Judi Townsend, Founder of Mannequin Madness

It’s certainly true that a combination of events, decisions and moments of lightness and dark turn a person’s life into what it is. But what has become apparent from the women we’re interviewing at The Story Exchange, is that success is, to a great extent, determined by the degree to which we embrace the series of accidents, for lack of a better word, that happen during our lives.

Judi Henderson-Townsend, founder of Mannequin Madness – which sells, rents and recycles mannequins – seems to have embraced them all. What made this rural Tennessee-born woman into a successful entrepreneur, honored with multiple awards, is the way she seemed to not only recognize the accidents of life but act upon them.

On her route to becoming a million-dollar business owner, Judi followed the signs the universe gave her and took time to discover the reasons for meeting the people she did along the way.

Watch Judi describe the experience that led her into the arms of a mannequin:

She took lessons of perseverance from her father, who struggled to find employment as an African- American engineer in the dawn of equal opportunity. She learned from her farming grandparents who didn’t discard things but reused them out of necessity – principles that would later help germinate her business. And after her first venture failed, she saw in her colleagues the power of self-confidence to start over again.

And one day, after happening upon a used mannequin for sale on the Internet, Judi recognized that the accidents of life were converging before her eyes and decided to act. She jumped into her business and has never looked back.

So what we can take from her story is something that most of us know but often forget in our hastened daily lives — everything happens for a reason.

So today, when you meet a person — an old friend you haven’t seen for years, or someone new — don’t just pass them by. Take a moment to find out why they’re placed in your way and what they can bring to your life. You never know: it may just be the accident you’ve been waiting for.

And let us know: what accident of life led you down an unexpected path?