LIMA — It’s like walking into a catalog.
The grand home of John and Barb Fishpaw pays homage to the business that got them where they are, Celebrating Home.
The Fishpaws have been involved in the direct-sales company since 1997, when Barb Fishpaw attended a party and fell in love with the products. Celebrating Home offers home decor as well as dishware, candles and food items.
“If I get passionate about something, I’m all in,” Barb Fishpaw said. “Especially something like this that can help people.”
She knows firsthand how it can help. She married John Fishpaw at 18. He was drafted into the Army, went to night school after, and ended up working at a factory. She worked various retail jobs. Neither have formal college educations.
At her former bank teller job — a job she enjoyed because of all the interaction with people — she began to realize just how much of their two sons’ lives she was missing. She was tired of being pulled in two directions, balancing the desire to be a hard worker and the desire to be a stay-at-home mom.
Her first go at direct sales was with a jewelry company, but it wasn’t a perfect match. Once she found Celebrating Home, everything clicked. When she started in 1997, the company was just a year old and was then called Home and Garden Party. (The company bought out Home Interiors in 2008 and became Celebrating Home.)
When Barb Fishpaw was about to go to her first organizational meeting to learn more about selling Celebrating Home, her husband was a bit skeptical.
“I said, ‘Whatever you do, don’t sign no papers,’ ” John Fishpaw said.
But in the end, he trusted his wife.
“If she thought it was good, I knew it had to be,” he said.
Barb Fishpaw’s mother, Donna Thomas, knew what a saleswoman her daughter was. That was apparent a long time ago. As a child, Barb Fishpaw knitted potholders and hawked them door to door in the neighborhood. When Thomas first heard that her daughter was gung-ho about Celebrating Home, she remembers her exact reaction.
“I said, ‘Oh Barbara, don’t do that. You will just drive everybody crazy,’ ” Thomas said, laughing.
“But now she’s my biggest fan, as you can see,” Barb Fishpaw said.
Undeterred, Barb Fishpaw kept pushing her business towards growth. She dropped her “real” job down to part time and then soon realized she should make the leap into selling Celebrating Home full time.
“One thing led to another,” John Fishpaw said. “After a while, she made more money than I did.”
John Fishpaw’s job disappeared with a factory takeover, and the couple decided it would be best if he would help with the business.
“We saw it as God giving us a sign as maybe we could do this together,” Barb Fishpaw said.
“And we still like each other,” she said. “I don’t believe I would be as successful as I am without him.”
They haven’t looked back. Barb Fishpaw hosts two to four parties a week, staffs booths at fairs and craft shows, and holds a monthly sales meeting for Celebrating Home salespeople. She travels out of state often to meet with salespeople. John Fishpaw tracks and restocks inventory and takes care of the more physical labor parts of the job. They even hired a secretary for the paperwork. Her mother also pitches in to help with parties and wherever she’s needed.
Profits — in the high six figures — have allowed them to send their sons, Andrew and Joe, to college.
“We were able to do for our kids that we weren’t able to attain for ourselves,” Barb Fishpaw said. “It’s something we’re proud of.”
In 2002, the Fishpaws moved into their custom-built 3,500-square-foot home, a place designed around Celebrating Home. (They also have a second home in Boulder City, Nev.) The walk-out basement is home to a party room, where Fishpaw holds selling events. Nearly all the home’s decor is Celebrating Home, which has worked to her advantage.
An empty wall in the kitchen reminded Barb Fishpaw of the print that used to occupy the space.
“I sold it right off the wall,” she said, laughing.
Barb Fishpaw encourages everyone to consider direct sales.
“If you love the product, you can be a success,” she said. “There are so many direct sales companies. Find the product that fits you. I support all of them. I support all women in business.”