Mother, widow, hard worker, entrepreneur — all words that describe Linda Lankford, but the main one she wants to be known as is a Christian.
Lankford is known by many as the office manager of Pump Springs Baptist Church in Harrogate, Tennessee. Her journey didn’t begin there and may not end there, but she said she has let God lead her to “where I need to be and when I need to be there.”
A resident of Harrogate since she was eight years old, Lankford has also attended church at Pump Springs since then.
Her life took a tragic turn when her husband died and she was widowed at age 20. Her daughter Tonya was only three months old. Left on her own with an infant, she babysat for several years until her daughter was old enough to go to school. Then, she got a job at Ellen Myers, where her daughter went to school.
“God led me to it,” she said. “It was great — I was off when she was off and it worked out well.”
Next she got a job with local dentist Dr. Chuck Tompkins, just at the time that she and her daughter both needed some dental work done.
Eventually she ended up at Pump Springs. She will mark 18 years there in September.
She had a hidden talent, though, that had been her hobby.
“I’m creative and love making things,” she said. “I had made jewelry for my family and myself and then it blossomed.”
She started selling her jewelry for some extra income. Her first big show was the craft show at Middlesboro Mall in 2015. Once her jewelry was introduced to the public, she has stayed busy with her hobby.
Much of her work is stretch bracelets, but she also makes earrings, necklaces, sets of jewelry, rings and lanyards. It ranges in style from casual with wooden beads to glitzy with lots of bling. Lankford will custom make jewelry as well.
“People can place orders for whatever color they want,” she said. “I can match a favorite outfit.”
She’s made jewelry for prom and weddings also. “Really anything people need,” she added.
Lankford has been told that her prices are too low, she said but added, “I want everybody to be able to afford what I make.”
Her unique jewelry can be found at The Well book and gift store at Pump Springs, at The Palace in Downtown Middlesboro or you can visit her Facebook page, LL Creations by Linda Lankford.
She has so much going on that she does get help. “My sisters and other family members help me — sometimes we have a jewelry making get together at my mom’s and everyone helps. We visit, eat and make jewelry.”
Lankford has a son-in-law and “three beautiful grandchildren” in addition to her daughter. By overcoming her obstacles, she’s a success story to many, but not, she said, without God’s help.
“He puts you where you need to be when you need to be there,” she said. “He took care of us.”
Reach Marisa Anders at 423-254-5588 or on Twitter @newsgirl88.