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L’OBSERVATEUR welcomes sales strategist Dee Washburn

LAPLACE — L’OBSERVATEUR is proud to introduce Denise “Dee” Washburn as its new sales strategist. Dee is full of energy, and she is excited to grow businesses in the community through a personal approach to print and digital advertising.

Dee was raised in Harahan by a Cajun mother and a Honduran father who boiled the best crawfish in town. She has a twin brother named Dean.  For the past 28 years, she has resided in St. John the Baptist Parish with her husband, Michael Washburn. They have one son, Garrett Tyler Washburn, and a miniature schnauzer named Groot Clubberlang Washburn.

“St. John Parish has always been important to me because it’s the parish that I live in,” Dee said. “I’ve never worked in the parish but have always wanted to. I’ve always wanted to get to know more people in the parish because I like being in front of people. I think it brings out the best of me.”

Dee was very shy growing up, and people who knew her as a child are amazed at who she’s become. Working in retail helped her break free from her shell.

Over the years, she has worked at almost every mall in the surrounding parishes. Her prior sales experience has focused on the jewelry and cosmetics industries.

Her first job at the age of 16 was working at Jewelry Jungle in the Clearview Mall. Every summer, she would travel to Florida with her cousin and help her open new jewelry stores.

The next stop on her journey was working in the jewelry section of the family-owned Godchaux’s store in the Lakeside Mall. Dee was studying jewelry design at Delgado at the time, and her knowledge of the industry impressed renowned jewelry designer Mignon Faget during a chance encounter. Not long after, it was announced that Mignon Faget was bringing her jewelry line into Godchaux’s, and she wanted Dee to run the counter.

It was the start of a decade-long working relationship with Mignon Faget. Dee started out in a beautiful gazebo structure between the men’s and ladies’ departments at Godchaux’s in Metairie. A few years later, she and Mignon moved to an even more beautiful Godchaux’s location at the Esplanade Mall in Kenner, which was brand new at the time.

“Mignon was like my mom. She took really good care of me and devoted a lot of time to me. I did the same for her. I wanted to make sure her jewelry sold, but I also wanted people to know the story behind it,” Dee said.

It felt like déjà vu when representatives from Macy’s approached her at her jewelry counter. Macy’s wanted Mignon Faget in their store, but only on the condition that Dee would come, too.

It started out well, as many of Dee’s clients from Godchaux’s followed her to the new Macy’s. She started to get discouraged when she realized she couldn’t spoil her customers by having their jewelry ready for pick-up the same day they placed the order. Special orders now took six-to-eight weeks, making it hard to maintain customers who needed custom pieces for upcoming events.

It was time for change, and Dee’s next opportunity arose when Estée Lauder came to Macy’s. Dee was working in cosmetics when she met her husband, Michael, who was working as a security manager.

Dee was in her 30s, and no one expected her to get married. Her father had just passed away and left her with the promise that he would send someone to her. The first night they went on a date, she knew Michael had to be hand-picked by her father. They were engaged in less than a month, and nearly 30 years later, he is still her best friend who keeps her grounded like no other.

Their son, Garrett, attended St. Timothy’s Preschool and St. Joan of Arc Catholic School in LaPlace. He graduated from St. Charles Catholic High School and went on to become part of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette’s Class of 2019.

Garrett now works as a geography teacher and soccer coach at Southside High School in Lafayette.

Staying home during the COVID-19 pandemic was a difficult transition for Dee, and she felt like she lost part of herself without her career. Her spirit was restored when she had the opportunity join the fundraising campaign to re-elect Judge J. Sterling Snowdy.

“I had the best time of my life doing that. That’s when I knew I can’t stay home anymore. I want to be in front of people. I want to help people, and I really want to do something for this parish,” Dee said. “I’m most excited about meeting the people in the parish and helping them make their business bigger and brighter than it has ever been. I’ve learned so many things working here, just in a few weeks. I learned I can still do it.”

Dee Washburn can be reached at 985-652-9545 or by emailing denise.washburn@lobservateur.com.