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Building a Thriving Business After Personal Tragedy

FROM TRAGEDY
Rick and Melissa were married in 2007 and were excited to start a family. In 2010, Melissa was five months pregnant with their little girl, Hallie, when she went into labor.  Doctors performed emergency surgery to prevent Melissa from delivering.  Afterwards, doctors ordered Melissa on strict horizontal bedrest until the baby was born.  “I knew it would be a hard road, but I was willing to do anything for her survival,” says Melissa.  They kept their faith on the forefront of the situation.  “It wasn’t convenient,” says Rick.  “But we decided to bring joy into the situation.”  They were so joyful in fact, that one of Hallie’s nurses asked them how they could be so happy.  When they shared the good news about Jesus with her, she gave her heart to the Lord!  Unfortunately, two weeks later, Hallie was born but passed away a few minutes after her birth.  “When we got the news that Melissa would have to deliver Hallie and she would not survive, that was devastating,” says Rick.  “We prayed hard and it didn’t turn out the way we had hoped.  The choice we had to make was, are we going to be mad and question God or were we going to completely trust Him?”  Rick and Melissa decided to trust God.  “I know God is good and we trusted Him,” he says. “That’s when God started to do powerful things.”

TO TRIUMPH
Rick had been an entreprenuer his whole life (and he always wanted a business he could pitch on Shark Tank). Melissa had always been a do-it-yourselfer.  When she was little, Melissa’s mom taught her how to make baby doll clothes and sew her own dance costumes.  While she was on bedrest in the hospital, Melissa took up sewing and knitting to pass the time.  While she was in the hospital, there were other women who were also on bedrest and Melissa knit and crocheted things for them.  “It made the days go by,” she says and started a baby blanket for Hallie.  After she passed away, Melissa decided to finish the blanket for her daughter.  “The Lord healed me through that,” she says.  “Even though my body couldn’t finish carrying her, my hands finished the blanket I started,” says Melissa.

One day, Melissa wore socks with lace insert at the top with her boots which took her 7 hours to make! When friends started asking for her to make them a pair, Melissa decided to put them up on Facebook for feedback.  “Everyone wanted one,” she says.  Then Rick suggested she sell them online.  She started making baby clothes and blankets and selling them online. In a matter of days, they had 400 orders.  

Three months into their company, they got an offer from a company in Dallas to buy 80% of their company.  Rick thought, We don’t know what we have our hands on yet. They decided not to sell interest in their company.  In February 2012 and after hearing nothing, applied again in March, April and May.  Rick thought, “Maybe it’s not from God. Maybe I didn’t hear from Him” and decided to let it go.  The next day, Rick asked a friend to partner with them and the friend responded: “You need to go on Shark Tank.”  Rick had never told this friend how much he wanted to be on the show and unbeknownst to Rick, this friend had contact with one of the show’s producers.   Fifteen minutes later, Rick was talking to the producer who loved their idea.  Because Melissa was pregnant with their son, they decided to push taping until the next season.
    
Before their segment aired in 2013, Grace and Lace was taking 150-200 orders per day. When they got the news they would be filming, Rick prayed.  “Lord, you need to give us guidance and tell us who to partner with.”  Rick felt like the Lord told him Barbara.  “We knew going in that Barbara would have to be part of the deal,” he says.  After their pitch, Barbara Corcoran invested $175,000 for a 10% stake in their company.  After the episode aired, their sales skyrocketed to over $1 million five days later, a Shark Tank record.  Last year they did over $7 million and their goal is to hit $10 million this year.

ETERNAL IMPACT
Both Rick and Melissa grew up in Christian homes.  Rick gave his heart to the Lord in fourth grade.  His parents divorced a few years later which impacted Rick and his walk with Jesus.  Then in 1996 when he was 23, Rick said a simple prayer, “I know You exist and I know You have a plan for my life.  Bring men into my life to show me how to be a real man.” God radically changed Rick’s heart.  “I knew that I knew that not only is God real, but He gave me a new heart.” Melissa spent summers on missions trips and always had a heart for the poor.  When she was 18, Melissa went to India.  “I never saw poverty like I saw in India,” she says. She wrote a note in her journal, “God I need to do something more.

Rick and Melissa had always been givers.  When a friend of theirs started Angel House, an organization that takes funds and builds orphanages, Melissa knew they needed to give to her friend’s vision.  “I wanted to have a business that had an eternal impact,” she says.  “We were supposed to link our business to this.” They joined forces and have built seven orphanages in India, a "freedom home" in Nepal to save girls from sex trafficking, and a 10 acre camp in Nepal to save more girls from the horrific trafficking industry.  They are directors of another campus in India that houses 348 male orphans. “Though heart-wrenching and devastating, I truly believe that out of this great tragedy has come our greatest victory,” says Melissa.

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Guest Info

Credits

Founders, Grace & Lace Company, a women’s online apparel company since 2011 with sales in excess of $7 million

Winner, ABC’s Shark Tank, Season 5

4 children

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