Posted by Colleen Menning on

Hi! My name is Colleen and I am a Paparazzi Jewelry Consultant. I've been selling this fabulous $5.00 jewelry for just about 2 years now and I am having a BLAST doing it! I have met lots of great people, have lots of fun experiences and I'm loving every minute of it.

My inventory has grown over the last couple of years from about 300 pieces of jewelry to about 3,000 pieces (holy moly...I think I need help! Lol!)! I primarily sell at events and fairs but I also do an occasional home party as well. However...because of the large amount of jewelry I have to tote around with me and set up, it has become quite a job just in my set-up. Because of this, I don't do many home parties just for time it takes in setting it up. SO...enter the crazy entrepreneur in me! I have heard of other Paparazzi girls starting a Mobile Jewelry Store and I decided that because I have so much jewelry to set up every time I want to sell it, that I just NEEDED a truck of my own.

Let me back up to about a year ago. I mentioned the idea of starting a Mobile Fashion Boutique to my Husband around this time last year and I think that he thought I would let the idea go...I'm not sure why he thought that. ?? Once I get a harebrained idea in my head, I don't give up! He of all people should know that! Lol! However, not long after I brought up the idea, my Husband was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer. My world just literally stopped. My Mom was diagnosed with terminal cancer 6 months earlier and we were already struggling to care for her as she had already surpassed the amount of time the doctors gave her. We knew her time was approaching the end, and now I was faced with possibly losing my Husband too. His cancer was rare and very aggressive, with only a 40% survival rate. The outcome was bleak, but we weren't going to give up, that's for sure! As I said earlier...I don't give up. They assigned a Sarcoma Team at OHSU to his care and we began treatment. His treatment consisted of a week in the hospital every 3 weeks for chemotherapy for 6 months. He also had to have 8 rounds of radiation and surgery to remove a melon sized tumor from his buttock. It was a painful, frightening time for both of us. Not knowing if the treatment will even help or if it will do more harm than good, missing a week of work every month while in the hospital, countless hours in Portland traffic to get him to and from his appointments, watching him become dependent on extremely high doses of pain medications just to be able to make it through the excruciating pain he was in, watching your spouse endure the sickness from the chemo drugs, wondering how we were gonna pay our bills and the mounting medical bills too, worrying about keeping our jobs, worrying about losing our medical insurance if we lost our jobs, wondering if he was going to be able walk once the tumor was removed, not knowing if he would have to be on disability or if he would qualify for it even, trying to stay strong while watching your Husband go through the emotional roller coaster on a daily basis, and all the while, still struggling to take care of my dying mother. These were all things I struggled through during the scariest months of my life.

On December 10th, 2015, while I was in the hospital with my Husband during his week-long chemotherapy treatment, my Mother passed away. I decided to go home for a night during that week so that I could see my Mom while she was in respite care in a nursing facility. I thank GOD that I did, because she passed away the next day. It was a terrible internal struggle whether to be with my Mom or my Husband, who both needed me, and that's why I decided to leave him in the hospital to see her and I'm so glad I did. I would never have forgiven myself if I didn't get to see her one last time. After she passed away, the days became even darker for me. It was difficult to get through a day without tears (and even now as I write this). But, I still had to be strong for Larry so my grief was set aside (which I found out later is called delayed grief, and it can be even worse to deal with). I found that out the hard way in May, during her birthday and Mother's Day. That was not a good month for me needless to say.

So after my Mother's passing in December, my Husband had his surgery to remove the tumor, which went very well. Things were looking up, however, we were not in the clear. He had 3 more chemo treatments to go and we would not know anything until several weeks after the final treatment. In January, Larry was recovering from surgery and would not be able to return to work for 6 weeks and I had run out of paid time off so we both had several weeks of unpaid leave. Thank God for friends and loved ones. One of his co-workers started a Gofundme account for us and that helped us get through without missing a bill. We still had tens of thousands of dollars in medical bills to pay, but we were able to stay afloat.

​So, needless to say, with all of the struggles we were going through and the financial state we were in, my dream of starting a Mobile Fashion Boutique was just that...a dream. After all, we were still going through cancer treatments for him and we both knew that the timing wasn't right for an investment like that. And because we were not sure about our future, or whether he would even survive this cancer, we really couldn't invest in anything but doctor bills at that time. Basically, my world stopped when Larry was diagnosed and my business came to a screeching halt anyway. Honestly, I didn't even know if I still had it in me to keep my business going at that point. I had barely sold any jewelry in months, but then at the end of February I attended my first sales event in what seemed like forever. It was a Relay for Life Cancer Fundraiser event. It was a moving experience for me since I had just lost my Mom to cancer and could possibly lose my Husband to it too. It breathed new life in me and hearing stories from cancer survivors and from caretakers of cancer patients, it made me realize that I AM stronger than I knew I ever could be and that I was NOT going to give up the fight.  I still had to be strong for Larry and I had to leave our fate in God’s Hands. I had to trust that whatever was to happen was for a reason. I began to take interest in my business again and at that point, I also realized that whatever happened, I needed to make sure that I could take care of myself or both of us if he was not able to return to work. So, I found that my dream for a Mobile Fashion Boutique WAS actually a NEED. It would be a way to earn extra income if or when we needed it. We didn't know what the future would hold for us, so I wanted to be proactive. 

A couple of months after Larry's last chemo treatment, I mentioned the idea of buying a truck to him again. At first he was like NO WAY! But I kept after him and explained the logic of having an extra income when we needed it and he said that if his first 3 month check-up came back clear, that we would could buy a truck! Whoa! Who was this guy?! He always tells me everything! Lol! My Mom had left us a small amount in her estate and I know that she would have LOVED to see me make this dream into a reality so we decided that we would use that to help secure an income for our future if we needed it.

Of course, I was over the top excited, so over the course of the next few months, I would check Craigslist to see what kind of trucks were out there for sale. I showed him a few here & there but never got much response from him.  Of course...he was dragging his feet because he didn't think I'd go through with it.  Silly, silly man…


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