The holidays are “that time of the year” when holiday parties can bring out a few unexpected conversations after one too many. Loose lips sink ships. I never drink too much or have the desire to do so. There isn’t anything glamorous or funny about people who cannot handle their liquor. A glass of wine occasionally or one vodka martini on a bad day are my limit. I rarely drink even one drink on location but occasionally have based on the situation. Certain clients insist I share a celebratory cocktail or highball and I oblige.
Corporate Christmas parties always bring the chaos. Why? Free flowing alcohol. Whether I’m working the event or a guest at my husbands Christmas gathering for work, there’s always that one employee who “wants to know more” about the person sitting next to them. Or, there’s at least one person who should have stopped at two drinks. A combination of both always proves for an enlightening conversation.
I was recently at a corporate Christmas party where I was asked “what do I do?” The person seated next to me was talkative and entertaining but my answer sent her into a laughing fit.
This question about “what I do” comes up frequently. It’s changed from “where do you work?”
Describing what I do to people who either have an opinion regarding inmate marriage or are unaware that inmate marriage exists can get a few less than tactful responses from the person asking me.
My usual answer? “I own several businesses and work as a coordinator, Officiant and also barter event services as well as perform prison weddings in numerous states.” The last part is always surprising to the person asking if they don’t follow me on social media or read my blogs. My statement is either met with shocked silence or in this weeks scenario, a laugh from the person asking me an intrusive question such as “what do I do?” A better question would be “what don’t you do?”
Not caring what others think about what I do or who I do it with is the most liberating gift that I have ever given myself. Let’s get started with “how I got here.” Years ago, I was successful in high end sales, print and commercial modeling and promotions. Years ago, my life was spent on the set, the sales floor or traveling. Years ago, I was always working and spending little time with my family. Years ago, I was working for the man to pay my bills. Years ago, someone laughing at my profession would bother me. It doesn’t anymore.
I don’t care what others think about my job or my clients. I have the time to spend with my family that my jobs took from me for all of those years. I work for myself. I set my own schedule. I’m highly sought after in the events industry and I regularly turn down gigs with “traditional clients.” Why? Because I don’t HAVE to work. I haven’t HAD TO WORK in many years.
I’m often “recognized” as is my twin sister. “I saw you on TV.” Or, “I saw you in an ad for Cadillac.” Or, “weren’t you in those commercials for Whataburger with Mel Tillis?” The answer is yes, I’ve been in the film industry since I was a teen.
I’ve been a promotional model for thirty years and I’ve filmed five commercials with Mel Tillis. For the record, my favorite burger isn’t from Whataburger. It’s from Kincaids. I’m nothing if not blatantly honest.
How did I get from Whataburger commercials to high end sales and promotional modeling? Good question. I began modeling in my 20’s to obtain an upscale wardrobe I couldn’t afford to buy. I then used my wardrobe to become a high end sales person. You’ve got to “look the part” and, I did. During the week back then, I worked a wide variety of weird jobs but on weekends I was a model for numerous brands. I preferred to get clothing rather than a paycheck.
Modeling for clothes? It was a barter and a great deal for me. I have closets full of designer clothing and none of it was bought. In fact, my son modeled with me for Stripling & Cox a number of years and was the best dresssed kid in Fort Worth. Those mommy and me style shows kept my son in school clothes year after year. Those years on the catwalk at country clubs provided me an amazing wardrobe of clothing, furs and jewelry. The experience also taught me that I could sell anything. “How did Cadillac come into the picture?” Buckle up kids… during my second divorce my ex husband sold my car. I needed a vehicle, insurance and income. I became a Cadillac salesperson.
To generate clients I hired a photographer and paid for print ads targeting consumers who could afford Cadillacs at the very same country clubs I had walked the catwalk at. True story.
Experience is a great teacher. I knew where the money was and where to market. The county club had the clients who could afford Cadillac products.
Moving into an industry I had no experience at? Why not? Selling myself as a high end salesperson was easy. I knew that luxury car dealerships provided demos. I needed a car, health insurance and income. I decided to pitch myself at a local dealership.
After all, I had sold furs, jewelry, designer clothing and even solar panels. How hard could it be to flip luxury cars? I’ve never sold anything I wouldn’t buy and I would have bought a Cadillac if I could have afforded one so I was all set to start selling.
I decorated my office off the showroom floor and studied my manuals. I passed my GM certification courses. I also spent time wondering how to generate new clients.
Finding a client base took creativity but I did. Cadillac gave me everything I needed. I had a free demo, gas, health insurance and an income. I decided to run ads featuring myself with a different car every month at country clubs. I was investing in myself. It takes money to make money. I needed the “right clients” and found them. What I did had never been done before by a salesperson in the car industry. I was a pioneer.
My ex was shocked at how I went from nothing to something. My ex was also one of the many country club members viewing my ads month after month. Smiling back at him from those glossy brochures making more money than I ever imagined? Absolutely.
That smile was real folks. I wasn’t a hangar anymore hawking or flipping for clothes. My game literally stepped up for those Cadillac ads. Coordinating evening gowns? You bet from my years as a model. I have closets of options.
