For about the last 23 years, I’ve been mostly in the business of bringing up, guiding, and nurturing two very important humans alongside my husband who I call, “C”. Those two humans are our daughters that are now in their twenties and I often refer to my being their mom as my greatest calling in life.

Backing up a few years….

C and I married in the summer of 1994 and we both went on to finish college at Delta State University. The degree in accounting I obtained helps me today with things like organizational skills and I joke that I can spell “debit” and “credit” – a career in the business world was just far from what I was meant to do.

Looking back on my younger years, I loved art. I drew and took art classes, made handmade cards for friends and relatives and perused magazines just to pull out pages featuring ads that spoke to me. As a teenager, my bedroom walls were plastered with cool art, ads, and things I had drawn…and a massive Swatch watch. It never really occurred to me that my love for art could turn in to a job. So after high school, I guess I mentally closed the book on art. I hardly ever drew anything but I pushed through and got that degree in accounting.

And I did work at an accounting firm…for five whole days. 

Fast forward to our first born and being a mom…. Life was wonderful. I even found a niche part-time job teaching computer classes to teachers across the state. For about eight years, I worked six to eight days a month in different areas of Mississippi teaching things from Microsoft Excel to basic file organization. In that time, C and I had our second daughter and I had started designing and printing my own kids’ birth announcements and birthday party invitations.

After requests from friends who had seen the invitations I was designing, I started my art business. It was, admittedly, a side hustle – even though I always strived to do my very best to provide excellent products while also connecting with my clients. That was about 15 years ago and my hands were full during that time, but my heart was overflowing. I was getting to be a mom and provide a service that was fun for me and I was enjoying getting to know my growing customer base. I even started calling myself an artist.

Every day was a blessing and there were things to celebrate – big and small.

The years flew by with the girls in school – we stayed involved in school and extra-curricular activities and we developed a love of traveling. Over about seven summers, we managed to travel to and experience all fifty states with the girls and C’s parents. Our family motto became, “collect memories”. So, in the same breath I say “time flies”, I can also wander through those memories and savor the experiences, the moments, and the milestones. 

Today, I’m a couple of years in to a new stage of life – the empty nest. A wise friend told me many years ago that I had better have something to devote my time to after our two girls were out of the house. I’ve thought of that conversation over and over since our youngest graduated from high school.

My wise friend was totally correct. In the spring of 2019, so much of the involvement I had with our girls and their activities ended. Of course, I’m still a mom, but the role changes and that’s how it’s supposed to be. Even still, it was a very bittersweet time for me and I hadn’t been prepared for my mixture of emotions. There was such joy and excitement that both of our girls were off tackling their own lives and interests (and very independently, I must add) coupled with a profound sadness and grief that this stage of life was ending. But, as with other times of grief in my life, like the multiple miscarriages we experienced over the years, I re-focused on positive vibes and allowed the grief to pass but remain a memorable detail I’ve been sure to share with other moms approaching this new stage.

It was a sweet ending to a new beginning.

And, I found myself so thankful for my “little job” as I have so often referred to my work. I told myself I intended to make a pointed effort to ramp-up my business and for the first time, really work at it as a full-time job.

Then, late that same spring, I had an urgent medical issue that had to be dealt with through biopsies and surgery. In the end, all was fine and I was able to frame it all as yet another chance to re-focus on all the positives and all the beauty of life. Everyday life. Ebbs and flows, ups and downs, goodness and sadness….all of it combined.

As I am re-branding my business and actually embracing this stage of life, I will be here not only continuing to create custom designs for stationery, invitations, t-shirts, events, and party products, but also adding new products and offerings.

Stay tuned! I want Mission Celebrate to mirror what I feel is a life mission for me now….a mission to celebrate this wonderful life each day as it comes to me. I’ll be sharing more of my life experiences along the way. C and I are known to find some crazy deals – like the 4,000 pound concrete gorilla we acquired in the fall of 2020…. but that’s a story for another day! Stick around, let me know if you need stationery or invitations, and take time to share with me some of the ways you are celebrating life.

Every day is a celebration,

Leslie

16 thoughts on “Meet Leslie

  1. Jennifer Hughes says:

    Love this! Love you! Love your artwork! So glad to have so many fun memories with you, your cards & stationery, and band!

  2. Beth says:

    What a beautiful website! It definitely portrays your amazing work. I’ve been the blessed recipient of your work, and I’m so excited for where “mission celebrate” will take you!

  3. Aaron K. Woodard says:

    Hello Les, I just wanted to let you know that it was really nice getting to know a little bit about your life and as I’ve told you many, many a time before, I am extremely proud of you and all you continue to accomplish!! Keep up the great work and I LOVE you very, very much!! Best sister ever!!!

    • Leslie Gonce says:

      Thank you, A! So sweet and I love you very, very much, too!! Thanks for your feedback as I’ve been working on the new website and beginning the bronco posts 🙂

  4. Martha Walker says:

    Hoping to solve a problem, I found a contact number for Mission Celebrate. I dialed the number and I had a very pleasant surprise. The voice on the other end was Leslie. She wasn’t what I expected, instead I had reached someone that was friendly and understanding. What I had thought was a problem, she reassured me that everything was solved and my grandson’s uniform items would be delivered to the school. The business world could really use more people like Leslie.

  5. Pam Bodie says:

    Leslie, your new website is beautiful. You have always been an inspiration to me with your beautiful work. Best of Luck with Mission Celebrate. Take care. Much love to you and the family.

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