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Marcie Manfredonia: Remarkable ‘Risk It Or Regret It” Story of Resilience and Entrepreneurship

The Debbie Nigro Show

Release Date: 05/10/2024

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I love gritty and gutsy women who make it in business against all odds. I am one, and so I am always drawn to the same. 

 

We all have stuff. We all have crap. We all have horrific things that happen to us emotionally and financially that make us think, how the hell am I ever getting out of this? Often you don't even know where to begin.

 

Sometimes just listening to someone else’s story lends a clue. Especially when it’s a real-life lesson in resilience and survival. This story I’m about to share is very powerful. Because it’s about the power of believing in yourself.

 

Today you're going to hear the extraordinary story of Marcy Manfredonia. This now successful entrepreneur rose from extreme emotional and financial hardship. You will be inspired. She turned nothing and I do mean NOTHING, into something else!  

Three Successful businesses now and counting. National Maintenance, Custom Candle Co. and CBD Live Natural, with plans for plans for more entrepreneurial ventures in the hopper. She’s Unstoppable. 

Most amazing is that she never even learned how to read or write as she had to drop out of school young to take a job to help support her family.

 

This is one of the most authentic interviews I have ever done with one of the most authentic people I have ever met. If you’re not a Marcie fan after listening or reading, I’ll eat my hat.  

I do think you should listen to this one vs read about it. Why? Well, let’s just say Marcie’s story told in her deep voiced Bronx Italian accent might just remind you to never judge a book by its cover. I’ll take the liberty to say that because I’m also Italian (American), have been judged wrong along the way by many, and also have a pretty deep voice for a female. I often talk a little too NY fast for some, but if you want to hear two gritty and gutsy female entrepreneurs talkin’ no BS about how to push through when life gets tough - you should listen.

Also, in the spirit of May being Mental Health Awareness Month and knowing full well how many people struggle with emotional, financial and relationship challenges – I felt showcasing Marcie’s story would encourage a whole lot of people - to never stop believing in themselves!

I had met Marcie some years ago at an event held at her cool store in Bedford Hills, NY. She held a sort of networking party and I was invited by a lovely friend so I went. I was in awe of her beautifully designed store filled with magical candles and gifts on one side (Custom Cando Co.) and on the other an entire classy line of CBD and related products (CBD Live Natural) The party was set up father back in the store where there was a bar set up and beautiful appetizers and art.

Then there was Marcie. To say Marcie has a presence that stands out would be an understatement. She’s tall and attractive, always dressed a little sparkly, and has a unique deep voice with a Bronx Italian accent. She bubbles with enthusiasm, confidence, and compassion.

That day I overheard her telling another guest about her years of suffering from fibromyalgia and anxiety and trying every possible way to get out of pain to no avail - until her son suggested she try CBD which she didn’t understand and was afraid of but tried out of desperation. It worked and changed her whole life. Thus, her decision to start her CBD Live Natural store to try and help others get out of pain. Marcie spends a lot of time trying to help others.

In fact, I learned it was at a American Cancer Society fundraiser that she threw to raise them some money, that a women from Whole Foods flipped out over her table decorations. Marcie made impressive centerpieces filled with candles flowers and candy out of recycled pink bottles that her son found in NYC which she cut and polished. When that someone said wow you should make this into a business - Marcie did. Her company Custom Candle Co. will take any bottle of wine or champagne that represents a memorable occasion to you (wedding anniversary, birth) and cut it and polish it and fill it with any one of her long-lasting great smelling candles in any scent you want. Marcie’s candle business has sustainability at the core and all her candles are made from soy and recyclables - often bottles donated from restaurants so they don’t go to the landfill.

Marcie and I only spoke briefly that day at her party, but we had one of those good energy connections and both agreed we should stay in touch.  

But years went by, until last month in a clothing store in Scarsdale, NY. I heard her voice. Blocked by racks of clothes that kept me from seeing her, I thought, hey that's Marcie from the party that I met, and I loved. So, I went over to her, and she was like “Debbie what happened to you?” “I always thought we should connect it again”. “I even asked my friend who invited you what ever happened to that woman?”

So, we start talking, and I asked her to share a highlight of what’s going on with her, and she mentioned she’d just won a bid for a job she was excited about. Who knew she owned a big construction company too?

Wow I’m thinking there’s a lot more to this woman than Candles and CBD. So, I’m telling her a little about my ventures and of course my show where I always feature innovators and she said, “I'll be a sponsor”. And I realized at that moment we were a perfect business match.

