Local business gets a boost from Enactus

Heather Lanker, owner of Heather Hill clothing store and the wife of John Brown University professor Jason Lanker, teamed up with Enactus to expand her business as she transitions from selling to boutiques to selling directly to the public.

“We want to expand her business through different routes,” said junior Nick Carson, leader of the project. “She developed back problems, and she made thousands of items a year by herself. We are giving her the resources and advice to approach and expand market.”

As such, Enactus installed a new e-commerce site, which allows Lanker to directly receive her transactions made on her website, without using another site and receiving a fee.

The daughter of Frank Huebert, the director of discipleship at John Brown University, modeled for the Heather Hill clothing store in an effort to rebrand the small but growing company.

The project also aims to set up her product sales through different channels like Pinterest, Zulily and Rue La La.

Lanker’s business started after she majored in clothing design in college and began making clothes for her kids.

“As a mother, I want my children to wear clothes that are as unique as they are,” said Heather Hill website. “Because I love colors and fabrics so much, I just can’t stop designing. It simply flows out of me.”

Lanker sold her products to boutiques in the Arkansas area at first. After renting a more expensive booth in Rogers, she decided to rent a space in downtown Siloam Springs three years ago because it was cheaper and closer to where she lives.

Lanker first connected with Enactus when one of Enactus’ leaders, Clayton Anderson, asked if she could use a grant from Wal-Mart and Coca Cola.

The grants they received are Wal-Mart’s Economic Empowerment Partner Powership and Coca Cola’s Uncap opportunities for Women (Women’s Economic Empowerment).

The grants were given to Enactus groups who were equipping women with skills to expand or encourage their business.

“The Women’s Economic Empowerment Project Partnership is an Enactus program sponsored by Wal-mart that empowers women by providing entrepreneurial and workforce skills through Enactus teams,” stated the grant.

Enactus advised Lanker on how to minimize her cost while increasing her profit and also providing equipment to maximize her output of products said Carson.

Lanker is also very involved in giving back to her community and reusing and recycling fabric.

“She doesn’t waste fabrics—she uses scraps in a design she calls ‘decoupage,’” stated the application to Coca Cola’s grant. “The La-Z-Boy plant in town also donates their scrap fabrics and she uses them to make baby shoes and bags. She routinely donates items for auction to Titus Task (local adoption support nonprofit), Remember Nhu (combating sex trade), and other nonprofits.”

One of the goals for Lanker is that she will feel empowered to carry and sustain her business, said Carson.

In the future, Lanker hopes to expand her business and set up a factory overseas.

“I work at it as I have so many roles: as a wife, as a mother, as a designer,” said Lanker. “I hope that my children can do anything they want to do. If you love something, push to do it.”