Colleen Toye Mandeville, Louisiana, USA
In 1982, I started designing Louisiana themed Christmas ornaments made from flour and salt. They were sold in the gift shops of the French Quarter in New Orleans. It was a small business, but it brought in some extra money each month to help us raise our 4 children.
I worked at that business for 12 years until I moved to Mandeville, LA, across Lake Ponchartrain from New Orleans. I was tired of working from home and got a JOB. I worked at many JOBS, never liking the idea of having a boss nor set hours.
In early 2009, Obamacare was starting and the hospitals that my husband was a vendor for were getting scared as to what this was going to do to their client base, and stopped all of their new or ongoing projects.
For 9 months we had no income from him and it was getting pretty scary.
On October 25, I went to Mass and a friend of mine who knew our situation, told me to just say "Praise God" as often as I could remember each day. I had been praying a lot, but I said I'd give it a try.
After 2 days of saying "Praise God" , my husband, Wayne, said out of the blue, "Colleen, why don't you go back to making the ornaments again". I said "no way", been there, done that.
The next day, I found a whole box of the ornaments from 15 years ago, front and center in my office closet, and I had never made them in this house.
That's when I said, St. Anthony, "If you can find the tools (all hand made) that I used to make the ornaments, I would consider making them again".
The following day, I tore the closets apart, but no tools. At the end of the day, I had two choices left, the attic and the garage. I chose the garage. While on my knees looking through boxes in the garage, I looked up at the top shelf and just knew that they were in that box. I proceeded to get a ladder and sure enough, there they were.
But, even after that, I was not convinced that this what God wanted me to do.
So, I called my son and the two of us went to New Orleans to visit what was my best customer before I quit in 1994.
Upon asking if they had any Coffee & Beignet or alligator ornaments, the clerk told me no, but that they used to have someone who did that, but they didn't know what happened to her.
The rest is history. I brought back samples the next week and at this time I have over 20 stores that I wholesale to all over the state of Louisiana.
This little business brought us through our financial crisis.
I thank my friend, Karen, for sharing her faith in God with me.