She is the epitome of gritty and I'm the epitome of gutsy and we both always come from the heart. Together businesswise I thought, wow we could be dangerous. (Dangerously fun too.)

I understood Marcie’s businesses, but I wanted to understand Marcie better, so I invited her to sit in the studio with me. I always try and go above and beyond to help people who support me and often end up making exciting strategic business matches for them they didn’t see coming. But I like to understand the person I’m dealing with first, not just the business.  

Like me, Marcie lost her dad when she was young. Never easy. I was 23 but she was only 16 when her dad passed.

“What happened was I didn't really go to school. I had to help my mom take care of my dad. So, growing up it wasn't easy because I had to go get a job. I worked at Woolworths, McDonald's whatever I could do.

When my dad passed away, I felt like, now what am I going to do? I met my first husband and we got married at 18 because I thought I needed somebody to take care of me. And I always felt stupid because I didn't go to school. I couldn't spell or read. And then I got into that relationship. I stood 18 years, but it wasn't a good relationship. ‘

“And I always heard, you're no good, you can't do nothing. “

“You go through the battering. And you stay, and I stood just to raise my children.”

Marcie one of 4 girls herself, had four boys. Her mother was a widow and was a stay-at-home mom, Italian, typical, back in the day, whose official job was housewife and who did her best at that job, but then her mother got breast cancer.  

“I think I was thirty-three. And I juggled and took care of her, going back and forth to chemo. I hate to get emotional. I'm sorry. I think it's okay. I would have my four little boys; one I would have on the backpack of me. I would walk, go there, take care of her, get my kids to school, and it was a lot. It was a lot. And I just stood until the day she passed. That was the day I knew I was able to have the strength to leave my ex-husband. “

About to be a single mom, scared to death but knew she had to leave the abusive relationship. Like many women in abusive relationships, it’s hard to explain it to anybody. Which is why I’m talking about this loud on the radio during this conversation during Mental Health Awareness Month. Thank God the world is talking about these kinds of crazy awful situations now and encouraging people to talk about these situations and get some help because they are not alone. There was no help back in the day.

“You buried this stuff, and if you talked about it , what happens is people think you're crazy, or you have those older people, your family would say, you know, just take it, where else are you going to go, you have a house, you have a roof over your head, and that's what they would always say, and then you would think to yourself, maybe I should be a little nicer, maybe I do deserve it, and you start thinking that, but when you try to get away, it's even harder. I always found myself going back. You know you don't want to go to shelters and sleep on the floor and so you always find yourself going back. And I was so I was at the breaking point, and I had to get out even though I realized I have no backup plan. But I knew if I was gonna get out of it and get my kids out of it, I had to do it.”

Talk About A Risk It or Regret It! Moment.

Marcie went and got financial assistance. She wanted to get a small little apartment. She was on public assistance for six months. But she said she felt belittled.

“I hated going down there. I had to go down to 61st Street. The kids would sit on the floor while we waited to get a check. The only reason why I did that because my boys had asthma and I needed the health insurance. One day I went back down and said, listen, I don't want to be on this because if I stay on public assistance, I'm going to be like everybody else. Could I just have the health insurance? The guy said it’s all or nothing. And I don't know where the guts came, but I said, then it's nothing.”

And just like that with four little kids with no money, Marcie borrowed money from a Shylock to get though. She juggled and paid it back.

Marcie told me she called a job ad for a power washing company she saw in the paper and when the guy answered the phone she said,

“I'll never forget this in my life, if you give me this job, I really need it because I want my son to go to St. Teresa's to be able to go to a public or Catholic school and I need some extra money. I promise you, three weeks I'll work for you for free. Just give me the opportunity. I don't really spell it or write well, but I can sell anything if I believe in it. I made more money in those three weeks for him than he had with eight girls in the office.”

But the guy kept not paying her commissions, so after a year Marcie proposed they go partners and she buy into his company. He laughed at her. So, she quit and opened her own power washing company. Cleaning and Power Washing. Her first company!

“I bought a broken-down truck and a power washer, and my son Santino left school he was gonna go be an accountant, but he had to come out of school at 16 to help me. I had like one of those little Jeeps, because I had to make the kids go to school in the morning. The only way I was able to do the estimates was to drive around Manhattan at night and look at the awnings and write down the prices. And the boys were asleep, so I'd go home in the morning, dress them, and bring them to school. After getting the jobs my son would go out and clean awnings. And we did that for a year and we started making good money. But then, winter came...

Then the truck she owned was in a bad accident and she lost everything.

