I went straight from college graduation into corporate buying at the age of 21 and spent the next 15 years climbing the professional ladder in retail and fashion. I absolutely loved my job and felt incredibly fortunate that I was able to move into leadership roles while working in a division I was passionate about: jewelry. After working for several major players, I was finally offered my dream job as a Chief Merchant, making the kind of money that could afford me and my family a very comfortable lifestyle. I thought I had finally “made it.” And yet, I found myself yearning for more.
The truth is, as I was being offered this dream job, I had also been working on a business plan for a company that would combine my expertise in design and merchandising with my passion for empowering women. I loved working with students and young people, and often spent my free hours mentoring and guest lecturing at universities on topics ranging from retail math and buying to product development and sourcing.
Because of the tough economic environment, I became increasingly concerned with the unemployment rate for young adults (GenY), and feared for the future of this highly educated yet under-skilled generation. Having paid my way through college with direct selling, I researched the entrepreneurial options for this new generation and was shocked to find a lack of evolution in the business model.
I became obsessed with understanding GenY’s values in order to create an opportunity that could help build both their bank accounts as well as their resumés. I took everything I had learned and practiced for years and decided to teach others how to run their very own businesses. Plus, not only did I not have to give up my passion for jewelry development, but I could also offer an end-customer better quality product at a fraction of the price by removing the retail layer. It was a win-win for everyone.
So, here I was, an offer in one hand for what I had thought was my dream job with the requisite paycheck, and in the other hand just a dream on paper. It was a crazy time in our lives: My husband’s company had just been acquired (which eliminated his job); my mother had just lost her battle with breast cancer one month after I returned to work from maternity leave; and we had a five-month-old baby. And yet, I wanted to say no to the new job offer and bet on a dream that could only pay me a fraction of what I was making in a now single-income household. My mom’s passing made me realize that I shouldn’t wait one more day to make that dream a reality. As crazy as it seemed to everyone we knew, my husband (being the amazing and supportive partner that he is) held my hand as we both jumped into the unknown and never looked back. It was the scariest and happiest day of my life and I wouldn’t change it for anything in the world.