The cover of the latest Franchise Business Review featured a member of Oklahoma Christian University’s Board of Trustees, Shannon Wilburn. She is a co-founder and CEO of Just Between Friends, a company which was awarded Top Innovative Franchises and Top 200 Franchises in the U.S.
In 1997, Just Between Friends began with only two friends, Daven Tackett and Shannon Wilburn, in a living room in Tulsa, OK. Over a span of twenty years, the business grew to 153 franchises within the U.S. and Canada. The Today show, ABC National News, CBS Early Show and others have featured the company. The company continued to grow and Forbes magazine honored it as one of the nation’s top franchises in 2014.
Wilburn said the franchise allows families to purchase children’s clothing, toys, games, baby items and maternity materials at a discounted price, while also benefitting the consignors by giving them the opportunity to earn money back.
According to Wilburn, Just Between Friends is a small business which appears like a large business.
“The revenue generating to the corporate office is not significant,” Wilburn said. “But, if you are measuring success by kingdom things, there are a million families in our data base—a million families we are helping save and make money. Around 60-70 percent of our income goes back into the families’ pockets.”
In 2013, Wilburn joined Oklahoma Christian’s board of trustees. According to Risa Forrester, Oklahoma Christian’s vice president for admissions and marketing, Wilburn’s invaluable experience makes her a master marketer.
“I was thrilled to have her,” Forrester said. “She is a professional, inspirational woman with an important parental perspective, since her daughter is in college. She always digs deep for the why behind what we do.”
Vice President and General Counsel Stephen Eck also said Wilburn “is a phenomenal board member. She is bold and never afraid to ask the hard questions.”
Wilburn said being on the board allowed her the opportunity to impact Oklahoma Christian. However, she said she has not always been as bold as she is today.
“In 2011, it was time to make a change and re-organize the company,” Wilburn said. “I feel like it was a turning point for me in my thought process about leadership. My sister said, ‘You are not running this business by yourself. You are yoked with the Lord and when you do not know what to do He is going to be there to help.’”
Wilburn and her husband Mitch attend Park Plaza Church of Christ in Tulsa, OK, where Mitch is the preaching minister.
“Her heart, her life, her walk, her profession, it is all her ministry,” Forrester said. “She has prayed for me and with me on many special occasions.”
Using her marketing knowledge, asking the big questions and taking time to listen and learn, Wilburn said she hopes to help bring more students to Oklahoma Christian.
“The more students you have the more opportunities for others to know the Lord,” Wilburn said. “It costs a lot to attend a Christian university but I think what people are paying for is the opportunity and access to likeminded people. My time on the board is focused on getting people to think beyond the Church of Christ and think more long-term.”