So, Marcie went to a Shylock again and borrowed money. And off she went again to figure out how to survive. With her never wavering belief in herself, and with powerful passion to create a better life for herself and her kids, Marcie Manfredonia figured out how to do way more than power washing.  

“So, then I said oh my god what am I gonna do? So, I started doing painting and my first contract was Rite Aid and I worked with them for 10 years. I did all their painting, I did all their plumbing, I did their emergency services, I did all their work. I was their GC. They came to me for everything, which was great. That's how I started building up my company. Then I went to work with the USPS, postal service also. That's how I met my second husband, because I hired him to work for me.”

“I used to hire painters to watch them paint, sit outside and watch them figure out their man hours. Because see, when you don't spell and read really well, you're very visual. I could look at something, tell you how long it takes, and I would just watch them, see what they use, then I would watch somebody else. Then when we got the concrete, I would go out there, watch them flow concrete. I just learned just by watching.”

 

Marcie Manfredonia learned a LOT about construction and maintenance and business in general. She’s very visual so she learned by watching others do. And she hired people to do the things she needed help with, like read and type for her.

Now 25 years later, Marcie’s company Nationwide Maintenance is a huge success, and she employs a whole lot of people.

Her company does design and remodeling, custom woodwork, floor tile installation, flood and fire damage, window replacement, general repairs, painting, plumbing, electrical construction, cleanups, demo.

Her company also does exterior services; asphalt and blacktop, concrete, driveway, masonry, stonework, fence installation, painting, retaining walls, retaining walls alone, please, tree removal and pruning, drainage systems, roofing, trash removal, demo, power washing and landscape design.

Her newest additional service is rodent prevention. Helping restaurants stay compliant. They seal things up vs having ongoing pest control.

Marcie is also an award-winning female entrepreneur constantly being honored for her business success and her integrity in business.

I’d never bet against her.

“When you can talk from your heart to sell something, and you have passion that’s what matters, she said.  I never was one of those people that could go to the door and sell a vacuum if I didn't believe in the vacuum.”

And if you know me, I won’t take a sponsor on my media platform that I don't believe in.

I not only believe in Marcie Manfredonia I am more than proud to represent her and her companies. She’s still the first one on a job and the last one to leave with all her endeavors.

A triple threat entrepreneur with three companies you might want to check out.

Nationwide Maintenance, fix something anywhere in NY NJ or CT, I'm calling her first. nationwidemaintenance.com.

Nationwide Maintenance - Nationwide Maintenance is a full-service Facility Maintenance and Construction Company that helps manage and maintain the day to day operations of your business. Their WBE, WBNEC & School Certified Construction staff is fully licensed and insured and ready to serve you in your maintenance and construction needs. Conveniently located in Bedford Hills in Westchester County NY and accessible to the NY CT NJ Tri-State area.

Custom Candle Co. On Site and online

CBD Live Natural - On Site and online

All her companies and her offices are on North Bedford Road in Bedford Hills, NY. Her custom candle company shops nationwide. If she’s there when you stop in, she’ll come out to help you herself to help you.

This woman is a true testament to what I’ve always know about people. I truly believe each of us is born with an innate gift. Something that comes naturally to you that you take for granted.

For Marcie it’s that she’ sees’ things and then just ‘acts’!

Recently deeply saddened and pained by the end of her second marriage which lasted 18 years, Marcie admitted to days ‘you had to drag me off the floor’ but I knew that tomorrow was going to be a better day. And you don't know what tomorrow's going to bring. “  

A good example is that surprise phone call Marcie got one day to be on Bravos ‘Below Deck’ TV Show. LOL Talk about a divorce distraction! You can catch her in the last episode of the season.

Marcie’s doing really good again these days. Actually, better than good. She’s doing great and she’s full of self-love.

“I finally found out who I am. I'm in control of my own life. Nobody can tell me what to do and make decisions. I feel peaceful. I love that I can do what I do best, my businesses.”

Her advice to others who may be struggling with a life circumstance?

“All I want to do is help people know that there is tomorrow. Whatever you got to do today to get through it, like I said I had days you had to drag me off the floor, but I knew that tomorrow was going to be a better day. Just never stop believing.”

“Never be afraid to try new things or be afraid to fail, because with faith, hard work, and dedication, you can accomplish anything.”

-Marcie Manfredonia.

 

Enjoy this full show podcast of my live conversation with Marcie Manfredonia on The Debbie Nigro Show. It’s about as good a story as you could hear about making it against all odds.