We’re excited to share another incredible story with you. Katie of Jacksonville, Alabama, tells about her family, friends and faith and how IO is intertwined in it all.
I spent the first 7 years of my professional career in radio and television, from morning show host to advertising executive to reporter and several fun points in between! When I found out my husband and I were expecting our first baby, I had NO plans to become a stay-at-home-mom. At the time, I was making almost twice what my husband was making as a high school math teacher and football/baseball coach. Staying at home made no sense, plus…I loved my job! However, when my little girl was born in 2009, I knew I could not go back to work. I did not have any peace about returning to my job. I prayed and prayed and wrestled with how we would make ends meet, but in the end, my husband and I stepped out on faith and I quit my job. We knew it was what God was calling me to, even if we didn’t understand why or see how it would work. My daughter was 6 weeks old at the time. Four months later, I found out I was expecting our second child. (insert big-eyed emoji here!) Over the next two years, I made cakes, cleaned houses, and did whatever I could do from home in order to make extra income. In the summer of 2011, I ran into a cell phone store to pay a bill. I was in the store less than 10 minutes, but in that short time I had a divine appointment. Jennifer walked in. Jennifer and I both went to Jacksonville State University. Our paths crossed periodically. I crowned her as Miss Jacksonville State University, we both graduated and pursued jobs in media, and we had babies around the same time, too. As I stood there, chatting with her, I thought I had heard that she was staying home with her son, and I just had to ask how she was doing it. She said, “I’m selling Initial Outfitters! It’s a home parties personalization company! It’s like a gift boutique on wheels!” (Yes, all of those exclamation points are intentional. She absolutely used that much enthusiasm.) My first reaction? I thought to myself, “I’ve got to get out of here before she asks me to do something like host a party or join her team.” (ha!) Little did I know that about 6 months later, December 2011, I would find myself staring at a car repair bill of about $900, which would totally deplete what we had in savings. I vividly remember going back to the same spot in my house where I had prayed so earnestly about whether or not to return to my full-time job. I prayed a different prayer that December day. I reminded the Lord that I had followed Him, and that He had promised blessings to those who were obedient to Him. I reminded Him that He had promised to provide for me and my family according to His riches in glory, not according to anything I could see or imagine. And then, He reminded me of something. He reminded me of that less-than-10-minute conversation in the cell phone store. I couldn’t get it off my mind for several days, so I called Jennifer. She told me everything I needed to know, and on January 4, 2012, I began writing my story with Initial Outfitters.
Katie and her family took IO’s most recent reward trip, a cruise to the Bahamas.
In my first 8 weeks or so with Initial Outfitters, I made enough money to pay back what I spent on my starter kit, and all $900 of those car repairs I mentioned! The impact was significant and meaningful, and although our financial situation has changed (thanks to IO and the Lord’s blessings on this business,) the impact it is making on me is still very much the same. The significance and meaning are often financial, but there is also much, much more. I have an outlet to use the gifts and abilities God has given me…most of which I didn’t even discover until I found IO. I have a way to give to others through IO Loves while I am benefiting my own family, too. I am meeting new friends every single time I go to work (a.k.a.–a PARTY!) I have built deep and meaningful friendships with women from all over the country–strong, intelligent, encouraging women whom I am so much better for knowing. And, something else. This mama, who once felt like nothing more than a spit-up-covered “has been,” somewhere along the way discovered a strong, persevering, goal-reaching, leader inside herself. One who finds incredible joy in sharing the blessing of this business and watching other women succeed. Because of this, I have become a better wife and mother. A better person. Period. The impact IO has had on my life is tremendous and I am so thankful.
From college to having kids, Jennifer and Katie’s friendship has grown through IO.
The relationships have been built, on the surface, through a love of all things beautiful and monogrammed, of course! But, below the surface, it’s so much more. I have built relationships with repeat customers and hostesses who have become friends as we talked about what their purchases (or, in the case of hostesses, free shopping sprees) would be used for and the fun they would have using them, or the meaning behind special items they would select. I love when hostesses text me a picture of their party box upon arrival with messages like, “This feels like Christmas!” There’s a deeper relationship with my team members that I cherish. Each of the women on my team have dreams, goals, visions for what they want their IO business to do for them. I cannot describe the sheer joy of watching these women set goals and crush them! Debt killed. Christmases and birthdays paid for. Car loans paid off early. Special trips taken. All because we worked together to make a plan, and these incredible ladies worked the plan like the Girl Bosses they are! Above all, the relationships that have meant the most are the ones that come with unwavering encouragement…and there are many! From the founders of this company to some of my very best friends on (and off) my team, the relationships here feel much more like family than a work environment. Who wouldn’t love that?!
Katie and other consultants took part in our Top Leader photo shoot this past January.
After five-and-a-half-years with this amazing company, it’s hard to narrow down just ONE of the most fun things! I’ve earned trips to Nashville, Tucson, Disney World for my entire family of 5 for SEVEN days, the Dominican Republic and a cruise to the Bahamas that I took with my mom and kids! I have also been treated to exclusive lunches with our founders, packed backpacks for kids in Blessings in a Backpack ministry, and enjoyed beauty makeovers and photo shoots! It was ALL FUN!
But one memory does stand out.
I already shared that our first two children came very close together (13.5 months, to be exact.) Shortly after our second child was born, my husband and I were walking around our neighborhood, just so I could get out of the house. I can still picture the sun setting in our little neighborhood as we pushed a double stroller around. My husband asked me the strangest question. He said, “Our 5th anniversary is coming up in a few months…where would you like to go?” HA. We had one income–two fairly new kids–and barely enough to pay bills and eat. My response was something like, “Cracker Barrel or Jacks.” He then made a statement that stayed with me for a long, long time. He said, “Katie, I know we can’t afford anything big, but IF you could go somewhere…where would you go?” It wasn’t a difficult decision for me. I told him I didn’t care…just anywhere that was all-inclusive, tropical, and didn’t require me to think about or do anything while I was there. He assured me that when I went back to work in advertising, we would be able to save for a trip like that, and on our 10th wedding anniversary, he was certain we could go some place all-inclusive. I didn’t mention it at the time, but his comment stung my heart a little. See, I knew God was not going to release me back into the full-time work force. I didn’t know why. I but I knew that wasn’t His plan. I just couldn’t see what His plan was. It was Fall 2010. Less than two years later, I joined IO. And do you know what? In the summer of 2015, the rewards trip was announced for the following year: an all-inclusive, all-expenses paid vacation to the Dominican Republic. Summer 2016. The year of our 10th wedding anniversary.
If there was one thing I would share with you, it would be this: God has an incredible plan for your life. It’s one that, if you will lean into it and seek His will instead of trying to come up with your own way and plan, He will give you the power you need to do what He has called you to. And, in the same way He had already answered, two years before I found IO, the desire of my heart to celebrate our 10th anniversary in a way I truly didn’t think possible, He is able to do exceedingly, abundantly more than you can ask or imagine, too.
Katie and her husband enjoying their reward trip to Punta Cana, Dominican Republic.