Chapter 4 – Two Kids in the Big World of Business
These are just a few stories about how we became millionaires in our twenties from our kitchen table by self publishing a book, and then another book, and then another. We printed our first run at Kinko’s, believe it or not, then we went and found a commercial printer. We ran a multimillion dollar business from our garage for many years before we finally had a real office.
Hope you enjoy! You can either listen to the podcast, or watch us having the discussion about it in the forest (and there are lots of pictures from that time below).
Here’s the garage where it all started:
a big truck unloading our first order of 10,000 books into our garage
Neither Marq or I had ever been exposed to this much money. We didn’t even have this as a goal, actually. We wanted to make a few extra bucks and our business just exploded into a worldwide corporation.
So, knowing the things I’ve told you about my personality from the time I was a little kid, you can maybe get an idea of what some of my antics were at the beginning as I was trying to figure it out.
These are just a few of the funny stories from that time.
It’s nice to think about some of that….to break up all of the seriousness. We had built this business for 7 years before Marq had his accident, and the things that happened to our business after the accident are a huge part of our story. But we wanted to share some of the beginnings with you.
Here’s an exerpt from a magazine interview many years ago, telling about the early days…
When Chatterbox started, Marq and I had 3 small children. Brock was 6 years old, Malary was 3 and Madi was only a year old. A few months after the first orders, Marq came home from work and found that an entire stack of checks from our customers had fallen into the garbage can. I was trying so hard, but it all was happening so fast. Marq decided to take a month off of work to help me get organized…the business grew so fast that he never went back.
After a few people had gotten a hold of our books, stores started calling and asking if they could sell them. Marq took over the job of calling and working with the stores. We went to our first trade show, HIA, in January of 1998, with a really dorky homemade tabletop display and 3 more books that weren’t written yet. The store owners who attended to this show were charmed by our youth and courage and small town background…we made loyal customers for life, and then Chatterbox really started to grow.
Those first years were exhausting. The phone rang all day, the fax machine went all day, there were orders stuffed into our mailbox all week. We kept the business in our house and the kids were a part of every single bit of it.
At night, after the phone stopped ringing, we packed the orders out of our garage, which had become a warehouse. I remember weeks going by without us ever leaving the house because things were so busy…our nights out together were spent at the Laundromat to catch up on washing baby blankets and such.
Balancing a growing business with an equally growing family is tricky…our children thrived in this environment, and our employees made them feel special every single day…our children were constantly surrounded with love and fun.
Okay….enjoy the stories we told in the forest about this time!
This just might inspire you to go ahead with one of your own crazy ideas.
Enjoy the laughter. We are still laughing about all of this.
Here’s the video again:
melody & marq ross
our kids were always with us as we built the business
stores would ask me to come for book signings, this was one of those times
our little girls working beside me
our first actual warehouse