(Disclaimer: despite the title there are actually a handful a men that are not TOO bad :) )
As most of you know, I have my own business. I started it 3 years ago. It was a slow start. That is for sure. However, I have been amazingly lucky to have the support of the most amazing people.
About 6 months ago, I was really frustrated with the lack of profitability for my business. A friend, one of the few guys that might be worth listening to, encouraged me to revamp my business strategy. I have not looked back and have never been so busy.
Realizing that my business is starting to grow rapidly and knowing there was this great organization (name omitted) that help businesses with advice, I decided I would be stupid not to utilize this free resource. So I made an appointment to learn what I needed to know to keep my sanity as things take off.
So I met with this guy, a retired executive, we will call him Bob. I was excited to see what wisdom I could glean from this meeting. He was a gentile and affable sort. After telling me a bit about himself and his career highlights, he said, “Now let’s talk about you.” Let’s, I thought. I was ready to tell him about my business and the direction it was going. I knew Bob was going to be a wealth of information.
However, instead of practical information, encouragement or constructive criticism, I got asked how old my children were. What? I tell him. He smiled so kindly and warmly that I was totally unprepared for what came out of his mouth next. What he said to me was, “Oh, I see. At the ages they are now, they [my children] still require a lot of time. Running a business is a serious commitment. It is unlikely for you to balance the demands of home and what it realistically takes to run a real business. While you might make more money doing this, perhaps getting a job that pays $15/hour might be a better fit. Yes, it is less money, but you are not working so hard for it.”
Then he gave me a lovely smile as if to say, “I bet your husband thinks you’re a pip.” I thanked him for his time. Made it to my car and burst into tears. In 30 minutes this man erased 3 years of confidence I had built in my business. In 30 minutes this guy made me feel my worth did not extend past the doors my house. But as opposed to being outraged, I was now full of doubt. He had made me feel like an utter fraud. In 30 minutes.
Now, after some contemplation, I am not sure what I am more angry about. At this man, trying to put me into some antiquated box HE created for me… or for me letting him.
So I picked myself up and stopped whimpering and reminded myself, in three short years I have:
A business that is running in the black, most businesses do not make it this far
Sweet Cheeks has been sold in goodness knows how many states and six countries
Sweet Cheeks was in the celebrity swag bags for a VH-1 event
I was approached by a company in France about doing a private label
I have been taking on meetings with stores left and right (Whole Foods among them)
I have an amazing base of really loyal customers that have put up with me raising prices.
And I did all of this, while being a mom, AND until 2 weeks ago… homeschooling.
And this old fart wants to tell me what I can and cannot handle. This man who went to work and came home to a wife (that I am sure handled the kids, the cooking and the cleaning) to bourbon – neat poured for him and slippers waiting in the library. This man wants to tell me about work life balance. WTH?
I wash the clothes and clean the house. I am the primary parent and I was, until recently, a homeschooler to boot. I garden, make my own cleaners and do all the cooking. And guess what, I pour my own damn bourbon and get my own slippers. And… AND… I run a business.
I get you don’t understand, Bob. You can’t. Because you are not a woman. You have no idea that on your best day, on you very, very best day…you could have never kept up with me. Ever.
So watch out. Here I come, and hundreds of thousands others like us Bob. Oh… and the glasses are on the shelf. You can get you own bourbon. Just sit and look pretty Bob, us women… yeah we got it from here.
So thank you… thank you every one of you that has helped me. Encouraged me. Told me what I could do, NOT what I could not. Those of you that, taught me. Those of you that set examples for me. Those of you that paved the way. Those of you that never thought I needed a box. Thank you. Raise a glass… Bob’s pourin’.