The past year has definitely been an emotional roller coaster. It started in February 2019 when my husband was diagnosed with a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). The history leading up to the diagnosis is lengthy and may be something I write about in the future. But for now, I will just say that it was the beginning of its own journey with a lot of questions, challenges and unknowns.
It was also during this time that my daughter was applying for colleges and scholarships. I was facing becoming an “empty nester”. She is my only child, and while I was very excited about what the future held for her, I also knew I would miss her terribly.
And it was also during this time that I started forming the idea of starting my business, Sisterhood Purses, Inc. I felt God placed this on my heart, and I needed to move forward.
It was more than a little stress. I felt like my life was turning completely upside down. There were times I wanted to get in bed and pull the covers over my head. Yet, I was able to make progress. And if I was able to do it, so can anyone else. Sometimes, we have to be willing to walk through the doors that are opened for us.
Having been through a significant amount of personal development, coaching, and counseling for my own challenges from past abuse and life in general, I knew the only way I would be able to get through all of this was to work on myself. I can only change me and how I react to and handle things, right? So that was where I needed to start. The question was where and how.
Coincidentally, I was scrolling through Instagram one day and saw an ad for the book “High Performance Habits” by Brendon Burchard. He was giving copies of this book away, and the only cost was shipping. I recognized the name and looked at my list of books I wanted to read, and it was on the list. I ordered it that day.
At the time, I really didn’t know much about Brendon except that he was a best-selling author and one of the “self-help gurus” out there. I looked him up online and started watching some of his videos. I was very impressed with what he had to say. As compared to many others in this genre, his information was founded on research and provided very tangible and specific activities to improve relationships, work, and health. It was a balanced approach to all areas of life. I received the book and loved it. I decided to sign up for his monthly subscription of online live coaching. Somewhere along the way of researching and watching his videos, I completed a questionnaire that rated myself on several areas of my life. Once I completed and submitted it, I honestly didn’t think much more about it.
Around mid-March, after subscribing to Brendon’s online program, I started receiving emails asking me about participating in his High Performance Challenge. I immediately decided they were spam and deleted them. Then, they sent a couple of text messages, again stating they wanted to speak to me about this Challenge. And again, I deleted the texts. Then one day, I had a voice mail from a lady named Tracy. She was asking me to participate in a 15-minute call with her about the Challenge. She said I had been chosen based on the questionnaire I submitted. That Brendon was looking for people for a documentary to prove that his High Performance Habits work. She had also texted me a link to her calendar. I scheduled the call.
The first call with Tracy went very well. She explained the Challenge to me, and I was very interested. This seemed like an answer to my prayers of how I could focus on changing myself to both deal with the stress in my life and grow a new business. And it was also an opportunity to possibly be in Brendon’s documentary, depending on my results. My next step was a two-hour call with her to determine if I completely qualified and if it was truly a good match for me. She informed me that there were four times during the call that if I didn’t meet the criteria, the call would be ended at that point.
We started the call as scheduled and after an hour and 45 minutes, I felt like I was doing pretty well with qualifying. Then Tracy asked me to rate myself on a scale of 1-10 on how ready and committed I would be to participating in the Challenge. I said 9. Her reply was “Nooooo”. That was the last qualifying question and I had to answer “10” to continue. I kind of laughed and told her I would never give myself a “10” on something. She asked me to explain. I told her that to me, answering 10 means that I am perfect and have no room to improve. And that I always felt like there is room to improve. She then stated that she wasn’t asking me to be perfect during the challenge, only that if my “willingness” to giving it my all was a 10. I told her if it was based on willingness, then yes, I was a 10. I officially qualified for the Challenge. If she had just accepted my answer of "9", none of the rest of this would have happened.
The Coaching Begins
I signed up for 16 weeks of individual coaching sessions and was paired up with my new coach, Shay. I was so excited to get started. Tracy could not have done a better job of matching me with the correct coach. Shay kept me going and progressing while navigating all the stormy waters of brain injury, college selection and starting a new business. (Please note, this is not a paid endorsement. Simply my personal experience.) Over the next few months, I got my business up and running, my daughter chose which college she wanted to attend and received multiple scholarships, and I started counseling to help navigate the changes my marriage was going through. Rather than staying in bed with the covers over my head, I was making progress.
