Client Q&A: Jeff Usner
“It doesn’t matter how much you’re drowning; there’s always hope, and you just need to keep pushing forward.”
“We got instantaneous results; it was like I got a shot in the arm and another chance, a new life.”
Describe what your life was like before attending First Steps To Success.
Melissa dabbled in real estate and I was in the landscape business and pretty frustrated when I came. I was making some good money, but just unbelievably frustrated. In the beginning, I’d say I easily turned down sale after sale after sale because I didn’t want to make it. I didn’t know how to make it. I didn’t want to spend time making it.
How/when did you first hear about Dani Johnson?
Going back before I even knew who Dani Johnson was, my friend Jeff Usner called me and said, “You gotta come check out this Dani Johnson lady. She’s pretty wild. She loves God, but she’s teaching some (business) phenomenal stuff.” And that’s really all Jeff told me.
So, I hopped on a plane, flew out to Seattle from Texas, and took some people with me, ’cause I don’t like to travel alone. I think we had about ten people with us, and no one really knew where we were going, or what we were doing, but we’re headed to Seattle to see some – quote – wildly successful, maybe crazy lady. We really had no clue!
I was really intrigued that here was this lady, who’s very successful, loves God and is teaching (success) principles out of the Bible. I’d never encountered that before, and I was just excited to be there.
So what happened for you at First Steps To Success?
RICK: When I’m there shortly into this – and it’s probably two hours into the opening of day, and I’m just weeping. The Spirit of God was just overwhelming, and it was the truth. And when the truth hits you, it can impact you on a heart level, and that’s what was happening to me. I’d never heard anything like it, never seen anything like it, and I was absolutely blown away.
The very things I learned in First Steps To Success were all about putting these principles into practice with my customers…to capture them.
And I just say that to give God the absolute glory. Because obviously a lot of people are praying for business expansion and whatnot, and God is in the business of doing the outrageous.
MELISSA: I remember sitting in many First Steps To Success events and just praying God would give me the opportunity to really take what I was learning – because I mean pages – I would fill up pages and pages of notebooks – I almost couldn’t capture everything Dani said, and I remember thinking, “God, how can I put this to use? Would You…”
Would God dare entrust me with something that I can take this skill set that I’m learning, really implement it and – BAM – here it is. Here it is.
How have your lives changed since First Steps To Success and coming to the DJC community?
We got instantaneous results; it was like I got a shot in the arm and another chance, a new life. And so, I came back and started implementing everything right away, and we were able to pay off $80,000.00 of debt within an 18-month period. Now it’s been so long, I honestly can’t remember, but we’ve been debt-free ever since then, and God has prospered us in ways that I could have never imagined.
We started the company Grace and Lace in October 2011, and within a few weeks, I had an idea we had our hands on something pretty big here. So, I started reaching out to some of my mentors asking who knew people in women’s manufacturing and apparel. That connected us with a very successful person out of Dallas.
And they wanted to buy a portion of our company – a large portion of our company, as a matter of fact – in February of 2012, just a few months into the business. And I told Melissa, “We’re not doing that deal. I don’t have any peace about that. I really feel like we’re supposed to be on ‘Shark Tank.’”
And she kinda looked at me like, “Yeah, I don’t know about that.” But we applied online and heard nothing over the next three months. Applied online several more times; heard nothing. Jeff and I were also talking about potentially working together with that venture. And I asked him point-blank, “Jeff, do you want to be a part of this business?”
And he said, “I do, but I really think you’re supposed to be on ‘Shark Tank.’” Then I said, “It’s funny that you mention that, because that’s on my heart as well.” Jeff said, “Well, I know the producer; let me make a phone call. Let me take care of that for you.” And within 15 minutes, we were on the phone with the producers of “Shark Tank.” And the rest is history.
But, had Dani not gotten Jeff on ABC’s “Secret Millionaire,” he wouldn’t have known the producer. And there you have it, so, I would say that Dani a big hand in getting us on “Shark Tank,” and may have been the reason we got this.
In our first calendar year, 2012, we did over $800,000.00 in sales. Our last 12 months, to date, we did $2.5 million in sales. We went from $0 to $800,000.00 in that first year and 90 percent of that business was all on social media. People find us on social networking. We have never paid a dollar for any marketing. Then August of last year was our first launch into stores. So, we’re now in over 230 stores.
It’s all about the power of relationships. And really, that’s what the social media has been. I mean not as a big, powerful boss or venture of this item, or creator of this item, but really just relate to people and get to know your customer. So, that’s what we did from day one, we just had to capture the people. I couldn’t tell them no, or turn the business away. And really, that is what I did with my Facebook page.
People complain it’s hard to get customers. It’s hard to maintain them. It’s because they have the wrong focus. Relationship has to be the first focus, and relationship always leads to business, even lead us to a national television show.
And maybe six months after my first encounter with the DJC community, my heart was really committed to what you guys were doing and just so thankful Jeff had introduced me to Dani and Hans and the whole team, because the whole team’s been phenomenal ever since I’ve known you guys.
What do you say to that person sitting there going, “Gosh, I wish I could do something to make more money”…what’s your advice?
I say don’t wish, just do it. Just do it. You never know what it is, how simple the idea of putting lace on the top of a sock could be, that it could take off and just blow your mind. Get rid of your fears, train yourself up, get yourself the right business training so that you can be an entrepreneur. Then, when you do have that thing, you are prepared. Because if I wasn’t prepared, if I didn’t have the skills and training and the business sense, if I didn’t have this amazing husband that has an incredible business mind and business experience, this thing – this ship – would have sunk a long time ago.
And so, prepare yourself. Don’t give up, but prepare yourself for that one thing, so when it does come, you’re prepared to handle it. Trust me.