It was a peaceful, steady life. After finding a niche teaching foreign medical students how to obtain their visas at Cedars-Sinai, was in her 40s when she was unexpectedly laid off.
To make matters worse, her best friend died soon after. Left with a bit of money from his will, Barr decided to give life to an idea she had been incubating for a few years.
Without any science training, Barr was investigating natural treatments to ease the symptoms of cold sores. She visited New Age bookstores and looked up books on natural remedies and began "playing around with some herbs," she said.
Barr found some good information, including a few scientific studies, and decided to make a cold sore cream of her own. Now with no job and a bit of seed money, it was time to see if she could market her new idea.
Cold Sores Begone was born, but it wasn't an easy birth.
"Getting the business license was easy," she said. "But shopping it around, I was a deer in the front of headlights. I had no experience in this at all. I was terrified. My first pitch was almost as bad as 'you wouldn't want to buy this from me, would you?' They said yes!"
To her surprise, Cold Sores Begone had a seller—first on a consignment basis, and then as a regular retail item
That was her first big break.
The next big break came from an unlikely source—a wrong number.
A woman called Barr accidentally, and for some reason the two struck up a conversation. It turns out the woman was a member of a network group for small cosmetics manufacturers.
"It's never happened before, and it's never happened since," Barr said. "I told her what I was planning to do, and that I didn't know where to start."
The woman suggested she try one of the networking meetings. It was the beginning of a renewed career—and a six-figure income—selling natural cold sore treatments to health food stores.
"If I hadn't have lost my job, how could I ever have found another job and maintained it after what I went through?" she asked. "I will be forever greatful things happened the way they did."
Barr went through another rough patch from 2000 to 2005. Her mother died of congestive heart failure, her father had a major stroke, her brother suffered from lymphoma, and his wife developed breast cancer.
Barr took more and more time away from her product, and the business had trouble recovering.
"I never regained a foothold," she said.
Now living in Mission Viejo, Barr is working hard to reinvent herself and her busienss.
"I had to recreate how I'm selling because how you sell today is a lot different than how you might have sold five years ago," she said.
Luckily, she's resillient and resourceful. Barr has invested in her website, and has taken to social media and blogging to find new avenues of income.
"The ideas come naturally to me," she said. "I couldn't stop it if I wanted to. I'll probably be in my grave and sit straight up and say, 'oh wait, one more thing!' I have A.D.D.—it's part of my nature. And along with the pesky things that come with that are ideas, and sometimes great ones."
So armed with past success and an instinct for big ideas, Barr continues to sell her product and find new opportunities.