Our Journey from Tragedy to Triumph

Our Journey from Tragedy to Triumph
May 02 09:57 2016 Print This Article

Rick & Melissa Hinnant are entrepreneurs who are filled with an unquenchable passion for success, and they’re the founders of Grace & Lace. Harnessing the despair and emotion of losing a child, they’ve built a company that started out making lacy leg warmers, which has now become a full-blown women’s apparel company. Read an inspiring conversation with the founders themselves, and never let tragedy stop you from fulfilling your dreams!


Melissa: Just a few years ago we were the recipients the most devastating news parents can ever receive. When I was just five months pregnant, my doctor told my husband Rick and I that I’d give birth to a little girl who would not survive. What followed was nothing less than a roller-coaster ride of emotions. About an hour after they lost their precious baby girl Rick called his wife over and said “Melissa- We’ve got a choice to make, we can either wallow in our grief and remain bitter for the rest of our lives or harness our heart break and put it to use to help others”. I’m proud to say we chose the latter and together we’ve built a company with loyal customers who keep coming back for more! We tell people often, “Never waste your pain! Use it for good to help others.”

Our Humble Beginnings
Rick: When we started out, Melissa, who always had a love for sewing, decided to crochet her first pair of lacy leg warmers. Everywhere she went, people would stop and ask where she got them. Noticing the interest people had, Melissa put a pair online to see what would happen. Within 48 hours we had over 400 requests! We had no clue what the future held but I thought we might just be on to something.
Melissa: We literally set up shop in our bedroom! It then spread to our garage and then quickly spread to our neighbor’s garage. We were so overwhelmed with the amount of requests we were getting and we both laughed b/c after I made the 1st pair I told Rick – “I’ll never make another one of these!” Like many entrepreneurs we had no previous experience in design or fashion but we both had a “we’re going to figure this out” attitude. If we did in fact have something on our hands we knew we could build Grace & Lace from a home based hobby to a real business.
Rick: So many times I’ve seen entrepreneurs fail because they are not prepared for success. When we saw that we had our hands full, we knew that in order to help ourselves, we needed to reach out and find some expertise in the industry and we found that through our personal connections. Most people have a wealth of knowledge within their personal relationships IF they will just reach out. When we partnered with Barbara from Shark Tank it was like adding gasoline to the fire and we went in one day from 6 employees to 36 employees, and from 150 orders a day to 2500 orders a day!
Melissa: During those moments where I was completely overwhelmed, I never could have imagined that we’d go from selling a few hundred pairs, to selling hundreds of thousands of pairs. Choosing the right people to help and the right partners for your business is crucial to success. The success we’ve had is beyond anything we could have imagined, and it’s all because we had great guidance and certainly a ton of amazing help from Barbara and her team.

Rick: There are many businesses that achieve success, but many times they plateau. The companies that continue to succeed are the ones who continue to innovate. It’s our challenge to constantly update our designs, ideas and inventory. What’s unique about Grace & Lace is that we’re not just about selling a product, we’re telling a story. With every stitch we sew we’re turning our grief into our mission of helping others. Just as the heart break of losing a child never goes away, our energy to move on constantly renews. In a certain sense, people are attracted to our products because they feel like they’re part of an amazing story. The natural human condition is to hear a story, to become part of something bigger than yourselves, and Grace & Lace hopefully gives people that satisfaction. I think having a story to tell is one of the most effective marketing strategies a company can have. Instead of focusing on pushing your product, surround your company with a mission and give your customers a story to become a part of.

Never stop learning

Melissa: There are so many people that we put our trust in on a daily basis in order for us to succeed. I think many entrepreneurs fail because they’re too scared to trust other people. It’s impossible to grow a really big business without delegation. The truth is that without the phenomenal team we have, we’d never be where we are today. I think it’s so important for entrepreneurs to learn to find great people they can trust. Trust certainly involves risk but if you cannot develop a way to trust you’ll never grow beyond a certain point.
Rick: Mirroring Melissa’s words, especially today, if you’re not growing you’re dying. With the pace and availability of social media today, your competition is waiting in your own backyard. The only way to continue growing is to continue learning. No entrepreneur has it all figured out and that’s ok, but you must always stay humble and look with wisdom to anyone who can help you do what you do better. If there is someone who has been successful in business I want to learn from them so I can be more successful. If there’s someone who’s an expert in relationships I want to learn from them so I can be an even better husband to Melissa and a better father to my kids. Whatever you do in life or business, always make it your business to find people who can help you do what you do even better!


 

Full GL PhotoRick and Melissa are the founders of Grace & Lace, and they appeared on appeared on season five of ABC’s hit show “Shark Tank.” After their episode aired, sales skyrocketed for Grace & Lace. They’ve been able to give back in an amazing way as well, when they built two orphanages in India in 2014 which they named Halle Houses, in honor of their baby girl that passed so unexpectedly. They funded and opened five more orphanages in 2015 along with a Freedom Home in Nepal that took 30 women out of the sex trade industry. “Never in a million years did I think that we would be making an impact through a pair of socks,” Melissa Hinnant said. “But we are literally changing the world one boot sock at a time.”

 

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