Then: Holly Steeley was an aerialist for Le Rêve, Phantom-The Las Vegas Spectacular and Storm from 1999-2013.
Now: Owner of Holley’s Cuppa coffee shop in the Mountain’s Edge community.
Since bringing home her first paycheck at age 16, Steeley had always socked away a good portion of her earnings for a rainy day. So after being turned down over and over for a small business loan—Would you loan money to an aerialist with little off-stage experience and no business degree?—Steeley decided it was time to make her own rain. She pulled out her savings and racked up credit-card debt to open the specialty coffee shop she had long wanted to launch. “I probably did everything you’re not supposed to do, but I had to,” Steeley says. “Whatever I did for a second career, it had to be something I was passionate about. Entertainers are lucky, because we get paid to do something we truly love. I couldn’t face giving that up.”
Sinking her money into a risky business venture was a surprisingly easy decision. Steeley says she had spent five years researching the industry at coffee conventions and traveling to South American farms to learn how coffee beans were harvested. Further proof of her dedication: She tested roasting techniques and even got a part-time job as a barista while still performing until midnight at Le Rêve. “I was tired all the time, but I had to know that I’d love this business before I took that final leap off-stage.”
She loves it so much that she’s developing a second Cuppa location at the Gramercy off Russell Road and Interstate 215. “I still don’t have a finance degree, but now I’ve got a lot of success under my belt. I’m pretty sure loan officers look at me more seriously now.” Indeed, they do: Just last week Steeley secured a Small Business Administration loan. “I’m still giggling,” she says. “This is a big deal!”