VERSAILLES, Ky. (LEX 18) — The full effect that the pandemic had on our nation and those of us here in the Commonwealth won't be known for years, but a few courageous Kentuckians decided to roll the dice during the shutdown and open a business.
Kristen Harlow is a vibrant, energetic young entrepreneur who – it felt like – all of the Bluegrass was coming here to see. She saw one dream end – and another begin – during the pandemic.
"My dream was to be in New York City, still up there dancing, chasing my professional career, hopefully on Broadway or with the Rockettes," said Harlow, owner of Kristen's Kreations. "I had no plans to be in Versailles, Kentucky, let alone owning a bakery!"
Kristen was living the life. The small-town girl with big city dreams, working 3 part-time jobs while going to auditions.
Then, the pandemic and an expected two-week trip back home turned out to be much longer and brought about a change.
"I had to be really real with myself and listen to my heart," she said. "What if I stayed in Kentucky? What if I chose this?"
Baking is Kristen's second love.
"In my mind, I was like 'I have nothing to lose,'" said Kristen. "I purely want to make people happy. I felt like everything around me was just so sad."
It turned out there were a lot of people looking for a slice of happiness. She turned in her dance shoes for an apron and working out of her home, she got ten orders on the first day. Her store opened on Main Street 18 months later, and business is booming.
"Opening this spot here has been non-stop, the biggest blessing ever, the most wonderful opportunity to meet everybody," she said. "On opening day, I'm in here, like I haven't slept in weeks and I'm freaking out and everyone's like 'Kristen, you know it's time to open, go outside.' I go outside and look to my left – there's a line down the block!"
And they haven't stopped coming. Kristen's already tripled her staff just three months after opening. That bachelor's degree in Human Relations and Business, it turns out, was right on time... just like those lessons learned in New York.
"It proved to myself that I can do anything and, if I set my mind to it, anything's possible," she said. "It's more than I ever could have asked for."