At Marlothomas.com, we're always talking about how important it is for women to continue dreaming, no matter how impossible their goals may seem. Shannon Wilburn, CEO and co-founder of the "consignment event" franchise Just Between Friends, is one woman who took this attitude to heart. In the midst of a recession, Shannon followed her instincts and her dreams and found a creative way to thrive. We were so inspired by her story -- and we hope you will be, too!
In 1997, Shannon and her husband (a minister) were struggling to make ends meet. A stay-at-home mom in Tulsa, Shannon knew she had to start making money in order to help support her family. That's when her mom suggested that, since Shannon had loved consignment sales as a tween, she should hold one in her own living room. Shannon did it: Seventeen consigners participated in that first event, selling $2,000 worth of clothing. Shannon herself earned $150, and she was thrilled. Then people asked, "When are you going to do this again...?" So she held a second event in a bigger venue -- a three-car garage!
Just Between Friends now consists of 116 franchises. It has a presence in 24 states and grosses more than $20 million annually -- all because Shannon followed her instincts and passion and recognized what she was good at! The one thing she didn't do was let fear of taking a risk get in her way. "Children outgrow their clothes every six months," she says. "I still have a passion for helping women save money."
Here are three fearless lessons Shannon learned that you can try yourself:
1) Surround yourself with smart people. "I don't have an MBA," says Shannon. "I like to say I'm an 'accidental entrepreneur.'"
2) Learn to delegate. "I felt like I had to be all things to all people," admits Shannon. "That is not the case."
3) Work within your strengths, and collaborate with people who effectively complement both your strengths and weaknesses.
Shannon and her family in the big city.
These simple racks would soon expand.
If you build it, they will come!
A simple sign and word of mouth can be powerful things.
And the business just kept growing.
Soon Shannon was staffing up.
And the lines began to grow.
And the company continued to grow.
Greetings from "Just Between Friends!"
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