A Faulkner County woman who is actively involved with the Guy-Perkins School District further proved herself an inspiration by following her dream of opening her own business while still remaining dedicated to her former job and as the Guy-Perkins Parent Teacher Organization president.
Mandy Bartlett, a small-town girl who grew up in Guy, heads the school's PTO. She also works full-time as the vice president of Baldacci Promotions — a furniture and consulting promotions business — and opened up her own shop in early April.
Masons Furniture & Market opened its doors April 5, and Bartlett said this milestone was nothing short of a dream come true.
Sitting in the dividing line of older and new furniture, Bartlett said she wanted to thank her friends and family for their overwhelming and much-need support throughout the process of seeing her dream through.
"I honestly would not be here without my friends," she said. "There's no other way to say it. I've been so humbled by the support of my friends. My friends are my family and when I thought that I couldn't do this, when I thought that I was crazy for doing this, I would get a message out of the blue saying, 'Hey, thinking of you today and hope the progress of the store is going great.'"
Although the small-town woman had nothing but thanks for her supporters, those in her community had nothing but praise for her.
Emily Harris, a third grade teacher at Guy-Perkins, said Bartlett is an inspiration to the students within the Guy-Perkins School District.
"She's the glue for our school and holds everything together by keeping parents, the faculty and the community informed," she said.
Bartlett has taken on the task of being the school's key organizer when it comes to big events such as pep rallies and the annual Fall Festival.
"She basically does it all on her own," Harris said, noting Bartlett also makes sure the school is stocked with supplies for each student.
As she has led the school throughout the years in maintaining its spirit and student inclusion, she has left lasting impressions on many students.
Kenzie Brech, an 18-year-old Guy resident who graduated from the Guy-Perkins School District earlier this year, first met Bartlett when Bartlett took over as the school's PTO president five years ago.
Bartlett has proven herself to be more than just the PTO president and has created lasting relationships and respect from the school district's students.
"She has impacted my life by always being there for someone no matter the circumstances," Brech said. "She also has influenced me by putting herself out there and doing what she loves, which is bringing a community together. Whether it be cheering for our basketball teams or supporting our clubs and organizations, [she's] always happy to help, which makes me want to be a leader like her."
Bringing the community together and advocating community support is something Bartlett has also incorporated into her store.
The back half of the business is dedicated to newer furniture pieces, meanwhile the front half is decorated in antique pieces and knick-knacks collected locally.
Pillows, hats, soaps and scrubs, body lotions and other accessories collected from local entrepreneurs immediately catch the eyes of those who walk through the doors of Bartlett's store, which sits just off Highway 65 at the corner of Acklin Gap Road just outside of Conway.
"I love helping local entrepreneurs. That's a big thing for me," Bartlett said. "I just think shopping locally and helping local entrepreneurs is such a huge thing that we can all benefit from. If I can help them with their businesses and people shop locally, it will also help my small business. We should all work to build each other up, and shopping locally will only help further community support."
Those close to Bartlett say they are excited to see her follow her dream through.
"One of Mandy's bet qualities is her 'Never say Never' attitude," Brech said. "She believes you can do anything as long as you put your mind to it and always try. Another great quality she has is her caring personality no matter what the situation [and she's] always there for anyone with a helping and caring hand."
Harris said it's a tremendous quality for Bartlett to balance two full-time jobs on top of dedicating much of her time to the school district, noting her drive does not go unnoticed.
Despite spending much of her time at her recently-opened store and with Baldacci Promotions, there is still time left in the day to make time for her son, 17-year-old Hunter Williams, and supporting him through his scholastic career.
Above all, Bartlett said she will always find time for her boy and the school's children.
"Nothing will affect my ability to support my son or those kids at the school," she said. "I may get busy and I may run a little late at times, but he knows he can count on me. But, just as much as I support him, he supports me. He's always been there for me too. He's an awesome kid. God knew what he was doing when he picked that boy to be my one and only."
Masons Furniture & Market, located at 385 Highway 65 N. is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday.
Bartlett said many items in the store spark conversation between shoppers and that she is always excited to hear the stories of those who walk through her doors, such as those who take time to grab a coke out of the old vending machine that stores glass-bottled sodas.
"So many people stop in here just for this machine, and many of our customers share their stories from their younger days as they browse the front, antique portion of the store."