WARNER ROBINS, Ga. — Two years ago, Cortese Walker and her husband started a T-shirt business in their house.
After two months of being in business, the couple outgrew the space and they were forced to move to a location in the back of a building they shared with another company.
On June 1, Love Leo Vinyl and Apparel moved again to its current location at 2301 Watson Boulevard and on Wednesday, Walker and her family celebrated the store’s growth with a ribbon cutting.
“We do ribbon cuttings to celebrate new businesses, to celebrate new locations, and to celebrate new members,” April Bragg with the Robins Regional Chamber said.
Walker and her husband married when she was serving in the Air Force. After going through six back surgeries, she was forced to relinquish her active duty status.
“It was just a matter of what to do now,” she said
Walker tried getting into photography, going back to school and getting involved in volunteering with the school system but nothing stuck.
“But I just knew there was something more for me,” Walker said.
After 21 years of marriage and two daughters together, 10-year-old Nyla and 16-year-old Zoe, Walker said she is proud of how far she has come after the Air Force with the help of her husband’s support every step of the way.
“I’m just glad to still be a veteran and still be working, and still be able to employ other people, and to still be an asset,” Walker said. “Because a lot of times when you’re a veteran you don’t feel like you matter anymore.”
Walker says she remembers having a reoccurring dream as a child where she was behind a cash register ringing people up. She says now that she is living her dreams, she hopes she can inspire others to fulfill theirs too — no matter how small.
“Now seeing that come into fruition. Like yeah, I am a cashier I run my own cash register every day, but I run it as an owner,” she said.
Most importantly, she says she hopes her journey will encourage her daughters to defy stereotypes and live out their goals.
“They don’t remember my active duty days, they don’t remember me doing anything. I want them to know like, I can do whatever like this woman is a survivor,” Walker said. “I want them to know, like there’s no limits.”
“I’m really thankful for you guys to come to our ribbon cutting. I’m so thankful,” Nyla said as tears fell from her eyes.