Octavia Denice Everette did everything a young adult is told to do to get a solid start in life.
She got a good, sensible degree from Kentucky State University, majoring in business and minoring in human resources. She launched a career in human resources right out of college, helping large corporations like Xerox recruit talent.
She married and had three children. When she was offered a better paying job recruiting for a health care call center, she thought she had it made.
"I was able to upgrade our lives with a nicer home, a newer car and most importantly, I was finally able to make payments on my student loans," Octavia said. "I thought ‘I can pay all my bills and still have some funds for my Black Friday shopping! I can start a savings account with extra rainy day money.'"
Digital Access For Only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
But just when Octavia thought she could relax and enjoy a stable life with her husband and three daughters, the rug was pulled out from under her. She was one of many laid off from her job in a massive, company-wide layoff.
Although she was given one month's severance pay, that wouldn't touch the now bigger bills looming the following month, not to mention that Christmas was just around the corner.
The sudden blow to her finances and sense of security hit her hard.
"I got really depressed, and that's not like me. I'm a really bubbly person," she said. "I was so down, I couldn't get the girls out of the house for trick or treating until an hour before it was over.
"I realized depression was starting to consume me. I couldn't let it control my life — I control my life and my own destiny!"
Under pressure to find a solution quickly, Octavia talked to her husband about starting her own business.
"I knew I would never work harder for any other company other than my own," she said. "I never wanted my girls to feel the amount of stress, despair, hopelessness, depression, anxiety and horrible feelings that started to suppress my mind with the thought of how I was going to pay the bills next month."
Ironically, the seeds of her business idea grew out of a bitter disappointment she and her daughter had experienced months earlier. Octavia had wanted to treat her daughter to a manicure at a local nail salon for her birthday but was turned away because her daughter was a child.
"I thought ‘I wish there was a place where I could take my girls where they could be in their own element, where they would feel like princesses and be respected on their birthday.' I never dreamed that I would be the person actually doing that only nine months later."
Octavia's husband, a graphic designer, helped her design a logo for the business, called the Pink Party Palace, while Octavia embarked on an intense 30-day sprint to open. She worked from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. — barely stopping to eat — and wrote a 90-page business plan.
As if by magic, doors began to open for her.
Octavia found the perfect space for her party business, complete with a runway, vanity mirrors and pink painted castle already in place and was given 30 days to make the first rent payment. She drained her 401K and Christmas savings and put everything on the line for her dream.
It paid off. After opening in 2013, the Pink Party Palace has been booked every weekend and continues to expand its offerings, which include spa and party services.
"I work eight days a month, helping people have fun and enjoy themselves," said Octavia, whose bubbly personality has returned. She is grateful that her business allows her to spend plenty of time with her daughters, ages 8, 9, and 13.
Octavia credits her support system, including her Christian faith, as key to her success. She says she's heard from many people, even Facebook friends she has never met, who say her story inspires them.
"I never knew I was touching or inspiring others," Octavia said. "I just knew failure was not an option. I knew I needed to pump out 110 percent for myself and my family."