Signs of Hope
A year ago Celia Thomas was unemployed in the middle of a pandemic, turning sixty, and unsure what the future held. Today she’s bringing happiness to her community through her thriving business, Simply Sign It. The journey hasn’t been easy, but overcoming challenges is nothing new for this longtime Edmond resident.
A New Beginning
Celia has always loved crafting, but she never expected to turn her artistic gifts into a business. Her working life before 2020 was fairly traditional–she’s been a social worker, a full-time mom, and most recently, a project manager for a large corporation.
“Then one morning I woke up and I didn’t have a job anymore,” she says. Her position was eliminated in the fall of 2019 with no warning, leaving her in total shock. “I started the process of putting on my big girl pants and redoing my resume,” she says. She didn’t get many responses, especially after the pandemic took hold.
After nine months of knocking on closed doors, Celia began considering other options. Her daughter suggested a yard- card business. Celia loved the idea. She started researching the possibilities, launched the business in September 2020, and was immediately swamped with Halloween orders. “I had about thirty-five,” she says. “It was crazy!”
“Going out and starting a business at sixty is scary,” says Celia. She recalls a moment of sheer panic, when she felt overwhelmed by the task she had undertaken. Then she thought back over the many obstacles she had already overcome. She has endured severe migraines, two bouts of breast cancer, life-threatening complications from reconstructive surgery, a midlife divorce, the deaths of her mother and oldest sister, and diabetes. Her strong faith and the love of her family brought her through each trial. She realized that if she could handle all those other challenges, she could handle starting a business, too.
Celia draws strength from the memory of her sister and favorite crafting partner, Judy, who passed away in 2019.
Judy loved dragonflies and owned several pieces of art that featured them. In Judy’s honor, Celia includes a dragonfly on each display she creates. “I want to remember her in the work that I do,” she says.
Giving Back to the Community
As a mom and grandmother of Edmond Public Schools students, Celia has always been an enthusiastic supporter of local schools. The pandemic has made it difficult to volunteer in person, but she continues to give back through Simply Sign It. She will donate 25 percent of a customer’s total purchase price to any school or charity that the customer selects. “It’s important to me that our kids and our grandkids succeed in life and end up adding value to the world,” she says. “If I can help with that by donating funds to the schools, I’m going to do it.”
Although Celia loves her new role as a business owner, her job isn’t easy. Setting up yard sign displays involves a huge amount of planning, driving, physical labor, and time. She often works seven days a week, accommodating last-minute requests and creating customized displays. Every bit of that effort pays off when she sees the smiles on her customers’ faces. “Those are memories they’ll have forever,” she says. “I touch people’s lives and make memories for them. I can’t think of anything better to be doing.”
Learn more at simplysignitok.com.