Monday, December 15, 2008

Marketplace Mavens: featuring Lori of Premier Designs (Part I)

After being introduced briefly to Lori at a local networking event, I knew immediately that I wanted to interview her as one of this year's Marketplace Mavens. Needless to say, I felt fortunate when she agreed to meet me for lunch and talk shop about the entrepreneurial life.

It became clear to me soon into our conversation that I would need Two weeks to share Lori's story instead of just one, so today will be about Lori's personal journey as a Maven, and next week we'll talk about some of the benefits (and misconceptions) of a home-party business model. So, without further adieu, her story....

Lori's journey into running her own business began like many businesses do: as a fun hobby on the side. As a stay-at-home mom, she was looking for a way to meet other women and maybe make some money, so she dipped her toes into selling through Mary Kay before stumbling upon Premier Designs. Lori quickly fell in love with their jewelry, and signed up to become a representative.

As Lori's excitement for the products she was selling grew, so did her business. Unfortunately at the same time her marriage was headed in the opposite direction. An unexpected divorce shortly followed, and almost overnight Lori found herself as a single mom with three kids and without a full-time income.

So, Lori did what most of us would have done--she shelved her work with Premier Designs and got a "real" job working in education. Like many Mavens, however, the 9-5 was not a good fit. She missed spending time with her children, and the joy she had while selling something she loved. So Lori did the unthinkable--she quit her job in education, giving up health benefits and a steady income, and decided to sell Premier jewelry full-time. She hasn't looked back since.

Here is what inspired me about Lori's personal story:
1. Her courage. Lori obviously took great risks to walk away from the security of a full-time job. But she knew that working from home would be the best thing for her children, and that working for a company she respected selling products she loved would be the best thing for her. The risks were worth the reward, and she was willing to take them.
2. Her confidence. I know that she experienced personal battles after a painful divorce, but Lori overcame them by believing that she could build a business that would support the kind of lifestyle she wanted for her family and pay the bills. She practiced affirming herself daily, and her business is a testimony to her perseverance.
3. Her faith. Lori reminded me that hard work and confidence aren't always enough. For a lot of Mavens, strength to live the entrepreneurial life also comes from spiritual beliefs that can get us through tough times. Having those beliefs can be as important as having a business plan

One message that Lori wanted to press with me was how valuable her business has been to help her weather the unexpected. It has given her confidence when she felt low, and provided money when she needed to support her kids. It has also given her a way to meet and encourage other women who might be experiencing some of the same trials she has been through.

Lori's wish for other women--whether single or married, with children or without--is to explore their career options now, and make sure they are pursuing work they love. Even stay-at-home moms, she encouraged, should be thinking about ways that they might provide for their families in the event that the unforeseen happens. Her business, coupled with her faith, was her saving grace, and she wants to make sure we all have some grace "stocked up" for the future, too.

I want to thank Lori for sharing about her journey, and for inspiring me with her fortitude. If you would like to contact her personally about her story, and maybe to share your own, you can email her at

And don't forget to check back in next Monday when we finish Lori's story, and hear her praises of a home-party business model!
Also, check out these previous Marketplace Mavens below:

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