In the ad below I decided to wear a chocolate gown rather than match the car. Who didn’t want an XLR? What a great car the XLR was! I loved them. I could sell anything I believed in and did.Poverty is a great teacher. If you don’t learn you will never earn. Successful people don’t start out successful unless they are lucky. I have never been lucky but I have always been resilient. Trial and error are essential to success.
I’m a survivor. I also think outside the box. Other salesmen laughed at my ads. I laughed all the way to the bank.
I left Cadillac on top. I retired from car sales. I left laughing and moved on to my next adventure. Years of car sales, classy demos and fantastic paychecks was a wild ride but I was ready to move on. Everyone knows I’m an identical twin. This isn’t a news flash. My twin sister has been raising her twin granddaughters since birth. We are two sets of twins.
While working for Cadillac, I even put my twin and twin grandnieces in one of my Cadillac ads for Escalades. “Got a big family? Get an Escalade!”
I sold the $hit out of Escalades with that two sets of twins ad posted in the Ridglea and Colonial Country Club monthly brochures. The twins are now fifteen years old.
My twin is my partner at Texas Twins Events, Texas Twins Treasures, The Pawning Planners and TDCJ Officiant.When I decided to start Texas Twins Events, Cindy and the Twins joined me on location at events and clients hired the twin as flower girls, ring bearers and ushers. This was a surprise. Taking our kids to work became a family affair.
For tips or flips, the twins loved being in weddings. They now book as princess characters for birthday parties. Within a week of going LIVE with Texas Twins Events, production companies started contacting me. This was shocking because my goal wasn’t to get famous. We filmed a Pilot for The Pawning Planners in 2015. It went with the smallest minority of our actual bookings though and our focus was helping others not filming. We don’t have any interest of fabricating our embellishing our journey or our clients.
My goal was to find a way to spend time with my family while making Events affordable to our clients. Any client. Any event. Any location.
We welcomed diversity. Narrow minded people had opinions. Those “opinions” were THEIR luggage and THEIR trip. “What percentage of your clients are LBGT?” This idiotic question along with others used to bother me. Why? Because the person asking wasn’t supportive of my client base.
I was the first openly LBGT friendly vendor. While everyone else was hiding their affiliation with LBGT clients fearful of backlash, I was openly LBGT friendly. All of my businesses are LBGT friendly.My first prison client all of those years ago came to me because I welcomed diversity. She had seen me on a news interview regarding support of the LBGT community. She knew I was open minded and she was right. My first Prison wedding was to help a person no one else wanted to help.
The CW33 interview was aired on numerous stations. Cindy and were in Dallas when I was hijacked by a reporter for that interview. Two sets of twins caught his attention. The fact that we weren’t LBGT was why he stuck a microphone in my face and said “roll it.”
Even members of my family voiced their disdain for our client bases over the years and effectively cut themselves from my life. I didn’t care about opinions.
Those family members didn’t lift a finger when Cindy and I were homeless at 15. We had no one but each other to lean on and did. Those “family members” never once helped my sister or I. We had each other and a new family. Our clients became that family.
Prison weddings evolved from a creative request for services. I perform up to 20 prison weddings per month.
I prefer prison weddings. There aren’t any divas or drama. There is love. There is resilience. There are happy endings. There is life after lock up. My clients are amazing!
“Why did you and Cindy go to the expense to create your own inventory of photo props? Why do you do photo shoots with clients?” Prison photos aren’t always great and guests in Texas aren’t allowed.
Photo shoots bring the fun, the flowers, the tiaras, the family and magical moments. I’ve spent thousands on my inventory but it’s worth every penny to clients because my SUVs are treasure troves of fun stuff.
I became the person I wanted to meet. I became the mother I never had. My twin sister and I continue to change the wedding and events industry one family or barter at a time from Fort Worth, Texas. We love our clients and our role to make their Dream Event a reality. Many of you recently saw us on the Mel Robbins show regarding “over sharing.” We are driven and passionate. What was cut from that interview and effectively missed was my explanation of why I was excited a new baby was coming though Cindy already had a full house and was raising her twin granddaughters when a call from her oldest daughter planning to come home pregnant on a one way ticket came in.
Cindy was excited to have another baby coming and posted the update on FB. Cindy offering to take her daughter in with a baby on the way gives you far more insight on how we had decided that with “two of us we could handle anything.” We do everything together including raising our children and grandchildren.
Little Maddy rode with us to Units and jumped into client photos for three years and nearly four before her father returned to the states. Leigh Ann, Maddy and Alex are now reunited in California. We miss Maddy and FaceTime daily. We are flying to see them in a few weeks while working destination weddings in California.
Our little Maddy is a ray of sunshine. Leigh Ann is homesick and excited about our twin trip to visit. We are honest and open. We don’t care what others think. Their opinions or negativity don’t enrich our lives. They have “limits” to what they think is controversial or acceptable.
I was told a few years ago by a production company “what you do is just too controversial.” Really? They contacted me. I’m not going to change who I am or what I do to fit it someone’s mold of what they think I should be or do. My clients are more important than the opinions of strangers.
What Cindy and I have is each other and a desire to change the way people perceive our clients and their relationships. What we have accomplished is giving our clients the event they wanted with the kindness, compassion and attention that they deserved…