Written by Carlee McCullough

Layoffs, downsizing and restructuring have been felt by many nationwide. While the experience is rarely pleasant, the result can be life changing in a positive way if a successful, thriving business is the end product.

Across the country, entrepreneurs have taken lemons and made lemonade. From bed and breakfasts to cider companies, these former employees decided to become the employers in creative businesses that set them apart from others.

Our Town America

After working in corporate America for over 30 years, at 60 years old Su Hartung was laid off after a company buyout. Putting her experience in sales and marketing to great use, she purchased an Our Town America franchise in DeKalb, Ill. The franchise provides other businesses an avenue to market to new folks in the neighborhood.

The Pet Photographer

A casualty of a recession, Lori Cheung was laid off from her job at a consulting firm. She took the news in stride and started The Pet Photographer. Her business has been featured in O Magazine and on Animal Planet. She started her business by volunteering her services for animal groups and pet shelters to promote adoptions. By her own accounts, Lori’s cash flow is better now than when she was an employee.

Betsy’s Backyard Birds

After working almost 30 years for a manufacturing company, the company was sold and subsequently closed. In line with her passion for bird watching, Betsy Hendel started Betsy’s Backyard Birds. According to her website, she maintains a year-round, clean, and nourishing environment where wild birds can thrive and be enjoyed by her clients. She sells birdhouses and feeders for birds and squirrels in addition to the bird seed. She makes personal house calls to service the feeders. What a great way to fulfill a bird watching hobby.

Wide Open Expeditions

After 19 years of service, Pam Richards was laid off. She used the opportunity to partner with her husband and start Wide Open Expeditions, a bed-and-breakfast on 52 acres in New York. From turkey hunting and fishing, those with a love for the outdoors can share in the experience of the business created as a result of Pam’s layoff. They even live on the property, which helps with expenses in the long run.

Sweet Revenge

After being laid off from her job in brand development, Marlo Scott took her expertise and branded her own business, Sweet Revenge, which serves cupcakes, wine, and beer in Manhattan. Scott took the idea of a bar to another level. Combining artisan international inspired desserts with international beers and cocktails sounds like a winning combination. Additionally, she has trademarked “Sweet Revenge”. According to her website, she is a firm believer that the safest bet is on oneself and the sweetest revenge is just to be happy

Bits of Love

While battling Lyme Disease as a result of a tick bite, Cheryl Laughlin was laid off from a marketing position. Reminiscing about pleasant memories of her mother, she remembered a ring her mother gave her as a child. It bore the word “love”. This served as the inspiration for her jewelry company, Bits of Love. So in partnership with her boyfriend of many years, who ironically also had Lyme Disease, she used part of her 401k and a credit card to start the business. With a natural love of words, she uses tiny, powerful word rings to inspire other people taking on the unexpected ups and downs of life. Per her website, http://www.bitsoflovestyle.com, “the first LOVE ring for BITS OF LOVE jewelry was born with the hope that each ring brings you a bit of stylish inspiration too.”

Scrapbook Mamma

While no layoff feels good, there is nothing that can prepare a mother of two-year-old quadruplets for a layoff from her director-level position with a hotel chain. Armed with her severance package, MaryBeth Reeves put her motherly passion of immortalizing those awesome childhood moments in time by creating Scrapbook Mamma, which is a digital service that creates children’s memory books. Although she did experience a cut in pay, putting her efforts and energy into a passion project is invaluable.

The Peoples Cider

Can it get any more ironic than losing your job at the unemployment office? Well, it certainly happened to Jason Lummen. But he bounced back and created The Peoples Cider company, which makes and sells craft hard apple cider. He pulled together enough money to purchase ten 50-gallon fermentation tanks and a winemaker’s license. Currently making a dry draft cider of 6.9 percent alcohol and a high gravity 13 percent alcohol cider, his flavors have taken cider to a new level. Cherry, blueberry and honey flavors are his mainstay.

(Contact Carlee McCullough, Esq., at 5308 Cottonwood Road, Suite 1A, Memphis, TN 38118, or email her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .)

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