I have two words to describe Cigi Morrison – gracious and giving. She greets people at her Spring Street boutique with effervescent warmth and her kindness has brightened my day on more than one occasion. She’s the type of local business owner that uses her business as a platform for good, quietly giving back to the community over and over again. She’s an everyday hero.
I was glad to spend a morning with Cigi at her adorable brick bungalow; she is hilarious, authentic, and full of uplifting wisdom.
We talked about everything from her morning routine and her faith in God to how she met her fiancé, Michael…
How do you start your mornings?
I get up every morning and turn on Good Morning America!
Then I make eggs, turkey bacon, and coffee; I’ll plan my day by looking at notes on my iPhone and figuring out what I need to do. Stuff like going to the post office, bank, doing things for the store.
I get up early because I like to have my time and not be rushed. I used to wake up at the last minute, rush through getting ready, and eat breakfast in the car. It wasn’t until I turned 30 that I started waking up early and meditating on my day.
Tell me about the journey of opening your boutique.
I graduated from TTU in 2006 with major in Human Ecology (fashion merchandising) and a minor in Business. I knew I had to go to Atlanta, New York, or LA if I wanted to work in fashion. After graduation, I worked at Logan’s and Crawdaddy’s and saved every penny; I ended up moving to Atlanta eight months later.
My first job in Atlanta was as a counter girl at Estee Lauder in the mall. I was at the mall applying for a job at one of those computer stations and this beautiful woman – she was 6’3 with caramel skin; she had pearls on and smelled so good! – pulled me aside and hired me on the spot.
Years later, I landed the job I really wanted at AmericasMart, which is where I go now to buy things for my store. I was a trade show sales manager and managed the gift and home shows and also traveled to places like San Francisco, Chicago, and New York to recruit for the Atlanta show. It was what I always wanted to do and it helped prepare me to have my own store.
I was in Atlanta for eight years and loved the hustle and bustle, but I felt like something was missing. A lot of my friends stayed in Cookeville after graduation and settled down, had babies. I was almost 30 and didn’t date, I just worked all the time! I ended up quitting my job and moving back to Cookeville in April of 2013. I was supposed to go into business with someone, but they told me things were not going to work out and that’s when I started Cigi’s.
So Cigi’s wasn’t an overnight success?
Noooooo! It was a dream that was 9 years in the making! When I opened, I started out really small, almost like a pop-up store, but I was able to double the size of my store in four months.
Do you have a beauty philosophy?
I love trying new stuff too – like a Vitamin C serum I put on at night. There’s an all-natural brand called Farmacy and I use their night cream too. It’s heavy and rich and I love it. I also use Vitamin E cream that you get at The Dollar Store for a dollar a tub when my skin is feeling dry.
I’ve had little moles and freckles my whole life and the first time I went to a dermatologist I had stage 1 melanoma. I had to go to a plastic surgeon and get an area cut out and have it stitched. So, I’m really big into SPF, big hats, cover ups and umbrellas at the beach. I love to be tan though, so I get spray tans.
You have such a positive perspective; do you have a life philosophy that contributes to this?
I attribute my positivity to my mom; she says there’s always something good. It’s easy to look at the ‘something bad’ but we can just as easily focus on the ‘something good’ and not let the little bit of bad take over.
Every morning I wake up and I’m healthy. My bills are paid, I have food and clothing and all my needs are met. And so are most of my wants! I am really thankful.
My mom would also say, “Don’t look back and say, ‘ I wish I would have.’” Do it! Nothing is permanent. If you make a mistake, you make a mistake – correct it and keep going.
It was scary to quit my job and start my store. But I knew if it didn’t make it, at least I tried it – and I would always be able to find a job that paid the bills. I never want to look back and be like “oh, I wish I would have done that.” Sometimes you get older and it’s too late and there are regrets. Just do it.
You seem to have such a sincere faith; tell me more about your walk with the Lord.
