After long careers with the U.S. Navy and NASA, sisters Lorraine Guerra and Tammy Adams settled in Burlington, Iowa with hopes of establishing their families outside of the big cities they had worked in. With over 35 years of event planning experience through their jobs and for friends, the two sisters decided to make their part-time event planning hobbies their full-time jobs. To make their dream a reality, the small business owners purchased the former Burlington Art Center in November of 2014 and began converting it into a banquet hall and events facility.
“We love helping people and being a part of their special day,” Tammy says. “We get excited about making it one they will always remember.”
The venue, called Majestic Estate, is available for weddings, banquets, bridal showers, parties, and gatherings of any kind. Its rental includes access to the estate’s gardens, the bridal suite, and the groom’s parlor. Owners Tammy and Lorraine also serve as event planners and provide the unique service of helping with the event throughout the entire time the venue is rented.
Majestic Estate is considered a historic destination and the owners work hard to make sure that those renting the facility are fully aware of all the options available to them, which includes suggesting other Burlington businesses like bed and breakfast inns and horse carriage services.
“We try to think of what would be fun to do if you were visiting a town,” Lorraine says. “This is some of their first experiences in Burlington and we want it to be fun!”
As a team, the business partners have worked hard to put their destination spot on the map, in particular for engaged couples. Attending bridal expos, advertising in the local paper and with radio spots, establishing a presence on social media, building an impressive website, and registering their location on sites like WeddingWire and The Knot has helped create a name for the business.
The sisters just completed renovations on the historic building and opened for business on May 2nd; Majestic Estate’s will hold its grand opening on June 6th. Events are already scheduled into the spring of 2016 and clients are coming from as far away as Chicago and San Francisco to use the historic, elegant facility.
“When you are starting a business, everyone is always scared that people may or may not like their vision,” Lorraine says. “The rewarding part is that people like what we are doing and the vision we have.”
The sisters took a business plan writing class offered by Janine Clover, director of the Southeastern SBDC in Burlington. With her guidance, they were able to put together a detailed business plan that they entered into the 2015 Des Moines County Business Plan Competition in May. Lorraine and Tammy were the overall winners in the competition and received a $5,000 seed capital grant intended to support their company’s start-up costs.
“When you start a business you don’t know what you need in terms of permits, licensing, and forms,” Tammy says. “The SBDC is a great guidance when you really don’t know what direction you are going in.”
Besides business plan assistance, Janine helped Tammy and Lorraine determine the best legal structure for their business, plus provided market research for the venue owners. The Majestic Estate owners still receive regular help from Janine and will continue to seek business counseling services from the SBDC until they no longer feel it is necessary.
“We have Janine on speed dial! She helps us see our vision within the community and to network and get contacts,” says Lorraine. “I totally recommend the SBDC for anyone starting a business.”
Both Tammy and Lorraine care a great deal about showing off Burlington as a wholesome and historic community. Their involvement with the city’s lighting committee in town means that they will help to light all of the town’s steeples in the spring. The illuminated steeples will be visible all around the community, including from their event center gardens. The business owners and sisters plan to join the local chamber of commerce after they have become more established.
To learn more about this historic Burlington, Iowa event venue and its capabilities, visit the Majestic Estate website at http://majestic-estate.com or its Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/majesticestatevenue.