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Rising Stars: Meet Rachel Hays

Today we’d like to introduce you to Rachel Hays. 

Rachel, we appreciate you taking the time to share your story with us today. Where does your story begin?
The true spirit of the holiday season comes from giving back, giving thanks, and lending a helping hand to those in need. 

As local Jefferson City, Missouri entrepreneurs with our own small businesses, three co-founders (+ best friends) wanted to help support our #JCMO community by giving back in a way that could help local nonprofit charitable organizations. Insert the creation of the Holiday Mart JC in 2017. We started meeting throughout the year beginning in January to plan this event and all the logistics that come with it. Luckily, we received a lot of interest right away! 

Since 2017, The Holiday Mart JC has become the largest anticipated holiday shopping fundraiser event in Jefferson City, Missouri with close to 2,000 shoppers in attendance from all around the Mid-Missouri area. Our annual one-night event falls on the first Thursday of every November and features locally handmade products and crafts from Mid-Missouri entrepreneurs and crafters. From unique home goods, hand stamped jewelry, holiday gifts, boutique clothing, and a range of gourmet goodies — there is something for everyone! 

Fun fact: The Holiday Mart JC grew so much after one year that we had to expand to a bigger location for the 3rd year. We had a line outside the door for two hours waiting to enter the venue. It was an awesome sight to see with some many people supporting our fundraiser event. In 2019, we moved from The Millbottom to Capital Bluffs Event Center in Jefferson City, MO. 

The Holiday Mart JC has been able to donate a total of $14,562.00 back to various local non-profit charitable organizations. 100% of our proceeds are raised through ticket sales, application fees paid by participating vendors, patron, and corporate donations/sponsorships, and raffle ticket giveaways. Here are our past recipients: 

2017: The Special Learning Center and I-Serve Global 

2018: Central Missouri Foster Care and Adoption Association and Cody’s Gift 

2019: The HALO Foundation and Samaritan Center 

2020: Event was postponed to the COVID-19 Pandemic 

2021: The Red Slipper Warrior Project 

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way? Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
None of us had ever planned this type of an event before. We all utilized our different skills sets to successfully pull it off. We ultimately knew that people would attend since who doesn’t like shopping? It introduced attendees to vendors and small businesses that others may not have known about — which was one of our main goals. 

Uncooperative weather was our biggest fear since there was limited parking and having a line waiting at the entrance before the doors opened to the venue. Unfortunately, Jefferson City, MO is limited on big indoor event space options. 

As you know, we’re big fans of you and your work. For our readers who might not be as familiar what can you tell them about what you do?
We are three local Jefferson City, Missouri entrepreneurs with small businesses that include: 

-Bethany Walsh, owner of Hello Belle Co. (Clothing Boutique) 

-Rachel Hays, Freelance Photographer and Social Media Marketing Strategist 

-Becca Varner, owner of The Bronzing Boutique by Becca 

We are most proud of working together and sharing our mission of shopping local and giving back to our community with this annual fundraising event. 

We are set apart from others by our strong work ethic/teamwork skills even when we don’t always agree with each other on how something should be done. We’re very optimistic and look at every possible scenario before making our big event decisions — which has been so crucial. 

Is there anyone you’d like to thank or give credit to?
Our event wouldn’t be what it is without our participating vendors, event volunteers, event attendees, and local sponsors who have supported us since 2017. We are very thankful for everyone who has been evolved from helping spread the word to helping us behind the scenes the night of. 

Contact Info:

Image Credits
Amber Koelling Photography
Chelsea Smith Photography + Design
Keith Borgmeyer Photography

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