The average college student worries about writing three papers and studying for four tests within a five-day span. But in the midst of Ole Miss finals week, 20-year-old Haleigh Hurt is more concerned with learning how to file taxes for her own business, Rent-A-Reb.
“It’s fun,” Hurt said. “I really like to learn. It can be kind of a struggle; I’ve had to give up a lot of my social life for it. A lot of times, it can kind of take over, and I think, ‘Oh my gosh, I have a test tomorrow,’ but I think that’s just a price I have to pay.”
Hurt opened Rent-A-Reb in August of 2016 with two goals in mind: to help students who need more flexible work schedules and to provide various services, such as pet care, house cleaning, lawn maintenance and other so-called odd jobs, to the Oxford community.
Pet care and house cleaning have been the top two contributors to Rent-A-Reb’s steady clientele growth, but Hurt has even bigger ideas of what her business will have to offer Oxonians in the future.
“We want even more specific jobs,” Hurt said. “If there’s an Oxford Elementary kid who wants to play soccer, you could rent a Reb to give soccer lessons, or I have a friend who is really good at the piano, so he is absolutely qualified to give piano lessons to someone who’s just starting.”
A.J. Davidson, vice president of Rent-A-Reb, has been by Hurt’s side, both as a friend and business partner, since day one. Davidson had business savvy of his own after running a lawn maintenance company for three years before joining Rent-A-Reb. Still, he was nervous about jumping on the idea at first.
“Personally, I was a little concerned,” he said. “We were already such good friends that I thought, ‘How are we going to keep business and friendship separate?’ Honestly, there was one occasion where I think I stepped on her toes, but other than that, I think it’s probably made us closer friends.”
“And I agree,” Hurt said. “I think we make it work well because we’re both so invested in the same thing that it also brings us together in our friendship.”
The two agree on many things. They bounce ideas well off of one another, and they share similar goals, but what’s most important to both Hurt and Davidson is how success should be defined.
“I think, because it has grown and because we’ve been progressive … I view it as successful,” Hurt said. “There’s always room for improvement, but I think if you look back and you’re able to say, ‘We were here, and now we’re here’ … That’s success.”
Davidson and Hurt have worked hard to maintain long-lasting relationships with clients, which is why they strive to hire college-aged students who are qualified and honest individuals.
“We’re very thorough in making sure they’re trustworthy people,” Hurt said. “We do background checks … so they aren’t random strangers.”
Davidson and Hurt are both juniors this year at Ole Miss. And while both are from out of town, they plan to continue Rent-A-Reb regardless of post-grad ventures.
“There’s a lot of time before we graduate, so there’s a lot to think about still,” Davidson said. “But we plan on growing. Growth will not stop.”
Rent-A-Reb, known for bridging the gap between Ole Miss students and the Oxford community, can be found online at rentareb.com or on Facebook.
Services will be offered until the end of this week (Friday, Dec. 8) and will begin again when the staff returns in mid-January. Stay posted for updates.
By Randall Haley, associate editor of HottyToddy.com. She can be reached at email@example.com.
Video by Sarah Henderson, a broadcast journalism student at Ole Miss.