What do you do if you have two young children aged three and ten and suddenly, within nine months, your husband walks out, your house burns down and you find you need to have major surgery on your back? Well, if you are Kathy Thompson you ‘take the heartbreak, you rally and you come back.’ Easy to say… but could I do it? I don’t know.
‘The best way to get over your fear,’ says Kathy, ‘is to conquer it by doing what you fear!’ Her starting point was pretty much ground zero. Her ex-husband wasn’t going to offer enough support for them – ‘When they leave, they leave – and some don’t like to look back.’ But Kathy was determined to provide for her kids, whatever the circumstances.
The catalyst for change was the moment she found her neighbour screaming for help, her child locked in a van. Kathy came to the rescue and a friendship developed. It turned out the next-door neighbour sold cosmetics from her home. ‘You should be doing it!’ said her neighbour. Unbeknownst to either of them she was offering Kathy the key to unlock her life.
Kathy wanted to give Direct Sales a go. Life was very hard on her small office salary. But she didn’t start straight away – in fact, at first she hid the product she was meant to sell in the back of her closet and pretended it wasn’t there. ‘I was afraid to get out and sell it. I was scared of failure.’ She says with a laugh at her younger, less confident self, ‘I also didn’t think I had time to fit it in. After a while, I realised that only you can make it happen. I looked at my children, I saw what they needed and I knew what I had to do.’ At first she didn’t commit herself fully; she started working extra hours – on the weekends and in the evening, outside of her job.
‘Slowly I became empowered,’ she says, ‘and through that realisation and all that I have done afterwards, I have become not only a stronger person but a better person – and most importantly, a better mother.’
During our conversation she speaks with such assurance and self-belief, it’s hard to remember that this woman was once dependent upon anybody or anything.
Falling into the world of Party Plan and Direct Sales obviously worked for Kathy. She is now CEO of her own company, selling product into thousands of Walmart stores across America. And she has passed on her skills and enthusiasms to her daughter, Amy, who following in her Mum’s footsteps has made a strong name for herself in the world of Direct Sales.
Inspired by this mother and daughter and their passion, I invited my own mother to come with me to a Direct Sales party in England (sometimes known as Trunk Shows). My mother, not familiar with the idea of going to a strangers house, to enjoy a cup of tea or a glass of wine, whilst shopping around the kitchen table, carefully sorted through all her cast-offs, thinking we were to bring our things to sell. She was a little disappointed when I explained we were going in order to buy things, not to take our own jumble. “But there will still be cake and tea?” she asked.
It’s obvious that, for Kathy, she has grown in so many ways since she watched her house burn to the ground, whilst holding the small hands of her two frightened children.
“She’s the strongest woman I know,” says her daughter, “and she believes in paying it forward, whether she gets paid back or not.”