The Feature is Female: Kayla Huber

“They say it takes a village to raise children, but I think it takes a village to run a successful business.” – Kayla Huber

What do a former fair queen, an accountant, and an owner of the area’s premium dress shop all have in common? They’re all this month’s Feature is Female honoree, Kayla Huber.

Fresh out of college, bright eyed Kayla Huber had her mind set on a life full of numbers and spreadsheets, not the glittery life of rhinestones and tulle she’s now found herself in. As an accounting major, Huber planned for a life of just that, accounting. But after an internship with a large corporation left her with a desire for a larger impact, Kayla set her sights on a different path. “I did an accounting internship between my junior and senior years for a big corporation, and I did like it, but I remember after that summer thinking that maybe I’d like to work in a smaller scale environment,” recalled Kayla. “I wanted to feel like I was making more of an impact and be in a leadership role.”

Most business owners choose to open their doors because a dream and a passion ignited something within. Kayla Huber is no different. “I’ve always been into dresses, pageant wear, prom wear, and even bridal wear, so owning a store like 8th Avenue was always a dream of mine.”

That dream would soon become a reality thanks to a little bit of fate and a whole lot of support from someone very close to Kayla. “When I graduated with my accounting degree in 2017, I went to work for my dad who owns Encore Sound & Entertainment, and I did some of his bookkeeping and office work and really just helped him with what he needed,” remembered Huber. “I remember we were sitting down after setting up for an event, and we were just kind of talking about what it would be like to own a dress shop, and after that conversation I chose to call the owners of 8th Avenue and see if they would be willing to sell to me, and lucky enough they were interested. It really was a right place, right time scenario.”

In the fall of 2017, Kayla Huber’s dream of owning a dress store was coming true, meanwhile a dream team was forming between herself and her dad. “My dad and I bought the business back in November of 2017, and we were a great team. He may not have known everything about the fashion side, but he knew the business side of things, and he was willing to teach me those things” stated Kayla with a smile. “I had a vision for the place, and he helped to make that vision a reality.”

When it came to deciding which dress shop was the right dress shop, Kayla Huber only had eyes for one. “I knew that the previous owners of 8th Avenue had built a great reputation, and that was huge for me. When we were looking into things, we actually saw where another dress shop in Quincy was for sale, but I remember saying to my dad ‘If we’re going to do it, I want to do it!’ meaning I wanted to own 8th Avenue. They were the big store with the great reputation, and that’s what I wanted to shoot for,” recalled Kayla.

Huber’s entrepreneurial journey has had one common theme that was instilled in her from a young age. “My parents were huge role models for me because they both worked hard and have held leadership roles, and because of that, they always taught me that if you want something you’ve got to work for it,” stated Huber. Kayla also recalled how the hardships she had faced as a young business owner going through the ups and downs of a global pandemic as well as a shortage of labor in the workforce have had a massive impact on her journey thus far.

When owning a business that’s purpose is to serve a community, it is inevitable that you are going to build connections with those around you. Each of those connections is its own rewarding piece of the entrepreneurial puzzle for Kayla Huber. “The connections you make with people, whether that’s other female business owners, the connections I’ve had with the Adams County Fair pageant, or the connection to people within the walls of 8th Avenue, it’s always rewarding,” stated Kayla. “We’re selling something to people for one of the biggest days of their lives, so making those connections and hearing people say ‘You were an integral part of our process’ is always special.”

In the sweltering month of July, you can find Kayla Huber assisting in a program that’s been close to her for over a decade. “In 2013, I was crowned the Miss Adams County Fair Queen, and that helped grow my love of pageants. I love getting to help with the entire pageant process and being involved with them,” Huber fondly stated. “I’ve been the Director of the pageant for a couple years now, and before that, I was the Assistant Director, so I’ve really been helping with that since I gave up my title.”

As someone who has years of experience working with shaping the lives and minds of young women through the Adams County Fair Pageant, Kayla knows a thing or two about how rewarding it can be to be looked at as a strong, female role model in the community. “I think it’s really inspiring to see a lot of women be in the leadership role, and for myself, I think it’s cool that I get to show people that even at a young age and as a woman, that with hard work, you, too, can be in these roles,” Huber said. “It’s the same thing we try to instill with the girls running for the pageant. If you can go out there and work hard, you can be a role model for someone and you can show other women they can be, too.”

When asked about what’s on the horizon for Kayla Huber and 8th Avenue, her answer was simple: growth. “I’m really just looking to continue to grow. We’ve changed a few of the existing products and added some new things, so I’d love to continue to grow as a brick and mortar store. There is value in supporting local businesses, and I want to continue to show that value,” stated Kayla. “We’ve been growing our bridal selection recently and focusing more on creating a unique experience in a local store. We’ve been told that we are a big city store in a small town, and I appreciate that, because I am looking to give women that experience, especially in bridal. Continual growth in that area is definitely something we’re working on at the moment.”

As a business owner, challenges are going to arise. The key to those challenges for Kayla Huber is where she derives her advice for future female business owners. “The biggest thing I can say is be resilient. Entrepreneurship is going to throw a lot of challenges and ups and downs at you, but don’t let that stop you,” proudly stated Huber. “I would also say rely on your support system. I wouldn’t be where I am today without the support of my family, my husband and my staff, so be sure to rely on those around you for help when you need it.”

Having passion for what you’re doing and overcoming challenges is what motivates Kayla Huber to be the best business owner she can be. “The challenges that you face as an entrepreneur help you in realizing what is important in life and what you’re truly working toward. I’m motivated to continually work hard to show my child, just as my parents did, as well as show young girls that hard work really does pay off.”

From a childhood dream of one day owning a dress shop to living that reality everyday, Kayla Huber is living proof that being at the right place at the right time combined with hard work, grit, and determination really is a recipe for success.

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