May 2017

How Making A Move Opens New Possibilities

It was an extremely cold January with snow was so deep you couldn’t walk or drive. Business was at a standstill. No cars were being sold on Roby’s used car lot. Customers were not booking hair appointments at Cathy’s Coiffures. We decided to take a vacation in a warmer climate. We flew to Los Angeles, California.

At first Roby was hesitant to make the trip. “Those folks are crazy,” he said, referring to recent earthquake reports, “that place is going under.” Still, I convinced him it would be ok because God is in charge.

When the plane landed at LAX the temperature was sixty-five degrees. Just fifteen minutes later, driving down Century Blvd. with sunshine and palm trees, my husband declared, “This is God’s country! This is where we should be!”

After a week, we were convinced to make the move. When we got home from the trip, sold both our businesses and all our other property. My beauty shop sold quickly and I stayed on as an employee of the new owner for an uncomfortable few months. Roby made the transition by splitting his time between his Chicago car lot and establishing another auto sales business in LA. By September, we were settled in our new California home.

A Mind Expanding Experience

It took some getting used to the subtle differences between Midwest and Pacific Coast business practices. For one thing, while Chicago seemed buttoned-up formal, California appeared laid back and casual. But looks can be deceiving. Certainly there was corruption and under-the-table dealings in Chi-town. But in LA we discovered sharks with big teeth were a force to be reckoned with.

Running a used car lot in Chicago, Roby had his own finance company and could rely on his customers to pay their bills on time. They either lived in the community or went to the church in one of the buildings he owned. If they didn’t pay on time and the car came up missing, they knew Roby’s impound. In Los Angeles, the area is so wide-spread and people tend to move around a lot, making it very difficult to repo a vehicle. Also in Chicago, Roby had a good relationship with the suburban new car dealers to pick up their trade-ins for just a few dollars, which he resold on his lot for profit. In LA, he had to go out to the dealers’ auto auctions in heat and smog, and spend considerably more money for inventory.

Roby kept the car lot going in LA for a while, but soon discovered the car wash business was more lucrative and successful. He opened Roby’s Hand Car Wash at the top of a hill at the intersection of three much-traveled roadways: Stocker, LaBrea and Overhill. In its day, this car wash was a popular meeting ground for politicians, celebrities and sport stars. Deals were made through direct contact, sometimes out the trunk of a Bentley or Rolls Royce.

Meanwhile, my beauty shop days were over. I was ready to move on. I had become an avid reader of business magazines and classified ad papers, opening myself to new ideas and inquiring about business opportunities. I was learning about mail order and looking for products to sell. I tried several items that car lots might use, but the products required demonstration and I grew tired of traveling around in the big city traffic.

My passion was in being near the beach. At that time, roller skating was the rage and Roby felt I would do well in a skate rental on the boardwalk. That was great! I had a little hut right under Santa Monica Pier renting out skates and bikes. I met celebrities and tourists from all over the world and became part of a unique community of beach lovers like myself.

That went on for a couple of years, until one day I got a postcard for a new sun tanning parlor. I thought what a great idea! Here I was at the beach every day tucked away in a little cave, but never out in the sun. When Roby heard the idea, he invested in sun tanning equipment and we opened up shop in the business district in downtown LA. Surely those office folks would want to work on their tan; but sadly, no. We lost a lot of money and I went back to the beach.

By now, Roby’s imagination was so fertile he was coming up with new ideas all the time. The next adventure took us to build Marina Hot Springs, a ten-room motel converted to a hot tub spa. It was a luxurious place for relaxation, rejuvenation and romance. Theme rooms like the redwood terrace, mirrored room and Flintstone’s Cave rented by the hour. We handed out 2-for-1 passes everywhere we went and the place was filled 24 hours a day, every day.

To help promote the spa, we produced our own television, radio and print advertisements. I started a company called Commercial Network that allowed us discounts when purchasing ad space and time. I took a class in paste-up and layout to create promotional materials. Though still very young, our children participated in construction and spa maintenance. It was a beautiful place and drew crowds of attention, but ended sadly for us. (That’s a story for another day.)

On to the next idea

Roby became ill following Marina Hot Springs. Stress had taken a toll on him and he needed rest. During the next year, he sold a few cars but became interested in distressed real estate.  This led us to write our first talking book: BUYING FORECLOSURES BEFORE THE AUCTION. It was a big hit on three audio cassette tapes with workbook and user-friendly forms, produced in-house by Roby and Cathy. We sold thousands of copies through mail order, The Learning Annex and Entrepreneur Magazine.

