(HUFFINGTONPOST) — Just over the big bridge from New Orleans, lies a city that will take you a step back in time. Some refer to Mandeville, Louisiana as a kind of Mayberry, where neighbors help neighbors and it’s not unheard of for the city attorney to take his payment in blueberry pies. The small resort town has a few stop lights, a Walmart and today, what some might call an empire — an empire that was built by Cathy Deano and Renee Maloney, two stay-at-home moms, who wanted to add a little color to their lives.
“We lived just blocks from each other,” Renee explained, “and we’d walk around the lakefront every morning and talk about things we could do. We were room mothers together, we raised funds for our community after Hurricane Katrina together, and Cathy had gotten me involved with the local arts association — but we were beginning to ask, What about us?”
“My husband is nine years older than me,” Cathy added, “and while I didn’t want to tell him I was worried that something could happen to him, I felt like if something did, I’d be falling down on my job if I couldn’t educate my son.”
“I got married at 20,” Renee continued, “and started having babies by the time I was 24. All I ever wanted was to be a great mom. But my own mother said to me one day, ‘They’re going to grow up and then what?’ And it really made me think.”