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How pickles helped me go from homeless to happy

To: My children, Curtis, Eric and Myhia,

From: Latoya Moppins (As told to Lauren Brill)

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To my kids, Curtis, Eric and Myhia,

I always say I make pickles with a purpose, but as all three of you know before there were pickles, there was a lot of pain.

At 16, I got pregnant. My family moved and I ended up broke and in the streets.

At my worst, I was living beside a dumpster and eating out of the trash.

I would think to myself, “This can’t be my life.”

I didn’t yet know pickles, but I knew there was more out there for me.

A woman who worked at a women’s clinic found me and took me in to live with her and her family. But once I left there and entered the world on my own, I got into bad relationships with abusive men.

These men raped me and beat me.

Latoya got pregnant at 16 years old.

I had no self-esteem.

I had no sense of self-worth.

I had very little education.

And I had no idea how to be a good mom.

For years, I was trying to survive.

I realized as hard our circumstances were, I didn’t want to give up on my life because that would mean I was giving up on all of you.

My life started to change when I had you, Eric, my second child. I got a pretty good job, an apartment and I left my last and final abusive relationship, which nearly killed me.

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When you got a little older, I decided to take a chance and used a couple of thousand dollars of income tax to open a smoke shop called Smoke Signals.

Latoya says she kept fighting for her children.

One day I told you, Eric, to watch the shop, while I ran out to buy some supplies. When I came back, people kept asking to buy pickles.

I told them, “We don’t have pickles here.”

And one lady responded, “Oh, yes, you do.”

You, Eric, decided to sell my pickles, as you said to me, “Mom, everybody loves them.”

The smoke shop closed. With $50, in 2008, I started Glorious Gherkins, my pickle business.

Going from a homeless woman to a businesswoman meant not only did my money change, but over time, so did my mindset.

For a long time, people said to me, “You ain’t gonna amount to sh*t.”

Regularly, people told me what I couldn’t be and what I wouldn’t be able to do.

But I would look at all of you, my children, and it would give me faith that I could and would do better.

First, I started selling the pickles from my truck. Some people were skeptical, so I had to give the pickles away to get people to try them.

Also, I went to a pawn shop where I bought a printer and ink, so I could put my name and number on the bags where I placed the pickles. This way, people would know where they could buy more.

When I started Glorious Gherkins, I didn’t know anything about business. I was trying to keep the lights on in our home. Even so, I kept hustling. I kept pushing. I tried new tactics. I started making more flavors like garlic chicken, peppermint, tropical and strawberry cheesecake.

I would look at all of you, my children, and it would give me faith that I could and would do better.

After several years, I got a break when WFAA, Channel 8, did a segment on my pickles. I made $1200 from being on the news. While $1200 isn’t a lot of money, it meant everything to me. It meant I was creating my own lane and becoming the person everyone told me I couldn’t become.

From there, the business continued to grow and last year, I signed a partnership with the Texas Rangers, as Glorious Gherkins is the one creating those red, white and blue dogs. We make the relish and pickles.

Latoya started a successful pickle business.

We have sold pickles to homes in all 50 states and even made a few sales internationally. The business is continuing to grow. I have made a lot of mistakes, but I am always learning. And most importantly, we live in a beautiful home, with the lights on and food on the table.

This business has done so much for me. It’s given me self-worth and the belief that I am strong.

Now that I know what confidence looks and feels like, Myhia, my amazing daughter, I can instill that in you. That’s why I make you recite, every day, “I am beautiful. I am intelligent. I am worthy and I am awesome.”

You’re 15 and in a collegiate program at your high school and doing well.

Curtis, you are in school and Eric, you have a job and children of your own. I am so proud of all three of you and I want you all to know that you are capable of so much more than you even realize.

While our journey as a family has not been easy, I hope I have shown you that dedication can bring results.

You have seen me lose and get back up again and lose and get back up again.

I hope you learned that you can and you must persevere through any adversity in life.

All the time, I tell you that in life people are going to get down or they are going to lay down. If you get down, that means you get your money and you stay on your grind. If you lay down, that means you quit. If you quit, you die.

Always remember that we are survivors.

So pursue all of your dreams. Don’t be scared. Be fearless because fear is false evidence appearing real. Fear is all in your head. You go for it. And I mean you go for it. I promise you everything will come into place at the right time.

Latoya with her daughter Myhia

Also, you must understand that life is never going to be easy. Nobody knows this, but I cry several times a day – mostly, when I get in the shower. It is how I get my frustration out and even how I let out the hurt from some of my old scars. But once I am done, I smile, knowing that I’m here and that I am showing you three the way.

I now have a non-profit called Angels with Open Arms. We help the homeless and pregnant teens. You all sometimes come with me as we provide people with supplies and just let them know that someone cares.

It’s so important to me to give back because I will never forget life before pickles.

But pickles are way more than the product I sell. My pickles were and are the path to my power.

And the purpose behind those pickles was to be a better parent to all of you.

Mom (Latoya Moppins)
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