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Dive Into Entrepreneurship

Six local entrepreneurs provide expert advice and encourage you to explore entrepreneurship.

Article by Lilly Anderson & Olivia Silvey

Photography by Lilly Anderson & Olivia Silvey

Originally published in Kirkwood City Lifestyle

Every day we hear stories of people dropping everything and pursuing their dream of opening their own business. However, what’s it really like to be an entrepreneur? You’re about to find out. We explored entrepreneurship with five entrepreneurs. Some tell their personal story, some offer much-needed advice, and some highlight their unique insights. With each entrepreneur, their passion and drive shines through. Let’s dive in and meet these entrepreneurs. 

Brad Burns

Owner, Burns Holding Company

What's your advice to someone thinking about diving into entrepreneurship?

What's the worst thing that's going to happen? You take a risk, and if it doesn't work out, you return to doing exactly what you're doing now. What are you losing? If you don't try, you'll never know. But if you do try, you have to go all in. If you only dip your toe in, you won't get the success you want. That is really the mindset you should have with everything you do - own it. The first 3 to 5 years of being an entrepreneur are super tough. Many people get so close to the success they seek but give up too soon. Stick it out for another year. It's not easy. You have to really believe in yourself. A unique type of confidence comes from the independence and experience of working for yourself and growing a business. This year, three companies in Burns Holdings - Wayne Contracting, Vizex, and Meramec Pool & Spas - made the St. Louis Business Journal's list of Fastest Growing Companies. Being an entrepreneur opens up new opportunities beyond owning a business. Giving back to the community is the core of every company in Burns Holdings.

Antione Lawrence

Founder, Ascend Real Estate Advisors 

Why did you decide to open up your independent real estate agency?

As a smaller brokerage, I have to offer something more to my clients – and I do. I bring a unique skill set. After receiving my MBA, I became a wealth management advisor in financial services. With my background in finance and over ten years of experience as a real estate agent, I can educate people on financial literacy points and provide a broader scope of financial outcomes throughout the home buying and selling process. Being independent also allows the freedom to do more and go farther. Some real estate companies talk about their "niche market," but I always tell people that my niche is that I sell homes everywhere. I pride myself on being able to do that because most real estate companies won't. Ascend Realty Group is located in Downtown Kirkwood, with listings throughout the state. Being independent, I can create my own path. I grew up in Webster Groves and now live in Kirkwood with my family. I can get around St. Louis without a GPS; if you tell me where you live, I can get there. If you choose me as your real estate advisor, I will get you where you need to be.

Ali Siegel

Owner, Forty Elephants

What inspired you to open Forty Elephants?

I've always been a shopper  — I’ve realized clothing and how I style myself is a way to express myself and who I am. Our store Forty Elephants is named after the all-female crime syndicate that was infamous for pillaging the chicest homes and looting the poshest shops in 19th century London. And that’s how we want the store to feel – as though you’re raiding the most covetable closets in the city. Instead of personally selecting our inventory, individuals can rent a rack and curate and sell collections from their own closets. Our inaugural collection is representative of how I like to shop – there is a little bit of everything. We are working with some amazing collectors who specialize in denim, designer, reworked vintage, heirloom-quality pieces, and so much more. It is important to us to offer diversity in sizes, silhouettes, and vibes. We want to collaborate with everyone – we are so excited to continue building this community of fashion lovers. Forty Elephants is opening soon, located at 200 S. Kirkwood Road in Downtown Kirkwood. 

Tony Turnbeaugh

Co-Owner, Woodhouse Spa

Describe your dive into entrepreneurship. 

I was working in a career that caused a lot of stress. My mom recommended taking time to relax at a spa. The moment I walked into the spa, I put on the robe and the slippers and immediately the stress started dissipating — seriously. It was an unbelievably fantastic experience. About two years ago, my mom and I were looking for something new and different for our careers. We discovered we could open a Woodhouse Spa in St. Louis and provide our guests the same relaxing experience I had. As the co-owner of Woodhouse Spa, my goal is to make you feel like royalty. I understand the stress that everyone has in their lives, and it's important to me that Woodhouse gives you time to relax and rejuvenate with our red light therapy, salt room, infrared sauna, or luxury shower with aromatic sprays to whisk stress away. Everyone should allow themselves the self-care experience that makes mental ease and physical relaxation possible. Woodhouse Spa is the elevated mood care you don’t know you need until you have it — and that is why I dove into being an entrepreneur.

Mike Wilcox

Business Owner | Mayor of the City of Glendale | Adjunct Professor

What is the most important aspect to consider when pursuing entrepreneurship?

I think people should search for a business model. And what I mean by that is, if you don't want to work weekends or nights, don't pursue something in retail, right? Things like schedules and work-life balance should be taken into consideration. When I had my first business, I realized that the model in which you operate is more important than the product or service you provide. People mistakenly think they will have fewer entrepreneurship opportunities if they get too specific about how they want to work. But I guarantee if you narrow in on precisely what you want, you will find exactly what you're looking for. When I started looking for a company to buy, I was like so many entrepreneurs swimming in the pool of 'I have no idea.' I worked with a business broker who helped me determine what I didn't want. As we started narrowing down the list, we found that business-to-business services fit the model of what I was looking for. Entrepreneurs get to decide what works best for them. It's empowering to go after what you want.


  • Brad Burns
  • Brad Burns
  • Antione Lawrence
  • Ali Siegel and David Kerins with their dog, Eddie.
  • Mike Wilcox
  • Tony Turnbeaugh