Also, as part of participating in the High Performance Challenge, I received a free ticket to attend an event called Growth in Phoenix, Arizona in September. Since I was doing so well with the coaching, I decided to attend. One of the speakers at the event was a lady named Emily Sexton who owns a boutique in Raleigh, North Carolina, and sells items made by artisans in vulnerable communities. She turned this boutique into a million-dollar business in three years. The interesting part to this was that she started her retail business without really knowing what she was doing. Throughout her talk about getting her business started, I kept thinking “This is me! I have started this business and have no idea what I am really doing.”
After the event, and with some encouragement from Shay, I sent Emily an email explaining about my company and asked if she had any tips or advice for someone else starting out. I told her I was truly making it up as I went and was open to any suggestions. I received a reply from her assistant inviting me to set up a video Zoom call with Emily. I jumped at the chance.
During my Zoom call with Emily, she offered some great suggestions for the next steps for my company. While I was currently purchasing purses wholesale and selling them retail, my long-term dream was to have my own line of Sisterhood Purses that would be sold in boutiques throughout the country. My plan had been to go to New York City and talk with manufacturers in the fashion district to learn more and possibly find someone to partner with for my line. Emily advised against that for several logical reasons and offered some alternative suggestions, such as finding a brand of purses that I liked and determining if they would private label them for me. I believe that single call saved me thousands of dollars and a lot of time and headache.
Then, Emily had some really exciting news. She and her friend, Molly Stillman, were planning a retreat (the Get After It Getaway) in Nashville, Tennessee in January specifically for women entrepreneurs like me. Women that want to have a socially responsible business and sell wholesale to boutiques. I seriously couldn’t believe it. That was only two hours from where I live. And the cost was less than what the call likely saved me. How could I be so lucky? Some Divine intervention at work! I signed up immediately for the retreat.
Looking back, I thought to myself, how crazy is this? First, the book, then the coaching, then the Growth event, my call with Emily, and now a retreat on exactly what I want to do in a couple of months. Little did I know that the stars were about to align even more.
As part of signing up for the retreat, I received a one-hour coaching call prior to the event. I received an email to schedule it and was given the choice of coaching with Emily or Molly. At first, I was going to choose Emily again. But then I changed my mind and chose Molly. I thought it would be great to get to know her a little before the retreat.
When we started the coaching call, Molly asked me to share with her the background and goals for Sisterhood Purses. I filled her in, including my long-term goal of working with a manufacturer to create my own line of branded purses. I also told her that I had absolutely no idea where to start when it came to finding a manufacturer. Molly said “Hold on just a minute. I received an email a little while back from a purse manufacturer that might be helpful.” She went on to explain that when she received this email, she had no idea why they were sending it to her. She didn’t manufacture purses and didn’t know anyone looking for that. However, she saved the email and found it for me. She said it was at this moment that she knew why she had received this email. It was for me!
It turned out that the company that contacted her was in India and was called Saladi Enterprises. It’s owner is a woman that is a survivor of domestic violence! What?? And this company hires other survivors and marginalized individuals to give them an opportunity to make fair wages and provide for themselves and their families! This was seriously amazing and God’s work to bring all of this together. And would you believe that the contact person for the company was the owner’s son and his name is Moses?? Seriously!! Moses! You can’t make this stuff up.
Molly replied to the email and copied me to introduce me to Moses. Thus, began a conversation about my ideas and the type of purses that I wanted. I sent them sketches (I am not an artist, but they seemed to get the general idea), dimensions, and design features. They sent me pictures of materials and hardware based on the requests I had given them. By the end of January, they were sending me samples of my designs. Truly amazing. My very long-term goal had suddenly arrived. My head is still spinning from everything that has happened even as I write this. I am now taking orders for my purses and have my first boutique that is wanting to sell them. I am working on new designs and colors and love the creative outlet it has provided.
I guess the moral to this story is that life is all about the ups and downs. They say the Lord works in mysterious ways, but I feel He’s had my hand and guided me step by step through the past year. I still don’t know about the documentary and that is okay. At this point, I am totally trusting that what is meant to happen will happen. I am also about to finish up my second round of coaching sessions with Shay. I don’t know what all 2020 will bring, but I am ready. I just got back from Brendon's High Performance Experience, and this year is going to be extraordinary.