I dropped a real bomb in my first published blog.
The opening line, “I was 24 when my business partner died” was dramatic; it was a hook. It was how I began one of my essays when I was applying to grad school. I was on a run with my friend Jen in the midst of my entry-essay writing and she told me that I had to hook the reader in my first line. If I did, they would read on with interest and anticipation. I thought of that line the other day and I decided that would be where I would start this blog.
I realized after publishing that it wasn’t fair to leave anyone hanging; although I am always a little hesitant with explaining my experience, I am sharing a little more insight in this post.
That line, so simplified the very complex situation I found myself in during my first few years out of college. My partner, Rachel, was my compliment in so many ways. We were so grateful to have found one another; so grateful for the awesome work we were doing and the progress we were making. Our business was fun! It was successful. We couldn’t have drawn that quickbooks hockey stick better. We were hitting goals, negotiating with vendors, developing our product, selling our product and CHANGING WOMEN’S LIVES. At least that’s what it felt like. Our customers were so grateful for the products we were providing that it didn’t even feel like business, it felt like purpose.
One day, while working in our incubator space, The Baiada Center (part of our award for winning 3rd place in the business plan competition), the room felt like it was turned onto that hockey stick angle. Rachel had been having pains in her chest so she went to HUP for a scan – fairly routine for a BC survivor as she was. She returned from the results, all color lost from her face, and shared with me that her breast cancer had returned and metastasized throughout her body. In the coming days we would pack up our things and move into an office in her home. We spent the final 9 months of her life packing, shipping, selling, and praying.
A year after Rachel passed, I made the decision to let go of my ownership in the business. Her family continued the brand in her legacy and I am so grateful and proud to know it continues on. What happened to our business is what was supposed to happen to our business. And what happened for me, well, has me writing this.
time = distance
experience = strength
The final line of that entry essay:
Rachel was a magnificent human being. Her austerity and focus has directly influenced how I perform as a professional every day. I am resilient and prepared. Collaboration is beautiful; contractual relationships are complicated. I am ready today to further my understanding of people, teams and business by applying for the Organizational Dynamics program at the University of Pennsylvania.
I fear that my writing here might not sound sympathetic because I am being vague and brief, and blogging in general. The fact of the matter is shared in the formulas above; I am finally at a fair distance away from my experience to recognize the strength it gave me. I can share my story without looking away; the pangs I’ve felt many times over, I can handle them.
Rachel will likely be a name I’ll continue to share as I reflect on lessons learned, and what it means to be an entrepreneur. Giving up is never an option.