Every MilSpouse has the potential to turn their ideas into a successful business. Some manage to convert that dream into reality and build empires which you hear of often as they grow and thrive and share their stories.
Others find successes in smaller scale ventures and hobby-like opportunities closer to home. Regardless of the size and scale of success in business, every MilSpouse who has decided to go for it has an inspiring and always challenge-filled story to share.
We spoke with a few spouses, who may be unknown to many but are crushing their business goals and making the most of this military life. Take a look:
Location: Hampton, VA
Who: The Party” Entrepreneur: Lakesha Brown-Renfro of Mango Mango’ Mango Preserves as seen on ABC’s Shark Tank; Bistro (Mango Mangeaux), Boutique Hotel (A Simply Panache Place) and Nail Bar & Pedi Spa (Simply Panache) and author of Putting the P in Panache.
Lakesha decided that deployment does not have to be debilitating. She started building her business empire in 2011 during her Sailor’s deployment as a way to distract herself and her young daughter. She brought her southern creativity and love for parties together and launched with her business partners. Since then she has added several new ventures to the Simply Panache brand, all located within the same block in Hampton, VA.
You can also find her mango products in a number of specialty stores across the US & Canada.
Location: Leavenworth, KS
After years of making and selling candles from home, Stacy honored her dream and with her soldier’s encouragement invested in the historic downtown location of their last duty station.
Today, Candle Queen Candles and Gift Boutique is hailed as a destination shopping mecca carrying everything a queen would love for herself and home.
Her “Candle Kitchen” is significantly situated over a large section of the Leavenworth Underground Railroad and is one of the city’s most photographed locations. What’s next for the Candle Queen? The grand opening of Queenie’s Loft, an Airbnb rental in the space above the boutique.
Location: San Diego, CA
Who: The Luxury Space Designer & Coach: Nikki Klugh, CEO of Nikki Klugh Design Group.
Helping other people fall madly in love with the space they occupy is Nikki’s gift. Following her dream of becoming an interior designer as a military spouse meant putting off opening her own firm until she and her Naval Officer were stationed in one place long enough to build up enough business.
But frequent moves did not stop her from learning, marketing and growing in her profession as she waited for that long-term duty station. As a matter of fact, it is what fueled her passion for creating spaces that support and improve client’s overall wellbeing. Nikki is laced with designer accolades and a celebrity clientele all across America.
Location: OCONUS: Kadena, Japan
Who: Head of the Family Hustle: Britney Montgomery of Golden Kernels Kettle Corn.
Sometimes a business decision is made purely with your children’s adjustment in mind. Moving to an overseas duty station with kids is unlike any other experience. There’s the challenge of keeping them occupied and integrating them into a new environment. An opportunity presented itself when another spouse listed her kettle corn business for sale.
Brittany bought the business and in just four months, has kicked it into high gear. Golden Kernels provide kettle corn for the Kadena USO Movie on The Lawn event each month. Britney has since launched POP’N Paint Parties, much like wine n design except with popcorn, (more fun for the entire family) and set up an e-commerce store to ship to anywhere in the world.
Britney is upping the ante while addressing the major challenges of military spouses operating businesses overseas: limited resources, excessive paperwork to be compliant with SOFA regulations and the never-ending search for reliable suppliers, many of whom do not have uniformed systems in place to support creative employment solutions.
Location: Honolulu, HI
Who: The Flawless Destination Wedding Planner, Chavah Grant of Vida Chic Wedding & Events.
Chavah is known for being the perfect wedding planner, with perfect enthusiasm and love for wedding planning, in the most perfect location on earth. But it wasn’t always that way. Thanks to the military lifestyle of frequent moves, Chavah has evolved and grown as a business owner, learning how to start and restart from 10 steps behind in a new location to become one of the most sought after wedding planners in Hawaii.
Chavah has extended her love for all things weddings into creating a wedding planning course so that others can have the opportunity to grow their businesses despite the challenges of the military lifestyle.
Tiffany Eve Lawrence
Location: San Diego, CA
Who: “The Claws & No Apologies Mama”: Tiffany Eve Lawrence, Speaker, trainer, and product creator of Covered Cubs.
Tiffany’s entrepreneur venture was born out of a fierce need to protect her twin girls. Living overseas at the time, Tiffany grew irritated by the unwanted contact with her babies from complete strangers. She was concerned for their health, and she noticed other parents who felt the same deferred to the ‘cultural differences’ and wanting “to be nice” as an excuse for not asserting boundaries.
She quickly became known as the Lioness Mama on a mission to equip parents to confidently, assertively and without compromise protect their children in all situations. Covered Cubs products are now in hospital gift shops across Southern California.
Tiffany frequently appears on television, at workshops and parenting conferences to deliver Covered Cubs messaging. Look out for her featured writings in a new Coffee Table Book about Amazing Moms coming in August 2017.
Christina Innamorato Carter
Location: Leavenworth, KS
After a missed opportunity to compete on Master Chef due to receiving orders overseas, Christina also had to reinvent herself after leaving the workforce and having a baby.
Armed with a love for cooking, culinary skills and no desire to start over from scratch in a traditional 9 to 5 job, she launched the Set Table in Okinawa, Japan and has since expanded her brand and opened a friendly sit-down café and booming catering business.
Location: Lacey, WA
Who: The Décor & Style Creative: Serena West, owner of WestHouse and 2017 Armed Forces Insurance JBLM Spouse of the Year.
What started as a part-time hustle to earn extra income while Serena stayed home with the kids, eventually grew into a full-time work from home business. Six duty stations, random jobs instead of the career she dreamed of pursuing and the needs of a growing active military family called for major flexibility on Serena’s part.
It wasn’t until she decided to make her own home into the perfect home with her wooden sign making skills that the possibility of selling her designs became all too real. Increased demand and thinking outside of her career path created what is now a carefully curated and local hand-crafted small business which has expanded to include special gift box collections.
Location: Raeford, NC
Who: Hobbyist turned Wholesaler, D’Shawn Russell, Owner, Southern Elegance Soy Candles
D’Shawn wanted to do something that brought her joy and allowed her to give back to the community. When the side-hustle hobby that she enjoyed started growing, it was an easy decision to quit her job and focus on scaling the business.
That part, however, is never easy, especially as a military family as there was never a good time to open up a micro-manufacturing business. It took years of focused dedication to grow Southern Elegance from its humble beginnings at local farmers markets into over 40 retail stores and the exclusive partnerships with other local businesses.
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