, as well as schools and other neighborhood establishments. Lucy feels fortunate that we aren’t in a time where women have to choose between being a housewife or a business woman. Her kids are her motivation and she shows them that you can wear many hats. She makes sure they know that if something isn’t working out you can’t decide to fail. You have to push further.
“Don't be afraid to fail. I spent so long afraid of failure. If you fail, you fail. Big deal. Go try something else. Being a successful business woman has had its moments. It is important to take care of yourself. Set guidelines for your mind and health so that you don't get too ahead. Boundaries are very important."
She goes on to say..
“Make sure you learn all the things you shouldn't do so the next time you try it you know what works. Don’t ever give up. It’s hard to push through obstacles but they are there to help you know what the next step is."
There are a lot of resources out there such as grants and crowd funding that can help women.
“That assumption that your 9 - 5 is always going to be there is a false sense of security. If you want to successfully start your own business, set boundaries, find a way to follow your dreams without taking out tons of debt.”
We all have learned with Covid 19, and life in general, that something can happen at any moment. Try to be strategic and take out the least amount of loans possible. Also, support is crucial. So many people go through life not reaching out or allowing themselves to be alone in their thoughts.
“Find a group of people that support your dreams. It doesn't matter if it's an online community, a local group, your significant other”.
Harrelson states that not everyone has a strong support group. Some do but they can’t relate or understand.
"Don’t allow this to stop you. Seek out support because there is someone out there who does understand."
Red Horse Books is going to be a spark in both Lucy's local community, as well as online. Harrelson’s charming, witty and welcoming personality, alone are reasons to come visit! Her core foundation of buying and selling from solely independent women artists and businesses is making an impact towards women equality. Not only is she providing an educational and communal space, but she is giving back to independent authors. The price on every dollar spent at Red Horse Books goes so much further than most stores, and it has a larger impression on the economy. Her business supports all of us in so many ways, as well as paves the way for our future generations.
Thank you, Lucy!
Q + A with Lucy Harrelson
Q: What is Moxxi to you?
A: "Get up every morning and give them hell. If you are a PTA parent, and baking cookies, bake the best daggone cookies you can bake, If you are climbing that corporate ladder and you want to wear your six inch heels to that boardroom YOU GO GIRL. Just get up and give it your best every day.”
Q: How do you take your coffee?
A: "Drip with a splash of cream. I don’t do decaf, honestly there’s no point”
Q: Any particular authors to recommend writing about women empowerment?
A: “I suggest looking on the internet and social media. There is no one author in particular. Instagram is a wonderful place to find people in the book community. Look for the community as a whole, not just specific authors. Find what resonates with you. It is hard for me to recommend one author when each of us are unique and are looking for different content.”
Q: What is it that YOU love about coffee?
A: "Growing up her and her dad would have a cup of coffee every morning together and go horseback riding in the afternoon. “He passed in 2015 and I still have a cup of coffee every morning in HIS MUG, So I still have a cup of coffee with my dad every morning.” She appreciates how much coffee brings people together.”
Q: Some authors that will be in the store?
A: Melanie Novak H.C. Bentley Brandy L. Cunningham Celestial K.
Q: Craft vendors?
A: The West Collective Olympia Made Jewelry Georgia’s Farm Girl Apothecary
Q: Do you have any mentors?
A: "Jim Halleren. (A professor of hers at Wesleyan & a published author.) He would ask, “What do you actually want to do, not what job do you want, not where do you want to work, but what do you want to do with your life?” I have carried this through life, and it has really resonated in the past couple years.
Written & Curated By | Krysta Kearney, Moxxi Coffee Co.
Keep updated about Red Horse on social media! Find them at @redhorsebooks on Instagram, and online at:
If you are interested in checking out Lucy's Auction School, you can find that, here: www.horsecreekauctionco.net/southeastern-academy-of-auctioneering.html