As one of the few that has been a part of Initial Outfitters since day one, Amy shares her IO story. Read how IO was there for Amy’s journey step by step through a family move, new friendships and her heart for missions.
As a young mom with a 2-year-old and 4-year-old I remember walking into my parent’s den and handing my sister Alicia a check and telling her “I am going to help you get your business started”. I wasn’t sure what that was going to look like but I was going to give it my all. Four months before Initial Outfitters launched Scott and I moved our family from Auburn, Alabama to Virginia Beach. Ten and a half hours from home. For the first time, my dream of being a stay at home mom was coming true. As thrilled as I was with being a stay home mom, I was used to working at our family gift store, Heartstrings, and I wanted to have something to do where I could interact with others, add to our savings account and make a difference in others’ lives. One of my favorite things about working at Heartstrings was helping people pick out gifts they were excited to give, so when Alicia and Jim said they were going to launch a company that specialized in personalized jewelry and gifts I saw this as an extension of Heartstrings and home. And though I had NEVER thought about direct sales before and had only attended one home party I decided I was going to be their first consultant and build a team. Scott traveled during the week with his job so after I put the kids to bed I would pull out my address book and start calling my friends and sharing with them the opportunity to get in on the ground level of a company that was getting ready to launch.
Amy and her husband Scott.
When IO started in the fall of 2006, two ladies had taken a step of faith with me and signed on to be consultants. IO started in a tiny room with a handful of employees and a handful of consultants ready to see their dreams become reality. Just as they do today, the home office staff did an AMAZING job of supporting us. We have come a long way though. One of the ladies on my team created the first IO Facebook site to provide us a place to share ideas/pictures. We now have a Corporate Facebook page, Pinterest, Graphics Team… Trainers were hired, our roles as consultants transitioned from training our team members to supporting them and directing them to all the training available from the home office. I remember attending the first National Conference in Auburn, Alabama. We met in one of the classrooms, around 25 of us. From the beginning it didn’t matter whose team you were on, an atmosphere was being created where we were a family that shared ideas and supported one another as we sought God’s guidance for our businesses. That has not changed. When someone posts on Facebook that a new team member has joined, “Welcome to the IO Family” can been seen in the comment section. One day Alicia called me and said “We have decided to partner with a ministry called Charlie’s Lunch. They have lunchrooms that feed hungry children a hot meal every other day and teach the children about the love of God and the wonderful plan He has for their lives. What do you think?” My response was, “how many lunchboxes would my team have to sell to sponsor a lunchroom?” She let me know and my team started promoting Charlie’s Lunchboxes and within months we had sold enough lunchboxes to sponsor a lunchroom in Mexico. From the beginning my customers fell in love with the idea that they could make a difference in a child’s life by rounding up their order total, sponsoring a meal for 50 cents, and ordering a lunchbox where all the profit would go towards feeding a child for almost a month. God was opening a door in my life and giving me a chance to make a difference in the lives of children I had never met.
Amy and other IO consultants at Ignite, our winter training.
When I first started selling IO we didn’t “need” my paychecks so I would stick them in one of our kitchen cabinets. Then one day my husband asked me if I could deposit one of my checks, the house insurance was due, later the car insurance. It was a wonderful feeling knowing that I was once again contributing to our family’s income. My checks started paying for trips to Disney, snow skiing, soccer, den furniture, my van…
From the beginning my prayer was “God this business is Yours. Show me who will be my next hostess, use me in their lives.” Little did I know how He was going to answer those prayers. I found myself being a listening ear to hostesses that after welcoming me into their homes to introduce their friends to IO trusted me with their hearts. My son’s 1st grade teacher MB would host “parties” in her classroom twice a year. One summer before school one of the male teacher’s wives passed away. That fall, MB used her hostess’s rewards to purchase Christmas gifts for his daughters. That same year my daughter’s teacher LD was diagnosed with cancer and God continued to open doors. Hostess rewards were used to purchase Christmas gifts for LD’s family, I was able to donate my commission from several parties to help pay medical bills. God was showing me how I could use my business to help others. The biggest blessing through all of this was being given the opportunity to discuss a relationship with Christ with LD.
Then IO started Lunchbox Love…where consultants invite people to sponsor a lunchbox for $20 that will be donated to a child thru a local charity filled with goodies and ALL of the profit from the purchase of this lunchbox will go towards feeding a child in one of our Charlie’s Lunchrooms for almost a month.
Amy was able to donate 85 lunchboxes to a baby shower held for young expecting mothers at the Crisis Pregnancy Center.
I partnered with my local church several times and we filled the lunchboxes with baby supplies, giving them to young expectant moms at a baby shower our church hosted for Crisis Pregnancy Center. Our middle school girls in the youth group held a bake sale, and catered Sunday School breakfasts for 3 weeks, raising money to purchase Charlie’s Lunchboxes to be filled with lunch and given to children in local neighborhood during a mini vacation bible school. Lunchboxes were delivered to children on the oncology floors at a local children’s hospital on Valentine’s Day. My current Lunchbox Love is for Big House, an organization in Opelika, Alabama, that supports foster families and making sure each child has a backpack filled with school supplies.
When you start a home party business 10 1/2 hours from home, in a new town where you only know 2 ladies initially, you have to find ways to meet people if you want to have a successful business. Some of my dearest friends I met as a result of my Initial Outfitters business. Friends that make me a better person. Friends that love me for who I am and encourage me to be all God wants me to be.
Amy moved to Virginia Beach not knowing many people. Through IO parties, she met some of her closest friends.
My husband and I have always enjoyed celebrating our anniversaries by going somewhere together. As we started a family the trips got shorter and closer to home. Scott has said for years “one day I want to go to Italy.” The summer of 2016 my husband and I celebrated our 20th anniversary on an 11-day tour of Italy, Paris, London and Switzerland. Those pay checks I used to stick in the cabinet, I still save them for specials occasions like new air conditioners and treating my husband to his dream vacation.
Amy and Scott on his dream vacation to Italy.
Little did I know almost 11 years ago when I handed my sister Alicia a check and said “I’m going to help you get your business started” how God would take my heart filled with a desire to help others and wow me with what He would do through my business. It is a joy to be home with my kids and be able to work my business around my family’s schedule. I love being able to connect with amazing women around the country that are consultants. I love that my kids see the benefits of hard work and perseverance. I love giving others the opportunity to make a difference in someone’s life.
I love being able to make a living that makes a difference.