As you sit down to dinner (probably something grilled with a Spanish flavor and a punch of heat) with Heather Looney, you might hear about her early days spent on the back of a horse, the late nights singing at fairs and bars, her stint as a caterer, how singing and songwriting as North 40 came to be, her passion for Women Build, and her 25 years and countless days on construction sites with Castle Homes. Heather will share a bit of her story with you, as she has done with us, and you’ll be smiling the whole time. Heather is an inspiring, uplifting and genuine person with a heart the size of Louisiana, Texas and Tennessee combined. We are glad to be able to introduce her as today’s FACE of Nashville.
You are originally from Shreveport, LA. What brought you to Tennessee?
I started coming to Nashville with my dad when I was 15 for music. I got to know the town and got my feet wet singing at juke joints. My dad put me up onstage with any given band around town!
I studied marketing at Louisiana State University in Shreveport and worked every kind of job (including radio and TV commercials, modeling and jingle work while singing in local bars on the “Louisiana Hayride” and on “Johnnie High Country Music Revue”). From Shreveport I went to Austin, TX, before moving to Los Angeles. After touring and singing demos in LA, I decided I needed to get back to my Southern roots. So, Dallas was the destination. Dallas is where I met my bareback-rider cowboy, builder, engineer Alan Looney (a sweet, honest cowboy with big plans for his future). Our backgrounds in horses and country music, along with building and design, melded together. I needed to move to Nashville and Alan said, “I can build houses anywhere with you.”
With Alan, you founded Castle Homes. Can you tell us a bit about the company and your responsibilities?
Architecture with interior and fashion design have always been my passion. After retiring, my dad chose to be a builder/remodeler and sealed my love for the industry, so it is in my blood. My mother has always been an artist, and my stepfather has amazing business sense and acumen. I am blessed to have had such great teachers and smart parents!
Once in Nashville, Alan and I established Castle Homes and started custom building Tudor homes and architecturally styled homes that were quaint and attractive for the right price. We wanted to deliver a product that was not only designed and appointed correctly, but also within our clients’ budgets and delivered on time. It is an honor being able to see the lives that are truly lived within the homes we design together and build. Our homes are as unique as our clientele, and we reinvent the wheel every time we build a house to match the clients’ dreams. We believe the famous slogan, “A man’s home is his castle” — it is their castle, not our castle. For 25 years, Alan and I have built this business together, and we have built a team that is like family!
I started as Castle Homes’ lead designer, vice president, head of marketing and sales, job site cleaner and coffee getter. Now, I am an assistant to all of that, as we have many who bring updated talents and knowledge to the table. I learn something new from someone everyday!
I am the owner of the business; I have been successful as a touring musician and garnered many talents and relationships. I think my success is due to the fact that I have always been in assistance and service of people, helping them to get what they need or helping them do something better. I never want to stop being in assistance of others. It’s what I am best at.
You started a band, North 40, with Paige Logan. Can you tell us a bit about being one half of this country duo?
North 40 was together for seven years, and we just had a blast. Paige and I are joined at the heart when it comes to music and North 40’s message. North 40 is an attitude and a lifestyle — and, a marketing concept for sure. Our message is: it’s never too late to be what you might have been or to take the reins and steer your life in the direction of positiveness, which we call “North” because after 40 we have enough going south. There are so many that think life after 40 is the time to sit back and “yer dun,” but it is not. It is just about recreating life and forging new trails. It is not dress rehearsal anymore; it is the real deal, and you better get it right with no time to waste.
We had a good run, but our lives have sent us to other fields deeper into our own North 40, over different fences and through the woods.
What is your next restaurant destination?
What do you think distinguishes Nashville from other Southern cities?
Nashville is a larger city with a hometown feel. It still has that sweet hometown character in just about everything it does. The business and social growth in Nashville and surrounding areas is amazing. We welcome the growth, but are careful not to bite off a bigger bite than we can chew. We are so steeped in tradition and have many who are fighting to keep it that way. We have so much cultural history rolled in with up-to-date metropolitan development and education, a diverse climate, tourism and shopping … who could ask for a more perfect place to raise a family?
What is the best piece of advice you have received?
While my son was attending basketball camp, Coach Lyle at Brentwood Academy, gave a lesson about being a fountain, not a drain. You must be a joy, an uplifter, and be a present player in everything that you do. I am grateful for his lesson that day and his selfless service for our children!
Another good one is: “The best teacher is your last mistake.”
What are three things you can’t live without?
Woo Skincare + Cosmetics (but I jump ship for Nice Buzz lip gloss from MAC), lots of prayer every single day, Mpower Fitness and my Castle Homes team members and friends! (Okay, that is more than three. I cheated!)
Thank you to Ashley Hylbert for today’s beautiful photographs. See more of her work on her website — click here.
There are so many inspiring women in Nashville. Read all about them in our FACES section — click here.