Graduate makes her own job

Published 12:00 am Thursday, February 9, 2012

By Jim Buice
The Clemmons Courier

During a time when college graduates can’t find jobs, Kelly Forester decided to create her own.

Forester, who graduated from the University of North Carolina in 2010 with a business degree, recently opened a yogurt shop at River Ridge Shopping Center at U.S. 421 in Clemmons.

And this isn’t the typical franchise store. In fact, it’s not a part of a franchise at all. This is the creation of Forester, who recently turned 24, from the ground up.

She put together the business plan, came up with a name and logo, drew up the floor plan, and helped develop the flavors you find at her store — Simply Tart.

“When I graduated from college, I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do,” said Forester, a Clemmons native who is a 2006 graduate of West Forsyth. “It was the worst time to be looking for a job.”

Her dad, Stan, owns his own business, Paragon Properties, which specializes in commercial real estate, and she decided to go ahead and get her real estate license.

“But I knew it wasn’t a good time in real estate,” she said. “It was a good time to learn about it but not make money doing it.”

Stan Forester had developed a small business complex on the lower side of the main shopping center. Along with his business, there’s a chiropractor’s office and a Subway restaurant.

“My dad and I started talking about what would do well in this center,” Kelly Forester said. “We were talking and decided it was definitely some kind of dessert. I’ve always been somewhat of a creative person.”

She had gone to California on spring break in her senior year and had seen some self-serve yogurt shops.

“Then I saw some in Chapel Hill,” Forester said. “I hadn’t seen many in this area.”

She started doing some research and realized most yogurt and ice cream places were franchises. She then looked at the business models, factoring in her health-conscious slant of providing frozen yogurt and smoothies with the freshest fruit and ingredients. She wanted a place where you could come in and serve yourself in a comfortable, coffee-house type of environment.

“It was a great learning process,” Forester said. “I probably learned more in the last six months of doing all this than I did in two years in Business School.”

That included getting her business plan together and submitting it to a bank along with working with the Small Business Association (SBA) on a loan.

“When I first wrote one of my first big checks, my hands were shaking,” Forester said. “I’ve been very happy with how we’ve been doing so far. People seem to really like it.”