The unofficial theme for last month’s posts on This is Thirty Four was “New Beginnings.” This month’s theme is (drumroll, please) “Being Brave.” Today’s interview with my friend, Amy Rickards, is the perfect bridge between those two themes.
Amy and I have been friends since high school. We went to the same school, the same church and we even drove the exact same car (see Instagram for photos). As adults, we are living very similar lives on two different coasts. She has two children around the ages of my own kids. She grew up in the south but ended up marrying someone from another state. (Southern girls are often raised to think we will fall in love with southern boys.) We both teach at the college level, and our idea of the perfect afternoon is pretty much the same (see below).
In high school, I would have described Amy as a bit shy and quiet. Not timid. Amy is actually quite head strong (in the best way). She’s passionate and able to articulate her opinions like only a pastor’s daughter with a Master’s Degree in English can (e.g.- eloquently).
Over the past few years, I’ve watched Amy step out of her comfort zone and bravely enter the multi-level-marketing (MLM) space. Last month, she took on a new business venture and become an ambassador for Noonday Collection, and I immediately approached her about an interview. As a lover of fashion, accessories and people, I wholeheartedly support everything Noonday stands for.
Whether you’re working for a company like Noonday, toying with the idea of starting a new business venture, or wanting to step out of your comfort zone in another area of life, I think you’ll be encouraged and inspired by what Amy has to say.
Jenn Prentice (JP): Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Amy Rickards (AR): I am a thirty-six-year-old mother of two smart, funny, highly-energetic children! My daughter Sophia is seven, and she is tiny but mighty; my son, Jonah, is very much three! I am a sweet tea-on-the-porch sort of Southern girl married to a New Jersey Italian guy, and I am constantly thankful that God brought us together because he makes me laugh every single day and serves our family steadily and faithfully. I teach college courses for Regent University and Liberty University, and now I have become an ambassador for Noonday Collection. I love good books, coffee, and conversation, and the best scenario involves all three.
JP: I’m basically living a West Coast version of your life, so I know you’re already insanely busy. What made you decide to add online sales/multi-level marketing to your plate?
AR: Last year about this time I found a product that I love, and I started selling it, kind of on a whim, really. I’ve never been a very sales-y or pushy person, yet I found myself really loving interacting with my customers and helping them. It made me happy to help make women feel stronger and more confident about themselves—women starting new jobs, women grieving the loss of a loved one and just wanting to feel good, women getting married, and tired, thirty-something moms who needed a pick-me-up. I also found sales to be very satisfying in a different way from my other roles—teaching and motherhood have very subjective successes that are hard to measure quantitatively, and I loved the very objective, clear-cut success found in selling something.
JP: The objective, clear-cut success of selling versus the subjective successes of teaching and motherhood. Couldn’t have said it better myself. So, what attracted you to Noonday?
AR: I was immediately attracted to Noonday’s mission and the way that they serve the artisans creating these beautiful pieces. I’ve had so much fun this past year selling a different product, and I felt strongly that God wanted me to use some of the gifts and talents that He’s developing in me for a greater good.
I’m reading through Shauna Niequist’s devotional book Savor this year, and one of her entries from February resonated with me titled, “What I Came to Do.” She says, “I feel that feeling of a thousand slender threads coming together, strands of who I’ve been and who I’m becoming…the exact way God made me, not wrong or right, just me. I feel like I’m doing what I came to do, in the biggest sense,” and I feel that same sense of rightness about this endeavor. I don’t know what will come of it, if anything, but I know that I am in the midst of what I love, which is telling stories about beautiful works of art in a way that brings dignity and value to families in need.
JP: What have you learned about yourself from venturing into the online sales space?
AR: I’ve always known that I loved interacting with people and encouraging them, and it’s honestly been surprising to me how perfectly that love fits in with online sales. I’ve really worked to create a sense of community in my online sales groups and to have it be a place of encouragement and humor, not just about the products being sold.
JP: How has working in that space challenged you?
AR: I want people to love me, so as a people pleaser it is sometimes challenging to put myself out there in a way that sales requires, but I’m learning to do it in a way that is genuine for me.
JP: Ah yes, that people pleasing nature. I’ve got one of those too. That’s probably what bonded us so strongly as insecure high school students. Well, that and McDonald’s McFlurries…But seriously, what is your advice to someone wanting to get into this type of business—Noonday or any other MLM company?
AR: Whatever your “next step” is—whether it is online sales, starting a book club, or heading up a ministry at your church, I think it’s important to follow through if you feel God’s calling, and know that He’s going to provide you with what you need to do what He’s put before you. And also know that while it’s going to be hard work, it’s going to be incredibly fulfilling because He’s designed you to do what you’re doing!
JP: What are some of the mistakes you've made?
AR: I think my mistakes always come when I try to be someone I’m just not. Authenticity is a buzzword for a reason. People gravitate toward those who are real, and I always seem to lose my “real-ness” when I start looking at what other people are doing, instead of running my group and my business the way that feels right and authentic to me.
JP: I think I need to plaster that answer on my bathroom mirror. Learning how to be real and authentically YOU is such an important life lesson. Speaking of teaching people lessons, you have a daughter. How has the responsibility of raising her changed your perspective on women in business and your own career?
AR: One of the greatest joys of venturing into sales this past year has been the delight that my daughter Sophia has taken in helping me with my businesses. She loves helping me organize inventory and display product, and she will boldly tell anyone who will listen about her mommy’s amazing products and why that person should try them! She has such an entrepreneurial spirit, and I love showing her that she can find fulfillment in all sorts of fields.
JP: Ok. I’m asking this last question to everyone that I interview: At the end of your life, what type of legacy do you want to leave?
AR: My middle name—Parilee—is a family name that comes from my grandmother who spent her thirties (and most of her forties) serving as a missionary in East Africa, and I love the idea of continuing her legacy of nurturing families around the world. My first name, Amy, means “beloved,” and I hope that at the end of my life my family, friends, and students will have felt loved by me and that they will know that I loved and served them because I am Christ’s beloved.
Thanks for reading, friends. You can find out more about becoming a Noonday Ambassador here. Or, if you want to support their amazing company and get some beautiful accessories too, shop around with Amy. In case you’re wondering, I bought the Curvature Earrings.