Today’s post is personal.
Someone I admire greatly suggested that I name this post “How to Raise Successful Children as a Single Parent and Direct Sales Leader” and while I gave that some serious thought, I decided that the word “grateful” is a better summary of how I really feel today. *Ü*
You see, my oldest daughter Katie graduated from College this past weekend. I am so proud of her – and of the woman that she has become. But I’m even more proud that both of my daughters have blossomed into responsible, polite, kind, intelligent, empathetic women. And my Direct Sales business has played a large part in that.
How I stumbled into Direct Sales
Here are the facts of my life since children. I quit my job as a Mortgage Banker to be a stay-at-home mom and had my first daughter at 40. When my second daughter was born 18 months later, I went straight into menopause and discovered stamping – seemingly all at the same time.
I had never crafted before (ever!) and it was a huge personal discovery to learn that I could be creative & crafty. The first moment I saw the Stampin’ Up! Catalog, I was hooked. I joined the very next day and have never looked back. My goal was primarily to feed my habit and meet other women. (We had just moved to a new town and I didn’t know a soul.)
And for awhile, I did just that. I met lots of new women through Stampin’ Up! and strong friendships were formed, many of which still exist today. And I definitely supported my stamp addiction hobby.
When I had to get serious about Direct Sales
2 years later, I went through an unexpected divorce. My own divorce attorney (a woman) told me: “Barb, you need to go back to Mortgage Banking. You’d make more money flipping burgers at McDonald’s than you ever will at this home party thing.”
Well, I had already accomplished all that I had wanted to accomplish in the “real world” and I knew that what I wanted in this phase of my life was to stay home and be with my babies. So basically, I flipped off her advice and said “Watch me.” And over the next 18 years, I raised both of my daughters with only my Stampin’ Up! income (and to be totally transparent, a lot of help from my parents & sister.)
Those were the days of in-home parties and I was doing 6-8 parties a week. Since my parents & sister lived over 6 hours away, I was blessed to find 2 high school girls who became my babysitters. I would leave after the girls ate dinner, drive to my home party and be home by 9. When the girls were younger, that meant I often missed putting them to bed, but as they grew older, I was usually able to get home before bedtime. Usually, but not always.
And I missed a lot of Saturdays. I would do 3 parties on a Saturday, back-to-back, to maximize my babysitter time. But Saturday nights were “family time.” After every party, I’d come home and put 5% of the profit from the party in a big jar. This was the girl’s “helper jar” – for the work they did helping our business grow. On Saturday’s, we’d take that money and go have a family night. Whatever the girls wanted. Let me just say that Build-A-Bear knew their names and rejoiced when they walked in the door. *Ü*
With a lot of hard work, tears, determination, and joy, I had developed a very successful business. But finally, life caught up to me.
When I almost had to give up on Direct Sales
When Katie was 3 years old, she was diagnosed with a chronic illness, Ulcerative Colitis. Despite the occasional serious flare-up, we were able to keep it under control. UC is one of those “hidden” diseases that greatly impacts day-to-day living, but isn’t visible to everyone else. And my brave, strong, courageous daughter faced this challenge every day and demanded to live a “normal” life. I honestly don’t know where she found the courage to do many of things she did.
But one day, while at a party over an hour away from home, I got a call from our babysitter. Katie was really sick and it was clear she needed to go to the ER. That hour drive to the hospital just about did me in – the fear, the guilt, so many emotions. I decided that day that something had to change.
And that was the end of my home party career. I decided I would now do classes in my home. I totally expected to see a serious drop in income and I wasn’t sure how we were going to survive. How was I going to pay the bills, especially our medical insurance? How the heck would this work? I sought advice from my best customers. I sought comfort from my parents & sister. I prayed.
And it all worked out. Mainly because I have the best customers & downline in the world. I learned that as long as you keep moving forward, as long as you continue to learn new things, to be willing to try new things, to be scared but still willing to jump off the cliff and have faith that you’ll develop wings on the way down, then you will be ok. And we were.
Why I’ll always be Grateful to Stampin’ Up!
Direct Sales shaped the structure of our life. We have never had a lot of money. We live in a small house. We don’t have a lot of “things”. But my girls have learned the value of hard work.
They have seen that if you set a goal and work towards that goal, you’ll get results.
They’ve watched the strength and beauty of women truly supporting other women and lifting each other up in the process.
And that is why I am so grateful to the Direct Sales industry. Because it has allowed me the freedom to be the kind of mom I wanted to be. Not a perfect one, but a mom who woke up every day with a passion & joy for what she did and could share that happiness with her daughters. A mom who sometimes struggled to pay the bills, but was able to do it on her own terms – and in her own way.
And a mom who has 2 beautiful daughters who embody everything she ever hoped to accomplish as a mom. That isn’t luck – that comes from the gift of time and being happy within yourself so that you can be the kind of mom you always wanted to be.
And owning my own direct sales business gave me exactly that – time, a little money, and a whole lot of joy.
Who wouldn’t be grateful for that?