• ads

Bayou Profile | The Head Fashionista

By Nathan Coker
In Bayou Profile
May 2nd, 2023

article by Meredith McKinnie 
photography by Kelly Moore Clark

Hanna Herrington Lavergne was raised in a family of entrepreneurs, notably female small business owners who put their fashion stamp on the Monroe community. Hanna’s mother Debbie Herrington and aunt Cindy Stone opened HerringStones in Monroe in 1989. The trendsetters sought the best brands and merchandise for local clientele and even customers beyond the 318. While Hanna was in and out of the store from the time she was 2-years old, she kept busy dancing for Linda Lavender for 16 years, being a member of the Twin City Ballet for 10 years, and cheering at West Monroe High School. Hanna enrolled at ULM and majored in marketing with a minor in business. While not quite sure of her next step, Hanna knew the sales world and planned to chart her own path. Upon graduating in 2009, Hanna moved to Lafayette, taking a sales job in the oil field. She quickly noticed the missed market for retail spaces in Lafayette, particularly trendy boutiques like HerringStones back home. One night, after acknowledging her lagging personal style, Hanna pondered opening a boutique in Lafayette. She could fill the local need and put her marketing skills to use. When she called Debbie, her mother asked what she would call the store. Hanna knew she liked the HerringStones aesthetic and suggested expanding the local favorite down south. In April of 2010, Hanna opened the second HerringStones location in Lafayette. 

The HerringStones expansion allowed for an inventory of the store’s current systems and business practices. While the store remained popular, Hanna saw room for updates in her new location. She quickly learned QuickBooks and sought to simplify the business side of the operation. The Lafayette expansion allowed HerringStones to evolve, becoming a staple of the store’s growth over the last 13 years. As social media platforms became a component of boutique sales, Hanna started a Facebook page and eventually an Instagram account. Hanna led the way in bringing HerringStones up-to-date and online. Surprised by the warm reception from the Lafayette press, Hanna dove into making the most of her growing customer base. 

With any growing success comes inevitable setbacks. In June of 2010, the oil spill decimated the South Louisiana economy, and Hanna saw short term dips in the store’s revenue. Forced to balance what her customers wanted with what the store could afford, Hanna’s hard business decisions required frequent pivots, a code word that would continue for years to come. But with hardship comes opportunity. During these forced pivots, Hanna intricately learned the business. As her business techniques manifested, she navigated how to make it work, regardless of external circumstances. While she experienced failures, she learned that failure was integral to future success. Failure allows one room to grow. Balancing inventory, staff, customer needs, and finances, Hanna perfected her business methods and finally understood the necessity of change. 

Since opening the second location in 2010, HerringStones style has evolved with its customer base. While the HerringStones clientele spans all ages, the cornerstone of bold fashions and customer confidence remain steadfast. The store’s fashion choices steer toward “who she strives to be,” catering to daughters and grandmothers alike. The HerringStones brand has evolved, and that willingness to progress forward continues to invite new customers to the brand. 

Hanna and her team garner marketing ideas from big box stores and then localize to suit the brand’s personality, which Hanna describes as “charming, inspirational, and confident.” When marketing is popular, it is inevitably mimicked, and Hanna’s team quickly pivots in a new direction. HerringStones stores operate their e-commerce through Shopify. The HerringStones’ style is bold and sophisticated. Picture a bright floral top with fitted jeans. The brand leans into practical, classic styles with a touch of flair via color and prints. Hanna describes her customers as people who prefer statement pieces. 

HerringStones now offers 5 brick-and-mortar locations across the state of Louisiana. After the initial opening in Monroe, followed by Hanna’s second location in Lafayette, the company opened a sister store HeirLoom by HerringStones in Youngsville in 2017. Former Lafayette employee Claire Kostelka Texada co-owns and co-operates the Youngsville location and is integral to the overall HerringStones operation. Hanna calls Claire her “saving grace.” In 2018, Bethany Dodd Martin opened a fourth location, HeirLoom by HerringStones in Houma. And in 2019, Hanna’s sister Haley opened the fifth location of HerringStones in Baton Rouge. At the same time of rapid physical growth, the e-commerce side of the business was expanding quickly. Hanna realized she could not maintain a physical store and the e-commerce inventory in the same store. She purchased a 5000-square-foot warehouse to process orders. After the Covid shutdown, the business saw 35% growth with e-commerce going through the roof. The warehouse became its own entity, with its own staff and marketing team. 

Amidst all the business growth and change, Hanna met Jarrad Lavergne. The couple have been married for ten years and have two children. Luke is 4 ½ and Herrington Kate is 1 ½. Navigating work and home life is challenging; every day is different. While Hanna plans everything weeks ahead, just like with the business, she is ready to pivot on a dime. The daily transition from boss to mom/wife also involves a learning curve. Each woman must figure out what works best for her and her family. While Hanna and Jarrad are both constantly working, they value their kids seeing the importance of a strong work ethic. They find comfort in routine; and the kids thrive on a consistent schedule. The family outsources where they can. Hanna seeks harmony as opposed to the myth of balance. 

In the last year, Hanna has started reflecting on her personal and professional goals, asking “What do I want?” While she loves selling clothes and connecting with customers, Hanna wants to give back and encourage the next generation of small business entrepreneurs. Post-Covid, Hanna noticed her young staff experiencing anxiety and insecurity, remnants of a lack of socialization. Losing contact with the outside world makes it difficult for people to function in the world once one returns. Hanna strives to lead and help develop strong, female personalities that can make their small business dreams come true right at home. She finds fulfillment in helping others, in building a strong professional foundation for others to cultivate and emulate. To this end, Hanna was recently awarded the Marquis Who’s Who of America 2022-2023. 

As the HerringStones brand is synonymous with growth, Hanna envisions growth outside of business revenue. She wants to work on the company culture, elevate the mindset of her staff, and establish core values. Identifying a central business identity helps with everything from interviewing, to interacting with customers, to handling customer feedback. Hanna envisions HerringStones continual evolution, whether it be externally or internally. Entrepreneurship is consistent with a mindset of change, and Hanna Herrington Lavergne is mastering both.