I reviewed a barter request Tuesday that involved two storage units at UHaul.

This client couldn’t afford to continue paying a monthly fee on both Units and is planning to marry in August.

Covid-19 has changed many things for many people. From job loss to wage cuts client who previously could easily pay for services can no longer afford to do so.

This is our second client in two months that can’t afford to keep paying storage.

I answer a lot of questions from not only prospective clients but also others who wonder how Cindy and I keep Texas Twins Events, The Pawning Planners, Texas Twins Treasures and TDCJ Officiant stronger than ever when other business ventures are failing.

Only the strong survive my friend. Experience matters.

While other vendors are losing client bookings, Cindy and I continue to book new clients and waiving our booking requirements in order to help new booking requests keep their money during this economic spiral.

Waiving booking requirements and deposits? Absolutely.

Our clients need to keep their money right now and we don’t need it.

Cindy and I are in a unique position that most entrepreneurs aren’t by being financially stable. We don’t have to work. We haven’t had to work in many years now. We planned for a rainy day years ago.

Cindy and I have frequently been laughed at by other vendors regarding not only bartering but also regarding prison weddings.

We laugh now thank you very much. We also “covered every economic level” by offering bartering as a booking option.

The clients no one else wanted were welcomed. The people that other vendors viewed as not being “affluent enough” needed help too but due to their income level couldn’t find it.

Cindy and I changed all of that. We welcomed diversity. We welcomed the opportunity to flip items and recover our event investment. We have also had five years of fun on location.

Wild trade propositions and loads of laughs? Absolutely. I never know what my next interesting proposal will be and I like it that way.

Wednesday after getting off a conference call, someone called me who “had found me on the internet and noticed our success.” This was going to be interesting.

“How can I help you?” The caller waited and composed their need. “I’m out of work and had previously worked by finding people for oil leases. The industry has shut down due to Covid-19 and I want to do what you do now. I need you to teach me how to be successful in the unique niche of officiating prison weddings that you’ve found.”

Oh really? You want me to create competition we don’t have? Interesting but not isolated. Over the past three years I’ve had similar calls, emails and texts from people wanting to bust into the prison wedding business. I don’t have any competition there either. Why not? It’s interesting and enlightening to learn why. I do what no one else will that’s why. From walking clients through a very confusing paperwork process to helping them with everything from filing an appeal regarding revoked visitation or preparing a parole packet or letters of support, I’m by far MORE than simply an officiant.

The role of a prison officiant REQUIRES vast knowledge and understanding of policy and procedure.

Whether it’s State, Federal, ICE, or County, I know all of the policies in all of my service area states.

Cindy and I aren’t limited to Texas and never have been. We are national.

Offering free bridal or groom photos with a vast inventory of our bouquets, veils, fascinators, tiaras, signs, furs and exclusive inventory at no cost to our clients? You bet. We make our clients wedding day as special as they are. We also exceed their expectations. Client referrals are HOW and WHY we are also so successful in this unique client booking success.

People who either thought that “no one wanted to marry an inmate” OR that officiating inmate ceremonies were controversial don’t think “no one wants to marry an inmate” anymore. Why? Because we book more prison weddings than any other service. In fact, inmate weddings now compromise 90% of all of our event bookings.

The caller was a little offended at my question “you want me to create competition we don’t have?” It’s a question/statement that I use frequently when someone decides that “if she can do it I can do it too” and calls me to teach them how. Come on.

If it were that easy wouldn’t everyone be doing it? I would never call someone else to teach me how to do their job but we live in a world of arrogance and entitlement ya all.

People will ask for an apple and expect a pie.

People don’t laugh at our diversity anymore. Instead they wonder how in the heck a set of twins that started a people over profit based business became successful at an endeavor no one expected to work.

“Use ANY obstacle as a VEHICLE to SUCCESS.” Cindy and I were never trying to be like everyone else. That market was saturated. What we were trying to do was help people no one else wanted to help. The donut hole folks. The people with limited resources. The people that were “different.” The people that other vendors had turned away.

In the beginning of Texas Twins Events, many of our clients were LBGT. Other vendors wouldn’t touch them. We welcomed them with open arms. Cindy and I were never concerned about what others thought of our clients. We were LBGT Friendly long before it was “cool or trendy.” We also noticed that our clients frequently couldn’t afford our low cost booking options or flowers or photography.

Cindy and I began amassing what we needed to help our clients have “all the fixings.” We would loan them the bouquets and bouteniers. We would create an inventory solely to loan to booked clients so their wedding photos looked like everyone else’s. We would buy camera equipment. We would do our own photos as a courtesy. We would be different. The people we would like to meet. We would give others the Dream Event we had never had for ourselves.

