Sponsor Spotlight - August 2019
- Story by Dena Temple, photos courtesy Holly Lemoine-Raymond
Holly Lemoine-Raymond meets me for breakfast at the Mockingbird Café. Rushing in, she greets several patrons at the restaurant and exchanges a warm hug and animated conversation with someone she hasn’t seen in a while.
“What a morning,” she says breathlessly. “My phone has been going nonstop!” And she is not kidding. During our short conversation she receives 16 texts, four phone calls and literally hundreds of emails. When asked how she manages all of it she replies, “When you love what you do, you manage. But even my personal assistant is overwhelmed!”
The woman she hugged is a fellow entrepreneur. “I love giving encouragement to other small business owners on how to create their brand and help them define their own destiny,” Holly says.
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Everyone seems to know Holly, and for good reasons. Holly worked in a marketing capacity for one of the area casinos before she opened the Cypress Café, a restaurant in the city hall building. An interest in real estate prompted her to sell the business and pursue a real estate license. Just two short years later Holly opened HL Raymond Properties, today one of the most successful real estate agencies in town. 2019 is shaping up to be the company’s best year yet, according to Holly.
Holly and her staff of 12 (with agents) provide boutique service for their clients from their office on Ulman Avenue. The building, formerly an orthodontist’s office, was transformed by Holly in a palette of sophisticated grays accented with reclaimed architectural salvage.
Upcycling other people’s castoffs is Holly’s signature style. “If I can take something discarded and give it a new life, everyone wins,” she says. “Plus, I think it looks great.”
Two of her favorite items to reclaim are old windows and shipping pallets. Holly regularly writes step-by-step DIY articles for the “Beautiful Things” column here in the Shoofly Magazine.
Holly’s marketing background, she feels, gives her an edge in servicing her real estate clients. “Selling a house is about three things: location, timing and price. We try to give our clients an edge by thinking outside of the box and coming up with unique ideas to attract the right buyers for their homes.”
A good example of that out-of-the-box thinking was her 2017 appearance on HGTV’s Beachfront Bargain Hunt, a series where prospective home buyers tour several homes in one beachfront town – in Holly’s episode, Bay St. Louis.
After this appearance Holly also appeared on an episode of the show, You Live in What? This show, on the GAC Network, featured homes (again in Bay St. Louis) in unusual buildings – one was a converted gas station that Holly renovated, and another, the historic Webb Schoolhouse, a Mississippi Landmark. Holly also helped scout other locations for the show.
These experiences lit the spark of a new idea for Holly, and soon she was pitching the idea for Inside Out with HL Raymond Properties to local TV executives. The show features local homes, and viewers are left to match up the interior and exterior views of each home.
“It’s a great way to show off our town and some of its homes, with a twist!” explained Holly. She pitched the idea to WLOX in Biloxi, and several weeks later she gave an expanded pitch to network execs from stations in Hattiesburg and New Orleans, too. The network liked the idea, and Inside Out with HL Raymond Properties was born. The show is #2 of its type and has since been picked up for a second season, which will feature a different type of property in each episode: antebellum homes, for example, or tiny houses. Plans are to expand to the Baton Rouge and Jackson markets next.
Holly says she does her best thinking around water – the beach and the Washington Street Pier are her favorites – and the ideas just keep coming. “However,” she cautions, “I won’t take on any project that will affect my business or keep me away from my family. Those are my priorities.”
Holly’s husband, Leo, owns a commercial plumbing business in New Orleans. Her son, Landry, was born with tarsel coalition, a painful bone condition in his feet. In spite of this, he is a healthy, active 19-year-old who ran cross-country in high school at St. Stanislaus.
Landry is working on getting his own real estate license, as well as his drone license. He and Leo also started a lawn care company, Blade Lawn Care, while Landry prepared for his first year at Millsaps College in Jackson. It certainly appears that personal drive runs in the family, and Mom couldn’t be prouder.
Holly and her team also make time to give back to the community. In general, she prefers to roll up her sleeves and donate her talents, feeling that effort makes more of an impact than a cash donation.
A good example of this was her “She-shed” raffle, which benefited Habitat for Humanity. Holly took an ordinary garden shed and over six months transformed it into a peaceful, stylish sanctuary. The “she-shed” was then raffled off, and the funds helped Habitat for Humanity renovate several area homes.
One of the homes belonged to Connie Lyons, a driving force behind another area charity, King’s Kitchen, which provides meals for the homeless.
“That was so satisfying,” Holly recalls. “We were able to help someone vitally important to our community who really needed help at that time. The proceeds from that raffle are still helping our neighbors today.” Holly also is working with the Boys and Girls Club of Hancock County on their November event, “Taste of the Future.”
When asked to pick one thing that not everyone knows, Holly replies, “I’ve had a lifelong fascination with sharks.” She had hoped to be a marine biologist but had to switch gears in college due to a medical issue.
However, she did swim with sharks to fulfill her lifelong dream. “Doing anything dangerous is about knowing your risks, and conquering your fears. I didn’t just jump in; I did research, eased in, and I had a rope, a lifeline – just in case.” She follows that same philosophy in business and in life. She always does her homework and calculates the risk before easing into any new venture.
Holly tries to keep things positive all the time. “Every morning, you have the choice to be the best that you can be,” she says. “I’ve been lucky enough to do the things I want to do, yet even the things that didn’t work out brought me to where I am today.
“There are always going to be issues, you know? What defines you is how you handle them. And now that I’ve found my passion,” she concludes, “I’m happy to help others find theirs.”