As our 2013 Tom Hemingway Excellence in Leadership award recipients, Executive Directors Julie and Tracy Colburn from Apex, North Carolina, have truly exhibited the qualities the award represents: demonstrated excellence in leadership, character, honesty, truthfulness and a desire to help and serve others. Jewelers since the spring of 1998, they have built their business faithfully and consistently by serving others and enriching lives. Julie and Tracy have truly blessed many in their Premier family and beyond, but they would quickly say they are the ones who have been greatly enriched by Premier Designs Family.
A Life, a Marriage and a Family forever Changed!
About 17 ½ years ago we were living in Brandon, Florida. We had moved several times throughout our married life, always going where Tracy, my husband, could make more money. You see, we were one of those families caught up in materialism and for a lack of a better term – we worshiped money. This move, however, proved to be the start of a downward spiral for our marriage and our emotional states.
We never received any of the big monetary promises that the company offered us to move to Florida and for the first time in a long time, we were really struggling financially. I was in total denial of just how bad things really were. I felt little stability and was on the verge of depression. Tracy’s way of coping became alcohol. We felt as if we had hit rock bottom. There was nowhere else for us to turn but UP to God.
We had started attending church and searching for some kind of hope when Premier came into our lives.
I was invited to a jewelry show by a friend. I loved jewelry but I didn’t have any extra money so I couldn’t attend. I did commit to do a show to help her out.
The Jewelry Lady, Penny Marshall, called me shortly after to get a date for my show. I gave several excuses before she asked if she could to call me again later. This scenario played out many times. Each time Penny called, she told me all the reasons to be a Hostess. I even remember her talking about going to National Rally. I finally put my show on the calendar in February of 1998.
Our life continued on a downward spiral
I wasn’t the best Hostess and didn’t put much effort into it. The night of my show, two guests showed up (and one left early). We had fun playing in the jewelry, while Penny shared about her Premier business as if the room was full. I didn’t listen very closely, but my friend did and said, “Julie, you should do this!” I quickly answered, “No. I am way too busy.”
At the time, I was a consultant with another direct sales company. The same week as my Jewelry Show, I had a show with the other company. After no less than 6 trips to my car in the pouring down rain just to carry in the product, I decided it was worth the time to hear the Premier marketing plan.
In March of 1998, we received our tax return which gave me the opportunity to join Premier. While I wasn’t ready to let go of all I was involved with and focus on my Premier business much, I attended every local training. Each time, I heard, “You will never know what you are a part of until you go to National Rally!”
Six months, only 10 shows and 1 sponsor later, Tracy lost his job. I can look back now and see it as a nudge from God to get our Premier business going. We knew this is what I needed to be doing; for time invested the money couldn’t be beat. So, I let go of everything else and actually focused on my jewelry business. I started filling my calendar and working to pay both our bills and our debt.
Rally was approaching. (Back then, National Rally was in January and in Nashville, Tennessee.) Even though we didn’t have the money, I knew we had to go!
By the time January came around, I had put away a little money by not paying the electric or phone bills. We had only one credit card that wasn’t maxed out (and only because it wasn’t accepted in Florida).
We headed to Nashville.
It was cold! We went to the registration desk picked up our packet and were so excited to be at our first National Rally! To save money, we decided to stay with my sister for the weekend. We never really saw her though because we were home late and out the door early – we didn’t want to miss a second of Rally.
We had a BLAST at Rally. We were part of something very unique and special. We crossed the stage several times because of the fabulous fall the Lord had blessed us with. We met a lot of neat people and were in awe of the entire experience. We were amazed at the amount of effort put in to make Rally just perfect. We heard from Andy and Joan Horner and even got to meet them! Priceless!
As we headed home, I started weeping. Tracy asked me, “What could be wrong after what we had just experienced?” I told him that I was so overwhelmed with joy, thanksgiving, love, and assurance. For the first time in my life, I knew I was a Somebody and that God had a purpose for my life, He had great plans for me, for us as a couple and even for our family! One weekend that changed my life, my marriage and my family!
I can say to you, “I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that had we not gone to that first National Rally, we would not have stayed in Premier!” You see, as I look back, I see how God knew we both would need the very things we took away from that weekend to sustain us for what would lie ahead, not only personally, but also, in our business. Only God knows where He wants to take you, your family and your business, but I can assure you that if you trust Him, He will show YOU!!!
Our Premier journey has had its ups and downs, its highs and lows. God has used it all to shape and mold us into the people He desires us to be. Tracy and I went from falling apart to a unified couple pursuing God. Wow! Only God can do that with a “GIFT” in a form of a jewelry business!!!
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