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The 700 Club

From Deep in Debt to Debt-Free

Cheryl Wilcox - 700 Club Producer
Zsa Zsa Palagyi - 700 Club Producer

Meet Melissa Hinnant, the creator of Grace and Lace, a successful on-line clothing company that made history on Shark Tank. 

“We did a million dollars overnight in sales,” Melissa shares, “and no company in the history of the five years that Shark Tank had aired before we were on had ever done that volume in sales.”

Melissa and her husband Rick have come a long way from when they met. Melissa was in real estate. Rick had been living on credit cards, trying to start a number of businesses and was $80,000 in debt.

“When he told me, I was shocked.” Melissa recalls. “My parents always taught me if you don't have money to pay for it, you don't buy it.” 

Rick admits, “I ended up knocking on people's doors to ask them could I mow their lawn, could I pick their weeds? Pretty humbling.”

Before long, Rick’s landscaping business took off, and the newly married couple started working their way out of the red. “I was doing everything possible to annihilate that debt and as quick as I could,” Rick says.

All the while, the Hinnants were tithing. Rick explains, “God says, ‘Test me’ and I love the challenge, and so if God says, ‘Test me’, I'm going to sign up.” 

Melissa adds, “Even during our hardest financial times, we still always gave because I know if God is going to bless us, we have to be faithful to continue to give.” 

Within two years, Rick had tripled his income by adding Christmas light installation. He paid off the rest of his loan, and soon the couple was completely debt-free, with a 6-figure income. Yet Rick didn’t think that was enough. 

Rick confesses, “I think I had bought into society saying, ‘Here's what you should have. Here's what will make you happy.’”

Melissa says, “He saw where all of his friends were at. And I think it kinda was a little bit of a pride issue.” 

Melissa was convinced that money was mainly a tool to help the needy. “If money can make me have more of a difference, then that's great, but I didn't need it,” she explains.

Rick admits, “There was this civil war inside. Yes, I wanted to give more money, but did I want to make more money so I could have more material things? I simply asked God, ‘Do I have money before you?’ And what I heard was, ‘Yes, you do.’ I asked God to forgive me instantly. I told God, ‘Whether I make a lot of money or not, I'm done striving.’ Instead of ‘What can I acquire? It became about 'How can I help the kingdom?’ When I surrendered to God, my landscape company exploded.”

Rick made $85,000 in one month hanging lights. Then Melissa’s knitting hobby turned into a major source of income for the couple.

“One day I just had an idea that I wanted to knit and create a pair of socks that had lace on them,” she says. “Everywhere I went people would stop and ask me, ‘Your socks, they're so cute. Where did you get them?’" So, Melissa started selling her lacey boot-socks online and soon the couple landed on SharkTank.

“We ended up with a $3 million year,” Rick exclaims. “It was like God saying, ‘Look, I can do things that will blow your mind, like that,’” he snaps, “and now, we've got goals of doing around 15 million this year.  But I don't know that we would have seen the success that we have if we weren't giving, if we weren't tithing.”

Today, Rick and Melissa have three children and choose to live way below their means so they can help the poor. They’ve already built 13 orphanages and a Freedom House in India.  

“I'll never forget meeting a 14-year-old, and he looked at me in the face and said, ‘Melissa, this is the first time I've ever slept on a mattress,’ Melissa shares with tears in her eyes.

They like to give to other organizations, too, including CBN.

Melissa says, “What I loved about Operation Blessing is that we were really able to see the fruit of that gift.”

Rick adds, “Now I have the hunger to make more money so we truly can give to all of these places because there's a lot of need out there.”

For those who want true financial freedom, the Hinnants suggest living to give, not get. 

I would challenge anyone out there to put God first,” Rick proclaims, “where you are giving, you are blessing, you are helping, and you are changing the world for the good.”

Melissa concludes, “God isn't looking for people who are like, ‘Give me, give me, give me!’ Everyone has to start somewhere, and it doesn't have to be big. It comes from the simple place of, ‘God, I want your will done in my life.’ You might be going through a hard financial time, but God still wants your purity of heart in giving.”

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