Celebrating people for who they are is something Stephanie Hoover learned from her parents, Adam and Lydia Dutchover.
“My mother had a flair about her,” Hoover said. “She was vivacious. She had a passion for people. Both of my parents did.
“My dad passed away about seven months ago. He sold his prosthetics business before he passed away. I did medical billing for him for almost 10 years. I got to really know my dad at a different level. I saw how he cared for his patients and made positive changes in their lives. I loved that about my dad.
“My sister, Jennifer, is a role model. She looks like my mom and acts like my dad, and I look like my dad and act like my mom.”
As director of sales at La Quinta Inn and Suites, Hoover enjoys the balance of serving and earning a living.
“When you’re in sales,” she said, “you’re always pushed to get more bang for your buck. But there’s an inner joy about being in sales. With my teaching background, I love to see that light bulb go on in somebody. It’s a joy to be able to help someone to get what they need and in return, you’re getting what you need.
“My kids, Logan and Makenzie, and my friends hear me say this all the time: ‘Everything is a business opportunity.’ When you’re talking with people, you’re talking, you hear what their needs are. Same thing with business. So it’s just a matter of going out to meet their needs and it comes back to you as well.”
Hoover is also an entrepreneur. She owns Stephanie’s Berries. She started off selling chocolate covered strawberries.
“I’ve been doing Stephanie’s Berries for 15 years this month,” she said. “It was inspired by my mother. When I started Stephanie’s Berries I had my two children at home and needed a second income. I wanted to stay home with them. My mom had suggested that I do chocolate-covered strawberries. So, one Valentine’s Day I advertised to do just chocolate-covered strawberries. It went really well.
“My mom passed away and the following year my dad got all of these calls at his house, which I didn’t know about. He asked what I wanted to do about the strawberry orders. I hadn’t even planned to do it again, but I called all of my clients and filled those orders. Over time we’ve added cakes and pastries. I do a lot of catering.
“I needed to get out of the house more so I started working at the hotel. Now I’m so busy here that Stephanie’s Berries isn’t growing like it had been, but it’s still very much a part of my life.”
She didn’t start off to be a businesswoman. Her first passion was music.
“I toured with the Young Continental Singers for three years,” Hoover said. “They travel the world singing. They’re a Christian group. I was on the first tour ever, in 1993. It was my Junior year in high school. It was amazing. We were in a different place every night. We were singing, performing, setting up the stage, meeting people from all over the world and traveling. I did that for two summers, and they asked if I would be a chaperone the next year. So I got to be an assistant director for one tour.
“Mom had a long Lincoln Continental and my friends called it the limousine. They would tease me about it when she picked me up at school. I remember the day I got the acceptance letter from the Young Continental Singers, we both sat in her car crying.”
After high school, Hoover studied to be an educator.
“My degree was in music education, at ENMU, with a piano minor, emphasis in math,” she said. “I have a teaching background. I worked at Valley Christian Academy for a year. I taught first-grade math, second-grade reading, and home economics for high school students. I also did music and art for Kindergarten through sixth grade until they closed their doors.
“When that door closed in 2016 my dad got sick and went to Lubbock. He went downhill fast, and I was able to be there with him. For me, it’s a God thing. Everything works out in God’s time.”
To better keep her focus, she listens to inspirational speakers every day.
“I like to listen to inspirational speakers,” Hoover said. “Les Brown says to listen to encouraging things the first thing every day. How you start your day determines how you experience the rest of the day. My best friend Marlene and I write … positive words on our water bottles, like hope, joy, love, and laughter. We have almost stopped writing ‘patience’ on them. Patience is not a virtue. I think it’s a talent.”
A foundation of her faith goes back to what her parents modeled, acceptance of everybody exactly where they are.
“Everyone takes the world differently, Hoover said. “To say that it has to be one specific way is just not right. Just like math, the conclusion can be found in many ways. All of our lives move down different paths based on our choices in life. If we all did the same things, how boring that would be? Nothing would be learned. Friends and family are more valuable than treasure. The older you get, you realize that the word ‘family’ runs deeper than just blood relation. We are here to walk together in life and carry each other when we need help to do so. We all make our own successes and have our acts of stupidity. I cherish the ‘tell it like it is’ friend. Where the advice may not always be what I want to hear, but always what I need to. We need to accept people for who they are with no judgments.
“It’s the same with sales. You can’t see people as a game-piece. You have to see them as individuals. Tell the ones nearest and dearest to you that you love them as often as you can because none of us knows our final day.”
While life hasn’t always been easy for Hoover, she has learned that how she responds to life’s challenges determines how she will come through them. She has come through it all with one guiding principle she wishes the entire world shared.
“People need to go for what they’re passionate about,” she said. “If you don’t go for your passions you’re going to be standing still. Don’t feel that you’re not able to do things. Push yourself past your comfort zones. Live your life to the fullest. Have that independence to know that it may be scary at first, but you can look back and say ‘Wow! Look what I did!’”