I was born and raised in church and felt like we were at church every day when I was little. I’m thankful for that foundation. When I went to college I dabbled in the party scene and stopped going to church. I was in a bad relationship and when we broke up I thought it was going to define my future because the relationship failed. Looking back it seems silly because it was 0.1% of my life, but it seemed like a big deal at the time.
That was about the time I got my faith tattoo. Instead of wallowing in sadness, I threw myself back into church because I knew I needed God and His direction. I rededicated my life, started going back to church, started doing my devotions again.
Things have not always been sunshine and rainbows and butterflies but in my deepest, darkest places and in the setbacks I’ve had I just gave it to Him and said, “I can’t do this, help me.” And He did. I kept believing, kept praying, and He would answer.
I could’ve freaked out and given up so many times but I didn’t. When we keep going and keep the faith, God takes care of us. Sometimes it’s hard to trust, but because of all the times He’s come through for me, it’s not as hard for me to trust and believe.
That’s why I have a strong faith. I love God. I know even if something bad happens, it’s in His plan and it may not actually be something bad. You may look back and realize that it needed to happen. Like, if the original business deal hadn’t fallen through I wouldn’t have opened Cigi’s. It’s going to be okay. Maybe not right this minute. But it’s going to be okay.
You’re encouraging friends, running a business, planning a wedding – how do you take care of yourself?
Thank God for Michael England. Sometimes I don’t have it all together and I just want to cry because I’m a girl and girls, we can be ridiculous in our emotions and it’s so dumb and I get mad at myself for being that way and that makes me cry even more. It’s this terrible cycle.
Michael is always so encouraging and positive. When I go off the deep end, he’s there for me to tell me it’s going to be okay. We all need that person and he’s that person for me.
So how did you meet Michael?
I was a Kappa Delta in college and Michael was a Kappa Sig. Everyone knew Michael, he was the fun guy, but I never thought about dating him. Fast forward to Christmas 2015 and I’m wrapping presents with another girl at Life Church at midnight, trying to get them finished for the Christmas for Kids program.
She asked who I was dating and at that point, I felt like everyone in Cookeville was setting me up with their single friend and I was over it. I remembered Michael though, and agreed to let her give him my number.
Two days later I get this text –
“Dirty dancing…best movie ever right?”
“Yes…who is this?” (uhh, weirdo!)
“It’s Michael England!”
Then I was like, oh okay! That’s funny, and Dirty Dancing is the best movie ever!”
We ended up meeting at a charity brunch and hitting it off; he made me laugh so hard I was in tears. Then on our third date he says, “So we’re getting married right? You feel it too right?”
I said, “yeah totally” and he said “alright! Glad we got that out of the way.”
Six months (longest six months of my life) later he pulled up in my driveway looking strange. He was really pale and didn’t get out of the truck and then he honked his horn at me. Finally, he gets out and one knee hits the driveway.
All I could say was “Is this real? Are you foreal? Is this real?” He asked me if I wanted to spend the rest of my life with him and I said yes!
I was at a point in my life where I thought I would be by myself forever and I was okay with it. I was happy with my house, my store, my wonderful friends. Then Michael England came along and changed all that. I love being with him. He is my best friend.
I LOVE THAT STORY!!! Anything else you want to share?
Be true to yourself and don’t settle. That’s a big thing. Don’t settle in jobs, relationships, life. We tend to settle even if we aren’t happy because we like to be safe and have a security blanket. But there’s no growth if you stay where you are.
What you settle for and what you accept is what you’re going to get. That’s a life motto of mine, “don’t settle.”
Thanks so much, Cigi for sharing with us!
Cigi and I wanted the chance to treat you guys – so we’re doing a giveaway!
Just comment below with your favorite part of the interview (make sure you leave your email address!!) and you’ll be entered for a chance to win an Ashley Brooke Designs mug and notepad, plus a pair of adorable deer earrings.
No purchase necessary to win. The winner will be chosen at random on Friday, March 03 and notified by email; one entry per person please!
UPDATE: CONGRATS to Jessica Stamps, winner of the giveaway! You’ve got pretty things coming your way, check your email if you haven’t already.