Community leader, entrepreneur, and loyal friend of Laurel, Mallorie Rasberry is an integral piece to our little town’s puzzle.
Mallorie lives in the historic district along with her husband Jim, and their daughter Lucy. She and Jim own the First National Bank Building on Central Avenue. Within the building, they own Rasberry Producer Group and Rasberry Financial Services. In addition, Mallorie helps run the Laurel Welcome Center which is also located inside the building.
In this blog series, we are highlighting various Laurel women who do great work for our community and inspire us to try harder and be better. These women remind us of our very own Leading Lady, the late Nellie Rowell.
We chose Mallorie for her immense love for our town, her genuine kindness, and all the time and effort she has invested into Laurel. Born and raised on a dairy farm, she is a woman who has always known the cost and the value of hard work. And for her hard work, we can’t thank her enough.
How did you end up right in the thick of everything that is Downtown Laurel?
Well, I married Jim Rasberry. So that’s number one. He and his family have always been here and been very passionate for Laurel. Whenever Downtown wasn’t going well and wasn’t popular, they were still the ones here.
He went to Southern, and I went to Ole Miss. He and Erin Napier are first cousins, and she was my roommate in Oxford. She was doing her senior art exhibit on the First National Bank Building. She did all the ads, promos, and whole marketing package for the business opening at the time, The Reserve. Jim came up to Oxford that evening to see the exhibit, and I met him there.
It’s all Downtown related from the beginning, if you think about it.
So, ever since I started dating Jim I always knew that passion was there in him and his dad. So it’s just one of those things that by marrying Jim and moving to Laurel, the Rasberry’s and Downtown were a package deal.
It was easy for me to get behind it all because of the love that they had. Whenever somebody has that much passion, it really is infectious. I moved here from Tylertown, Mississippi in 2009, so everything here was at a very low point. But to see the potential, and to see what it used to be, it was really easy to get excited and to get involved.
What are your roles in all the projects you’re involved in?
Well, we have two businesses in the First National Bank Building. We have Rasberry Producer Group, which I run the day-to-day operations of. I do things anywhere from payroll, to training our agents, to paying bills. With Rasberry Financial, Jim handles the day-to-day stuff. I usually handle the books and behind-the-scenes operations.
And of course we have the Laurel Welcome Center, where in the summer we have interns, but every other day I’ll be here to greet and answer questions. So, I find myself welcoming a lot of people to Laurel.
I’m the outgoing President of Laurel Main Street, but I stayed on the board as Treasurer. I’ve stepped back from the committees and taken a break there while staying involved. With Laurel Mercantile, I’m part owner, but I also handle all the purchasing and a lot of the product development.
What advice would you give to other inspired and established businesswomen?
Well, from a perspective of someone who isn’t from Laurel, what helped me most was getting involved. Whenever I moved here, I was working out of Hattiesburg. It wasn’t until I started working here and got on the board for Laurel Main Street that I truly felt vested.
I wasn’t just Jim Rasberry’s wife anymore, I was Mallorie Rasberry.
That can translate to women from here too. Being a part of the progress and change is a no-brainer for a successful business-person.
Because you’re involved in so much, how do you balance it all? Do you have any advice about multitasking?
I just have a really detailed to-do list. Other than that, I just try to prioritize. But the most important thing is that I’ve learned to say no to things that I’m not passionate about. So,
what I’ve found by doing that is that I only like to work on downtown projects and communities. Limiting myself to working on projects that I care about helps a lot.
What do you want to see in Laurel’s future?
I want to see every storefront bustling. I want to see every facade redone. I want to see Downtown fully occupied with beautiful businesses that are thriving.
I don’t want to see anymore unowned, empty buildings.
The thought of being able to look down the streets and seeing every building looking as beautiful as it could be—that’s a dream.
Where is your favorite place to go antiquing that some people may not know about?
I love to dig. Whether it’s a new store or an antique store, more than anything I love to find a bargain. NUTS is a store that I have loved a long time. It’s one of my favorites because I know I’m getting a good deal while giving back to my community. I also donate a lot there too. It used to be a honey hole, but people are starting to catch wind of it.
What is your favorite piece of furniture in your home and why?
The console we have our TV on now. It was actually the previous owner of our 4th Avenue house, Mr. Landrum’s, worktable. We even took it with us to the new house because we love it so much.
We found it in his old workshop where he used to repair watches. He actually had a drive-thru window in his shop where people would drive down the alley and drop off their watches for him to fix.
When we found the table it was really dirty, and it was full of all of his stuff that no one had ever gone through. We found all of his travel maps and framed them in our house. It was really fun to clean it up and see the end product.
We are so grateful to call Mallorie our friend and neighbor, and are happy to see her projects and businesses thrive. We can’t wait to see what she accomplishes next and what is to follow.
We are honored to get to hear Mallorie’s story first hand and excited to share it with you all! Join us in celebrating Mallorie, along with the other Leading Ladies of Laurel.
Have someone in your life that you think represents the strength and vision of Nellie Rowell? Click here to nominate her now.
-Keri Rowell, Lott Furniture Co.
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Keri Rowell is part of Downtown Laurel’s most historic business, Lott Furniture Co. A Laurel native and Historic District resident, Keri enjoys exploring all of the beautiful spaces and places in her Home Town, discovering the hidden tales buried deep within its history, and sharing them with the world. When you visit Downtown Laurel, you might just spot her out exploring, dreaming up the next story to share with you.