By Annette Cook
The blessing of sitting down with Donny on today's show was really heartwarming and inspiring for me. Donny has such a gift of giving all his guests the ability to tell their story in their own words. He has an intuitive sense in his interview style that is very engaging. He exudes class, sophistication, and above all compassion. He is able to take you back to the moment of courage, sorrow, or whatever you were feeling at various stages of your entrepenuerial journey.
Barefoot Dreams was born out of my need to get myself out of student loan debt which was about $85,000.00 and find a way to comfort myself after my parents tragically passed away and celebrate the joys of a new life.
I had always dreamed of having a family and being able to stay at home with my children and teach them the importance of a strong work ethic and the sense of family as the priority. Understand, I was raised in a small town in Wisconsin where I was the fifth of six children. We had a manufacturing plant, where my dad designed farm machinery and manufactured various products including lawnmovers, snow blowers, and high speed beverage packaging machines.
You could say that I was given the gift of being an entrenpeneur, afterall, my dad started his business in a garage and so did I.
Sadly for our family, my dad's story ended tragically in a bad business deal which ended up leaving our family in despair. My mom died in July of 1989 because she could no longer bear the sadness and the sorrow, and my dad died 6 months later of heart failure. At this time, I was in California pursuing a career in Optometry, taking out more and more student loans, but finding myself emotionally distraught that I could not continue my education. So my childhood dream of becoming an eye doctor was over, however, the student loans were still alive and well.
How was I going to figure this all out? I decided that I needed to start my own business if I was ever going to get myself out of debt. I have always loved children and anything that brings a sense of peace and comfort. After grieving my parents deaths , I decided it was time to celebrate the joy of a new life. .the birth of a baby.. and to design a product to be given as the best baby gift ever.. that it will become a little treasure..a cozy, comforting and chic baby blanket...hence Barefoot Dreams was born.
The name Barefoot Dreams really is in honor of my mom and dad..my feet are standing on earth while my parents thoughts and memories are in my dreams. The phrase that is on my blanket serves as a reminder to those that you love
"cuddle me, laugh with me ,grow with me, dream with me". These are great words to live by at any age.
Along my journey, I have experienced so many roadblocks and challenges too numerous to mention. Barefoot Dreams has expanded its collection and was chosen as one of Oprah's Favorite Things in 2003. Our cozychic collection has been adored by many celebrities and is sold nationwide in upscale department stores and specialty boutiques, including my sister's retail store in Boston, aptly named Lester Harry's after our dad. You can also find our product online at www.barefootdreams.com. It will provide you a wonderful link to www.ohbabyaustin.com and www.lesterharrys.com
I think what I have learned about being an entrenpeneur and following my dreams is that when you have good intentions and want to give back and contribute to the world to make it a better place, or in my case, a cozier and more comfortable one, you will be on the right road. The joys of my life are my husband, Stan, and our 3 boys, Grayson, Chase, and Preston. They provide me with constant inspiration, boundless energy,and truly are part of my product development team. They give me some of the greatest advice when designing new products. I want them to know that they are a part of our enterprise and that their inspiration is key to the continuing success of Barefoot Dreams
Special thanks to Meredith, Shauna, and Michael at the show. Everyone was so warm, wonderful and gracious. I also am so happy to say I have a special place in my heart for Michael, "How Starbucks Saved my Life". His wisdom and life story is so right on..thank you Michael for sharing your insight with me. Your are a kindred spirit that I find to be so endearing and I truly admire your courage and honesty.
Thank you for the opportunity.
Annette L. Cook
President & CEO
Barefoot Dreams, Inc.
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