Following the success of Buying Foreclosures, Entrepreneur Magazine asked us to produce additional start-up manuals on other businesses we were involved in. This partnership was very successful and continued for a few years. Like everything else, we eventually moved on to greener pastures.

Having successfully conducted business on both local and national basis, we were led to discover the international marketplace. And that takes us to present day, World Business Exchange Network.

Next time:

I’ll tell you how to turn your idea into a profitable business.


I’m sure many can relate to how it feels to lose a job; whether by choice or by chance, it hurts. There are overwhelming feelings of discomfort that cannot be described as anything but anguish. Put aside the loss of income (painful as that may be) and concentrate for endless moments on the loss of self-esteem, the derailment of your sense of personal value. All the good you once felt is just gone. You have nothing to wake up for next day… or the day after that… Life loses its glimmer. Everything goes dark.

That’s how it felt when I was fired from Jack’s Hair-em. I had devoted six and a half years of my young life to being the best hairdresser and shop manager that I could be. But one day, I lost it all.

How things evolved

Things had been building up to this day for a while. There were signs that I should leave and people were telling me that I was smart enough to run my own business. But still, I felt a sense of obligation to my employer who had given me a chance right out of beauty school, not even knowing whether I was qualified or mature enough to take on the responsibilities he had piled on my 18 year old self.

Jack had given me a unique opportunity to grow as a person and learn about business. In those few years I emerged from a shy aimless teen into a confident young woman. My dress code went from cut-offs and sweatshirts to fashion and style while honing my professional skills. It was during that time I fell madly in love with the man of my dreams. Meeting Roosevelt Roby further contributed to the changes that took place in me. He saw my potential for greater things. His love encouraged me to view life with wide open eyes.

Being in a committed relationship, I began to see the flaws in my employer and his workplace. For one thing, I realized some of Jack’s personal shortcomings and lost respect for him. For another, my relationship with coworkers took a downward turn. I became so uncomfortable in my once stable environment until Roby urged me to consider moving on. He insisted I get the phone numbers of all my clients, “just in case.”

What’s next?

My first reaction was utter fear of the unknown. What would I do? Where would I go? I decided the best course of action was to approach the competition. I was well known in the neighborhood and my clients would certainly follow me anywhere within reason. So I went to one of the beauty salons down the street and asked if I could rent a chair. To my surprise, the shop owner declined my offer. She felt I was being disloyal to Jack. Ours was a close knit community, after all.

Word traveled fast and Jack learned that I wanted to leave him. It was a busy Friday and I had three or four patrons settled under the dryers. I was taking a break in the back room when Jack burst in red-faced and fuming. He had taken my license off the wall and threw it at me. He told me to leave right then and there.

Shaking, I gathered up my personal tools and belongings. I went to each of my patrons, lifted the dryer hood and announced I was fired. I apologized for the inconvenience and thanked them for the opportunity to serve them. Then, I flew out the door.

Is losing a job ever a good thing?

Once on the street, I didn’t know where to go or what to do. I phoned Roby and started to cry. He calmly replied, “Oh baby, don’t you worry. He did us a favor.” In his eyes, this was my opportunity to grow.

But change never comes easy. During the next month, I was simply devastated. I went on job interviews to salons outside my neighborhood where I was not known. It was too far for my regular customers to travel and it takes time to build a new clientele.  Being the new girl made me feel incompetent and I started to question my own abilities. I wanted to purchase my own salon, but the bank wouldn’t loan money for what they called “chattel.” This brought my self-esteem to an all-time low.

Faith, focus, follow-through

But, God was watching and He opened a door. One of my former patrons offered to help me purchase a shop a few blocks in the opposite direction from Jack’s. By today’s standards, the price was ridiculously low and I was able to pay her back with interest within two years. When word got out that Cathy’s Coiffures was opening soon, my customers began to book appointments. In a short time, all my clients returned and even some of Jack’s regulars came to me. I was one of their own, after all, having lived in the neighborhood my entire life and growing up among them.

While my business thrived, Jack moved out to the suburbs and opened a shop near his home. I know I took a bite out of the competition and continued to be the best I could. I remained in that location for five years, until a bitter cold winter led us to vacation in California and a new chapter began on my life.

As Mr. Roby would say, it takes faith, focus and follow-through to be successful in any business.

Faith in God helped me through the tough times so that faith in myself was renewed. Focus and concentration helped me become a better stylist and ultimately better in business. Follow-through remains one of my best qualities. As my Mom would say, “You can’t give up; you have to finish what you start.”

Next time:

I’ll tell you how moving to California opened up a world of possibilities and many new business ventures.