Photos by April Smith, Railyard Media
Ivy Eilerman (maiden name Richards) was born in Savannah, GA. She grew up in Westwood Heights subdivision in Rincon, GA, the oldest daughter in a family of 6 children. Ivy’s big heart and giving nature allowed her to take on a role as caregiver to her younger siblings at the age of 10 years old after her parents divorced.
“We didn’t have much, so we entertained ourselves with music and by attending church,” Ivy said.
Ivy also watched her mother, Gloria, work very hard. “My Mama is the hardest working person I know,” says Ivy. Inheriting her mother’s strong work ethic, Ivy excelled throughout her time in Effingham County schools.
In 1998, Ivy decided to enroll herself in college at Georgia Southern University to pursue a degree in early childhood education. According to Ivy, “Life had other plans.” Ivy married in 1999 and later—during her sophomore year at GSU—she found out she was pregnant with her son, Cody. In 2001, leaving behind a bad situation—she divorced and began raising her son Cody alone.
“Realizing your worth is priceless. Who you surround yourself with will determine the rest of your life.”
Finding Her Way
Ivy struggled to make ends meet. She and Cody lived in low-income housing while she tried to finish school and worked two jobs: waitressing and cleaning houses. Ivy was unable to finish her degree at GSU, but she always felt like she was made for more, so she began looking for an opportunity for a real career in the newspaper help-wanted ads.
Her inherent need to help people lead her to her first job in the lending industry in 2001. When she first started originating home loans, she was handling cash-out refinance business for a mortgage company in Savannah. “It was a natural fit. Knowing I was offering a service that could help struggling families meant a lot to me.” said Ivy.
Love at First Sight
In 2004, Ivy met Ricky Eilerman at Bay Street Blues when she was out for karaoke night with some co-workers. “It was love at first sight.”
Over the years, Ivy’s love for music lead her to play and sing at various venues and to song writing. She has been able to record a few of her own songs.
“Music is therapeutic to the artist and the audience.” according to Ivy.
Ricky, a decorated Army veteran and former City of Savannah Firefighter, was stationed at Ft. Stewart when he met Ivy. He began a career as a Real Estate Agent in 2016 with the encouragement of Ivy and is now a top producing agent with Sherman and Hemstreet Real Estate Company.
In 2009 Ricky and Ivy were married. Ricky helped raise Cody, and they began building a life together. In 2010, Ricky and Ivy welcomed a baby boy: Caden. In 2012, a baby girl: Grace Elizabeth.
Since 2001, Ivy has worked in lending in some capacity whether it was residential or commercial, and whether it was assisting, processing, or originating. The vast experience has come in quite handy with understanding a borrower’s full financial picture and how to best help each borrower.
In 2011, Ivy became a Mortgage Advisor after having been discouraged to try her hand at it by a former supervisor. “I was certainly driven by being told ‘you won’t make it’ and that same voice drives me today to help folks who were told ‘no’ elsewhere.”
Not Giving Up
Over the years, Ivy has been referred to as a ‘miracle worker’ by some of her referral partners and colleagues. Being modest, Ivy says that title is “too kind.” She says it just comes down to not giving up on someone. If there is a way to get the loan approved, she will find it!
Ivy’s experience and passion has allowed her to expand her business. Now in 2022, Ivy is the Branch Manager for Angel Oak Home Loans. She manages a team of 6 and has been fortunate enough to realize a lot of success and to help lead others to success. She originates loans in Georgia, Florida and South Carolina.
A Thriving Team
Ivy believes that the characteristics that set her and team apart are: commitment, communication, experience, responsibility and responsiveness. She just won’t hire someone who is not a good culture fit for her team.
“I have had the honor of working closely with Scott Seckinger & Mandi Macklin for 8 years. They are the true backbone of our team. And our most recent success has exceeded my expectations under the leadership of Mac Cregger, my Regional Manager whom I have worked under for almost 7 years.”
Ivy’s team also includes Katie Patronis (her sister), Aaron Sharp,
Kayla Sasser and Asjah Barfield. Each person brings their own strength
to the team.
Ivy not only works in Angel Oak Home Loans, she is also the co-owner of What The Effingham, LLC—a charitable organization—and the co-owner of Railyard Media, LLC.
Ivy and Ricky co-own Railyard Media, LLC with Zac Hayes, the company’s Creative Director. Railyard Media is a hometown source of big-time productions. Services include social media and other video content, photography and podcast productions.
What The Effingham, LLC is a company that has allowed Ivy to give back to her community. Through mainly t-shirt and hat sales reflecting the company’s clever name, the company has been able to help several local families and charities in need.
“‘What The Effingham’ is a fun statement to draw attention to the refreshing renewal going on in Effingham County. When thinking of Effingham County, we hope to help spread the idea that Effingham County is a quality place to live, grow, work, eat, play and pray! What The Effingham hopes to be a friend to all by distributing donated funds to various families and charities in need, in order to help build and promote a united and strong community.”
Ivy also owns and manages 5 rental properties, one of which is a commercial property known as The Railyard on Laurel Street, that she co-owns with her husband.
Caden is now 12 and attends ECMS. Grace is 10 and attends Guyton Elementary.
Ivy’s oldest son, Cody is now 22, and recently graduated from UGA with an Engineering degree. Cody is continuing with his master’s degree at UGA and credits his mother with providing the encouragement to keep him going and his dad, Ricky, for making him tough.
But Ivy says it is all Cody. He has always been academically gifted and made good decisions.
In late 2022, Ivy plans to open another branch of Angel Oak Home Loans in Springfield on Laurel Street and also has plans to complete 2 more renovation projects in Springfield. One will be residential, and one will be a commercial space. “The commercial space is going to be very exciting for local folks and will be located inside The Railyard.”
“God’s favor is real,” says Ivy. “I have been blessed beyond anything I deserve so it is important to me to keep thinking positively and keep thanking Him daily.”
Ivy hopes that her story can help inspire other female entrepreneurs who think the odds are stacked against them. She says the secret to her success has been being “driven by purpose, not comparison.” Her favorite quote is “You can never be wrong by choosing to do the right thing.”