ASBTDC at ATU Aids Entrepreneurs With Expansion

Stacy Drilling and Misty Willbanks
Photographed (from left-to-right): Stacy Drilling and Misty Willbanks

Friends and business partners Misty Willbanks and Stacy Drilling started their entrepreneurial journey together in 2021 when they launched Southern Sippery Mobile Bar.

Previously, Willbanks worked with Ronda Hawkins from the Arkansas Small Business and Technology Development Center (ASBTDC) regional office at Arkansas Tech University on a different idea that didn’t materialize. When the mobile bar idea came along, things fell into place.

“We recognized an opportunity,” said Willbanks. “We saw a similar business in another state and knew that there was not currently anything like it in Arkansas. So, we jumped. The ASBTDC helped us prioritize the most immediate needs for a successful start.”

After they started booking events in October 2021, news of their traveling cocktail bar and bartending service spread quickly. Working from their homes in Morrilton, the friends set out with their repurposed vintage horse trailer, lovingly named Jolene.

Since then, Southern Sippery Mobile Bar has been featured in the publications such as “Only in Arkansas” and “Say, I Do.”

As their business grew, Willbanks and Drilling started searching for a space to store their trailer and supplies.

“We happened upon a garage with a building attached that had open space and a beautiful vaulted ceiling,” said Willbanks. “A light bulb went off, and we thought we might be able to supplement our garage rental by renting out the space.”

The partners returned to ASBTDC for advice on how to best finance the next phase of their business.

“It was an accidental business expansion,” said Willbanks. “Since our first venture was in the event and wedding category, an event space was familiar, and we already had many of the tools in place to move forward.”

They converted the property at 313 East Commerce in Morrilton, a former car dealership built in 1926, into OrenWood Hall and Southern Social. OrenWood Hall is available for special events, while Southern Social is a collaborative women’s co-working space. Both opened in May 2023.

When asked how ASBTDC was most helpful, Willbanks said “definitely anything to do with money.”

“We are both creatives,” continued Willbanks, “and the ASBTDC’s assistance with numbers and projections have been a huge help. (Business ownership) is harder than it looks. You have to be able to sacrifice. But, it’s also so rewarding to know that we built this business from scratch, and the support from our community and state has been overwhelming.”

Learn more about Southern Sippery Mobile Bar at and OrenWood Hall/Southern Social at

Learn more about the ASBTDC regional office at ATU at