This story was written for WRAL TechWire partner the Town of Holly Springs.

They say it takes a village. For Town of Holly Springs resident Beth Martinez de Andino, Holly Springs has been her village — one that has helped make her entrepreneurial dreams come true and also supported her through some of her darkest times.

Martinez de Andino’s story is about both professional triumph and personal trials, with Holly Springs serving as both the launching ground and the backdrop of her journey.

“We moved to Holly Springs in the summer of 2008,” Martinez de Andino said. “We are from south Wisconsin and we were really tired of the winters. I did my research and Holly Springs popped up on my radar. We checked out the area and loved it, and decided that this is where we were going to move.”

At the time, Martinez de Andino and her husband, Gerry, had school-aged kids and Holly Springs’ schools and neighborhoods suited their familial needs, though it looked a lot different than it does today. What is now a thriving hub for business, life science companies and growing economic development, was once considered a “bedroom community” for families with mostly subdivisions, parks and little else.

“Before we even moved here from Wisconsin, I talked to my husband about owning my own retail store. But then we got busy getting the kids settled in school and all that good stuff. In 2015, I came across some old emails and realized I wanted to start pursuing this dream of mine,” Martinez de Andino said.

In Wisconsin, Martinez de Andino had worked at a small retail store; but her love of shops, thrift stores and boutiques started early on in life. As a child, Martinez de Andino loved to go “treasure hunting” with her mother at consignment stores, and she later developed a hobby of refurbishing old furniture.

She wanted to open a place of her own where others could find unique treasures.

“I reached out to Irena Krstanovic, the town economic development director, about the possibility of finding a location for this store that I wanted to open. We started going through the process of talking about different potential buildings and locations,” Martinez de Andino explained. “I really wanted to be downtown, but there was no real downtown at the time.”

Krstanovic started scouting properties, and called Martinez de Andino when she found a historic home in what is now the downtown district that the owner wanted to sell to someone who was interested in turning it into offices or retail space. As soon as Martinez de Andino saw it, she fell in love.

With a potential home for her budding business idea, there were a few things Martinez de Andino had to figure out first, such as the type of storefront it was going to be.

“The more I got to know people in the community, the more I started to realize there was a big need for local artisans to showcase and sell their work. The fact that there was no place for local artisans to do so — we needed something like that in town,” said Martinez de Andino. Martinez de Andino conducted a survey that gauged interest for such a place and the results confirmed the Holly Springs community felt the same.

As a result, Center Street Market was born in 2016. Center Street Market is a monthly artisan marketplace adjacent to the Holly Springs Farmers Market. Because of their work on this project, the Martinez de Andinos were invited by the Town to be part of its Certified Entrepreneurial Community stakeholder group.

In 2017, Holly Springs became the first CEC North Carolina town as part of a strategy to make the city a place where entrepreneurs succeed.

Propelling these efforts forward, in 2018 the town implemented the LaunchHOLLYSPRINGS program. The program is a nationally known project charted by the local Holly Springs Rotary Club that aims to equip business owners with the tools they need to start or grow a successful business. It allows existing and potential business owners to attend valuable classes provided through a partnership with Wake Tech Community College, get one-on-one mentoring and network.

The Martinez de Andinos were invited to apply, and they were subsequently accepted.

“Even though we had owned a business before, we wanted to sharpen our business details and make sure that our idea for this business was a viable idea. The support was huge — all of us from the first cohort are still friends,” Martinez de Andino said. “Just to have the backing of Wake Tech and the community, it was amazing. Even though we began talking with Irena in 2015, we approached it like we were just starting out.”

Being a part of LaunchHOLLYSPRINGS confirmed what Martinez de Andino already knew — her business idea was a good one.

But as many people know, life has plans of its own, and not long after the Martinez de Andinos wrapped the program, Beth was diagnosed with cancer. Adding insult to injury, Beth’s father became terminally ill, leaving her to have to manage a major diagnosis, grief and the stress of trying to open a new business all at once.

“This all [the business stuff] got put on the back burner for a little bit. I needed to absorb all that was going on. The building still wasn’t ready anyway. So I started my treatments — it was six treatments over 18 weeks,”  Martinez de Andino said.

Determined not to let the diagnosis deter the opening, the Martinez de Andinos came up with a plan: Beth would focus on her treatment and the aesthetic look of the store, and Gerry would handle everything else. Little did they know, they wouldn’t be alone on their journey. In the middle of Martinez de Andino’s chemotherapy, the town rallied to get her store — Our Moments in Time — up and running.

With fundraising efforts to back her treatment and hands ready to be put to work, the Holly Springs village showed up for its town member.

On June 23, 2019, Our Moments in Time opened in the original building that Martinez de Andino first fell in love with four years prior. An unknowing passerby could walk by Our Moments in Time and see a charming storefront, not realizing the labor and love that went into its four walls or the time it took to build upon its foundation.

“People from the community came together and helped us move stuff in and set it all up; they hung stuff on walls, cleaned, mopped. Friends and community members came in at 10 p.m. before the opening asked, ‘What do you need me to do?'” Martinez de Andino said. “I couldn’t have done it without my husband and friends and people in the community. It just could not have happened.”

On the same day Our Moments in Time opened, Martinez de Andino’s father’s time came to an end.

“On the day we opened our doors, my dad passed away. I had to open these doors with a smile on my face when I really felt like sitting down and crying. But I had to keep going — the support we got was incredible, people just kept pouring through the door,” she said. “We had the official grand opening and ribbon cutting a week later, and it was the most highly attended ribbon cutting in Holly Springs to date.”

Our Moments in Time is a place where you can get a locally made gift or unique handmade item, or meet up for a cup of coffee. The storefront features work from 30 local artisans and has everything from soaps and lotions to custom illustrations and refurbished furniture. It’s coffee counter is also everything Martinez de Andino dreamt about. It also serves as a heartwarming reminder of the community that lifted her up in a time of need and made it possible for her business to grow.

“I have always wanted it to be about community and fellowship. Yes, we have a business to run too, but it’s just a place where we can all come together and be supportive of each other,” Martinez de Andino said. “People are coming in the door, and they’re supporting their neighbors and people in the community and that money then turns around and gets put back into the community. I love the fact that I can be responsible for making people happy and helping people.”

Our Moments in Time’s creation reflects a pivotal time in Martinez de Andino’s life, and its existence represents the future of many memories that are to be created there.

This story was written for WRAL TechWire partner the Town of Holly Springs.