Like other business owners having to start over after losing everything on April 27, 2011, Ledford said she found her road to recovery had less to do with finances and more to do with her faith, friends and blessings that took her means of living full circle and eventually made her even happier than before the storms brought those winds of change.
Ledford was the owner of Today’s Styles on Spring Place Road when those dark clouds bringing thunder, lightning and hail suddenly turned one Wednesday evening into a raging whirlwind of destruction as seven tornadoes wreaked havoc upon Bradley County like nothing ever experienced in the county’s history.
“On April 27, 2011, around 8 o’clock, a tornado hit my building from my end down,” she said. “One end of the building was fine. But from my end down there was nothing. Fortunately, we were already home and away from the shop. The next day when I went to see the damage I was devastated, just devastated.”
The damage was catastrophic. Ledford’s shop was gone. Only scattered debris, resembling an explosion, was left behind. The only thing Ledford could do was start over.
“I called several people to help me get started back,” she said. “I couldn’t get a loan to rebuild my business. So I went to work at another salon for a while.”
Month after month, while everyone was putting their lives back together after surviving the tornado wreckage, Ledford continued to work in a salon for someone else. Although she remained in her chosen profession, it was a far cry from where the Cleveland resident expected her career to be.
According to Ledford, while she was praying for an answer about trying to open her shop back up, her eyes were suddenly opened to an opportunity she believed was the answer to her prayers.
“Driving by a building I saw how it was empty and called the number to inquire about renting it,” she recalled. “It turns out that the owner of the building was my first boss at Shoney’s restaurant. I worked for him when I was right out of high school. I knew right then that this was where I am supposed to be! He was excited because he knew me, too!”
Ledford had finally gotten the break she needed. Someone from her past, who knew her well, had enough faith in her to help her jump-start her business career. One Sept. 17, 2012, Ledford opened her new shop with a new name — A Creative Touch Hair & Nails — and a renewed hope of personal success. She said it all came from her faith in God to make her dream a reality. But within a month something else transpired to convince Ledford she was on the right road to success — something she said made all the difference.
“I walked in here by myself, had my station set up and one day Angie Ross’s mom came in and called Angie to come down and rent a booth from me. Then Angie told her friend Melody DeLong and Melody came in! I just knew this was from God. They were both blessings to me. It was around the end of October to the first of December when they came in and everything has been going smoothly ever since.”
Instead of going into debt, Ledford explained, “Trying to buy everything at one time was impossible, so we added one thing at a time. That’s been going on almost every week now — furniture, pictures, stations, chairs — everything. We’ve taken one day at a time. I lost a lot of clients when the tornado hit because some people couldn’t find me. But people are finding me now and everything is coming together.”
Ross, Ledford’s friend and co-worker, said, “This feels like home! I’m so proud of this shop and how far we’ve come in such a short amount of time. This has been my dream. I feel good about my decision to work with Pam and Melody. I’m at a place in my life where I’m living my dream. I love encouraging people and coming to work each day. I love hanging up pictures, picking out furniture and decorating. It feels like home, not a business. Pam deserves a break in life, she’s been through a lot. We all have a lot of clients and we are all doing great. All three of us have had insecurities in life, but now we’re secure about who we are. Everything in the shop is paid for and that feels great!”
DeLong, another friend and co-worker with Ledford, said, “If someone has been through a tragedy you have to have a team of people you can really depend on — who are there for you — people who can help pick you back up. God being No. 1 in her life helped her get back up. But having a team of people who also believed in her was really big!
“It gave her the confidence she needed to come in and open her shop. It’s encouraging for people to hear about this because so many people are still paying for being in those tornadoes. Not only have they lost loved ones, but financially they are struggling to replace houses and businesses. You can’t replace people, but she’s showing you can replace a business. Hopefully this will encourage people to keep pressing on and pursue their dreams. Now she has an even nicer shop! It’s funny how you can lose something and God can bless you with something even better than what you had before.”
Ledford, 44, said she gives all credit to God for how things have turned out in her life, adding, “He has blessed me and He keeps me going. No matter what trial, no matter what storm — no matter what. God is on my side and that’s what keeps me going. He helps me make decisions. Now look at me. I’ve got a fresh start. It took me two years, but with God’s help, and Melody and Angie, I’m back!”
The three women paused, looked around the shop and smiled.
“Now all we need is a nail tech to join our team!” Ledford added, as they all laughed with a unanimous nod.