It all started with a pair of shoes.
Newly divorced, Renee Winot decided she wasn’t going to put her kids through any more grief. With her divorce money, she bought a user friendly computer and a digital camera and began a business that allows her to make ends meet while being available for her children.
“I put these shoes on ebay and they sold. And I had a couple (pairs) of them and I sold them.” But, Renee didn’t stop there. “I had just been looking around and I’d found these big lots of jewelry and I had this money in my account from these shoes and I turned around and used it and bought these lots of jewelry.” In fast motion, Renee found herself an ebay entrepreneur with her own account and an ebay store.
The days of securing a job just because you have experience and a good track record are gone. Too many lookers, too few jobs. But opportunities are available, even in hard times. Sometimes you just have to think out of the shoe box.
Those close to Renee wouldn’t think this overnight entrepreneurialism such a strange thing. Her independent spirit winds through her work history. “Well I’ve never been a conventional person as far as jobs go. I don’t think that I ever had a job that I would really consider typical.” Renee worked for an insurance company soliciting business. She liked it because she got to set her own hours. “I was getting paid for what I sold.’” But her favorite job was selling cars. “I was actually pretty good at it. I got to make the money I was worth because I worked on commission.” Selling cars was also how she met her ex-husband.
Loss of a husband can be a scary thing for women, especially those who have stayed out of the job market to raise a family. All of a sudden you’re back in the hunt, competing against people half your age with more recent experience.
Instead of giving in, Renee said a prayer which for her resulted in clarity and direction. “And so I just kept saying ‘ok God, you’re just going to have to show me what to do. And you’re going to have to make it really clear because I’m a hard case God. I’m one of those kind of people you have to throw a brick at. So God slammed all the other doors shut and opened the door wide that (He wanted) me to go through.’”
Renee says her safety net was and is her faith. “I have a real trust in God because I am also a recovering alcoholic and addict and I’ve been sober– this Sunday, it will be for 15 years. And that is all by God’s grace because I never could have done that on my own. To me if God can take me out of that, then God can do anything.”
Renee also thinks it important for single women to look ahead and not live in yesterday. “Yesterday? So what. Tomorrow isn’t even here yet. All I know is I’m sitting here right now talking to you and that’s it. I’m missing out on all that if I’m worried about all those other things.”
Even if Renee were prone to worrying, she wouldn’t have time for it with tracking down merchandise and shipping items for her ebay store. Her kids have even gotten into the act. “The girls go in there and cut the labels out and Luke runs everything into Cardsmart. He’s figured out the customs forms. He knows what they are and goes in and pays the lady at the desk and they know him.”
Renee not only goes to work in her pajamas, but she’s teaching her kids at the same time. “And so here my children have been home with me and they’re helping and they’re learning that they can do this too. They just think they’re being a part of the family. They’re so excited about my job. And it all came from a simple prayer and a belief that God was not going to drop us on our butt.”
Renee’s advice to women who suddenly find themselves single is to make time for your self. “And that’s what lifeguards are taught too. If you go in to save a drowning person and the person tries to drag you under, you’re not going to be good for that person. So you’re supposed to step out and wait until they’re totally under. So you’ve go to make sure you take care of yourself or you can’t take care of anybody else.”
And so Renee takes care of herself and her children by thinking differently and keeping a hopeful attitude. “If I look at something long enough I can find something bad about everything . You can find the perfect flower and if you look long enough you will find something bad about it. And if you look long enough you can find something positive in everything single thing. So which way do you choose to look at it? I have a choice when I wake up in the morning. Do I want to look at life as good or do I want to look at it bad?”