Unless I get to sit down and have coffee with you, many people don’t get the chance to hear where my partner, Allison, and I came from and how Vivid Ribbon came to be. Have you ever been beaten down verbally, told that you weren’t good enough, made to feel insignificant, had something you worked so hard at taken away from you? I have. I’ll share that story with you and hope that it inspires you to continue following your dreams and know that you are good enough.
At the age of 20 I was introduced to the world of entrepreneurship where I met and got the chance to work and learn with highly successful people. One of the things I’ll always remember is a man, named Jason, said to me, “What is your WHY? What is your compelling reason that you are here? If you don’t have one, you’re not going to be successful.” Wow. He was referring to being a business owner. Working for yourself. He was right. If your reason for getting into business for yourself is not strong enough, at the first sign of a challenge to your business, you’ll quit.
In 2011, it was the highlight of my working career. I had a great job with amazing challenges, a great reputation within the company, I had a high-level position working directly with the owners, I was really enjoying what I was doing and was enjoying managing a successful team. I enjoyed it until November 16, 2011. It was a Wednesday.
On this day, I was pulled into a meeting with one of the owners and the Operations Manager. The meeting was made under the pretense that we were going to discuss a new position that I was asked to fill. Instead, the owner proceeded to rip me to shreds, telling me that I was just overhead, that I shouldn’t have promised training to my new employee, that I’m not the leader that they thought I was etc. He continued to berate me for the next 20 minutes and I was not allowed to speak. Instead, he wanted me to write down the points he was firing off at me. At the end of the meeting, I was not asked for my feedback and he got up and said, “Well, we’re all men here. Let’s shake hands and let’s move forward from this.” Then I walked out. I had to put on a smile as if nothing happened and that everything was okay. I knew that this was not the kind of company I wanted to work for so that was the first day of my exit out.
I consider that day as the worst day of my life.
Why? Here I was making money, probably over a million and change for the company, the customers loved me and how I would work with my team to get their projects done above expectations, I helped innovate products that added value to the architectural industry, and then to be treated like that? I deserved better. I put in close to 2.5 years of my time into this company to help it grow and just like that, it was ripped away from me. Never before in my life have I been spoken to and berated like the way I was in that meeting. I was made to feel so insignificant and he wanted to remind me he was the boss and I was going to do what he told me to do. My stomach felt like it was churning and I felt sick immediately after that meeting. No one should ever have to go through something like that because no one should ever communicate with another person like that. It felt so frustrating that I was helping him build his company and I knew that after I left the company, they had everything and I walked away with nothing. Or so I thought.
It was a few months after leaving that company that Allison and I had a long chat about our future and we knew that we wanted to work for ourselves but weren’t too sure as to what that was going to be. After much discussion, we agreed that whatever we were going to do, it had to be a passion of ours, otherwise it would not work out. In other words, we needed a compelling reason to go into business for ourselves. We needed to know our “WHY?” We both knew that we needed an outlet for our creativity and thought that photography would be an excellent opportunity as I have been doing photography non-professionally for the last 8 years and with both of us having a background in business, why not turn it into a business? This is when Vivid Ribbon Photography & Design was created.
Before we started the business, we always knew that since we have been helped along the way in our lives, we wanted to do more than just to do things that would benefit us. We wanted to pay it forward and give back to the community. We wanted to do this through sharing our expertise and experience with others. That’s why we thought of the idea to create YEG Biz Chat (@YEGBizChat). A Twitter chat that will add value to other small businesses in Edmonton and area by bringing in specialists in various areas of business so that we can all have more well-rounded knowledge on how to run a successful business. It will also show others where to go for help in the areas that they’re not as experienced with. All done from the comfort and convenience of your phone or computer. Makes so much sense.
Another way we’re giving back to the community, especially the small business community, is we’re giving our time by being a part of Creative Edmonton (@creativeyeg). A local organization that aims to provide a low cost opportunity for small businesses, artists, and musicians to showcase their work through mini-markets or one day pop-up style markets. Overall, it becomes a community and we can all collaborate with each other. Something else that they do in a similar way to YEG Biz Chat is business mentorship. They have local vendors share their story on the challenges and successes with their business. This helps not only by receiving the information they have to share, but it inspires new vendors and shows them that at one point, every company starts off small. Through ticket sales to the pop-up markets, Creative Edmonton contributes a large portion of that money to a local charity. At the last event, they were able to donate over $3000! This is amazing and we are so proud to be part of this team!
Sometimes you don’t know where life will take you. Sometimes, life gives you circumstances or events that you may not understand at the time but later on, you realize that it’s the best thing that could have happened to you. While I do consider that one day to be the worst day of my life, I now realize that it was actually the beginning of the best years of my life as we have so much to be thankful for today. It was the push we needed to take that opportunity to live our dreams and begin giving back to people. We have found our WHY and we have found our compelling reasons to be in business. I will say that starting a business hasn’t been easy but it has been worth it. It takes perseverance and a 4 letter word that many are not willing to put the effort into: W-O-R-K.
A few thoughts:
I have been beaten down verbally, told that I had not lived up to someone’s expectations and made to feel like I wasn’t good enough. There are people who haven’t always believed in me throughout my life. Because of all of the negative things that have happened, not just what I described above, I remember how I felt in those situations and I never forget. This is why I always treat others with the respect and dignity they deserve. This is why I like cheering for the underdogs and working with the “small guys”. Sometimes, they’ve come from a place like where I was and they don’t think they have potential. I like to show them through my story that they can achieve success from a bad situation as well. This is the foundation of myself. This is the foundation of Vivid Ribbon. This is my WHY.
One of my favourite quotes is from The Pursuit of Happyness by Will Smith who plays a man named Chris Carter:
You got a dream? You gotta protect it. When people can’t do something themselves, they’ll want to tell you that you can’t do it. If you want something, go get it. Period.
I hope that by reading my story, our story, that you can see I have been there and know what it’s like. I’m here to tell you that YOU ARE GOOD ENOUGH. That even when others may have not believed in me, it never stopped me from pushing forward and persevering. In life, not everyone will believe in you or your dreams at first, or ever. If there is any time you need someone else to be behind you and believe in you, come see me.