A few years after starting Texas Twins Events, Cindy and I decided to rebrand and expand by merging Texas Twins Treasures and Texas Twins Events to create The Pawning Planners. A barter option? Yes. Other vendors laughed. We didn’t care. We booked clients bartering services year round.

Our competition couldn’t find bookings off season but we did. We didn’t limit booking requests either. We left that window wide open. What did they need? What did they have? Could we flip it?

In order to be successful in the flipping business you need knowledge. You need to know what has value or doesn’t. You need to know what the cost to refurbish or move items is. You need storage. You also need a selling outlet. I.E. you need money, knowledge and experience. If you don’t have one or all of these things you won’t make it in the barter business.

Cindy and I have 30 years of sales and marketing experience each. We know what sells.

A few months ago no one expected face masks to be in demand. We didn’t either but we had a warehouse of luxury logo fabric. We had clients that were experienced seamstresses. We had a winning combination.

Again, the Texas Twins stepped up and out selling what people wanted. Quality. Unique and durable exotic designer fabrics. Our masks sales the past 8 weeks surprise even my husband. We can’t keep our masks in stock. They ship worldwide. Everyone wants one.

A number of people have contacted me to find out “where I’m getting my fabric?” Oh, you want me to create competition we don’t have? Lol. By the way, our designer fabrics are imported from Dubai. There’s a minimum order requirement and if you don’t have $6k and up to meet the minimum order requirements, you aren’t going to find that fabric. We sell what people want. We don’t sell items you can find at Walmart. Quality never goes on clearance.

Picking through the storage unit with Cindy, I find three lacquer panels of oriental origin. These are worth money. They work well with any number of home interiors. A few boxes of junk which was expected. Western bronze statues. Indian hand carved totem poles. Hmm. Our client is an eclectic collector.

Walking a trade or trades always finds me with a tablet in my hand doing inventory. Cindy picks. Wendy lists. The first unit is three times larger than the other unit. We spend a few hours going through what to keep and list or what to donate. Do we know someone who needs this or that? I keep a list of others in need at all times when we are appraising trades.

If it isn’t worth the expense of listing and shipping, we donate items to clients in need.

I remember the bed that found a good home for one of my clients sons. It was brand new and the barterer had bought it planning to move his daughter into his home but due to job loss didn’t need it because he was moving in with his daughter. We found the perfect home for that bed after listing it when one of my clients sent me a message that her son was coming home from the military. She offered for barter 12 cases of newborn diapers. We also found a home and use for those diapers.

At 7AM this morning, while picking through this Unit, I get a call from someone who “came across your sites on the internet and want to know if you can reupholstery my sofa because I love your fabrics.” Umm no. We aren’t in the reupholstering business buddy. We can refer you to an upholsterer but we don’t sell our fabric to anyone. Why? Because most people have no idea what hand loomed silk fabrics cost.

Our fabrics are luxurious, soft to the touch and durable because they are expensive. I would never invest the amount of money it costs to refurbish furniture with cheap material.

When you buy a Texas Twins Treasures item you are buying quality, durability and structure. I don’t sell junk. Cindy and I are very picky about what we do sell. If we wouldn’t buy it we don’t list it.

Last year one of our friends who has a radio show contacted us. It’s not uncommon for Cindy and I to do radio interviews. It’s actually common. After all there isn’t anyone anywhere who does what we do and does it with success. Explaining how and why we decided to jump on the wedding bandwagon was easy. My son was getting married and I was off work going through thyroid cancer treatments. I had been working 50-60 hours most of my life at that time. I was tired. I was also concerned I wouldn’t recover as I had a lump in my breast too.

My husband encouraged me to retire from sales and marketing. I wasn’t ready to retire. We downsized and sold our 6 bedroom 4 bath with a pool home on 2 acres. Empty nesters starting over, I decided to partner with my twin sister and start an event business to help people who weren’t rich. People who had trouble being accepted by other vendors.

We became friends of the friendless. Our journey at the conception was met with controversy. “That will never work.” Or “where will you find the clients?” We didn’t. They found us and yes it did work. In fact it worked so well that we rebranded and expanded not once but twice over the next five years.

If you missed the interview, here’s the link… Talking To The Texas Twins.

Being different, diverse and driven is part of our success. We enjoy spending time together and meeting new people. We love finding treasure among trash and we are blessed to meet amazing people from all walks of life.

Our story and our success are surprising to people that expected us to fail. But we don’t care. We weren’t concerned about people who weren’t on our client roster laughing about our diversity.

Cindy and I opened our hearts and our minds and twin teamed our way through an amazing journey. The travels of the Texas Twins continue from Fort Worth, Texas…