Her quitting threw the entire company for a loop as the company was small and everyone played a large role in the daily operations. When she bailed, I was the nearest person to the job (literally, she shared an office with the person I was replacing) and came highly recommended by the store manager to step in and fulfill that role. Although I had no-one to train me, I was dedicated to learning the company as fast and efficiently as possible.
I was thrilled! Stepping into this position meant more coinage, more responsibility, the ability to travel and really make a difference through key decision making and strategic planning. I was about a month and some change into the position, and I had to the responsibility of planning and facilitating two Father’s Day events at two separate locations, at the same time.
So I dove in, head first, and planned both hugely elaborate events complete with 10-15 vendors per location, live cooking demonstrations, masseuse stations, blood test stations, contests, store coupons, decor, the works. I remember spending hours combing through old files of previous events, researching and looking for pictures to use as inspiration.
I spent the entire night before planning site maps, writing painfully detailed instructions, cutting table clothes and preparing everything to rock and roll the next day. The plan was to set up at the smaller store first and spend the first hour of the event there before making the 45 minute drive to the other store. I left everything out in plain site so that all the manager and employees had to do was assemble everything according to the detailed instructions I'd meticulously prepared.
I woke up the next morning ready to work my master plan. I went to the smaller store, set everything up, took my pictures then made the hike to the larger store. I walked in and I could not believe my eyes. Ya’ll. Shit was everywhere. Nothing had been set up, vendors were unsure of where they were supposed to be, the chef was set to start the cooking demo and chairs had not been placed for the guests – it was a complete nightmare. To top it off, the detailed instructions I left behind had not been touched. I was red hot.
I noticed the store manager standing by looking unbothered so I approached him.
Store Manager: *condescending tone* Because you were not here
Me: I was not here because I had to set up at the other store, why didn’t you follow the instructions I left?
SM: What instructions? Where is your name badge?
Me: I left instructions, a site map and all materials needed at the customer service desk for you... I don’t understand how things are not set up when everything was prepared for you.
SM: Go get your badge
Me: It’s at the other store, I’ve never worn it? Why is it a big deal?
SM: If you don’t have your badge, I’m gonna have to ask you to leave.
My head could have spun around backwards. Did he just say what I think he said? Over a damn name badge that I haven’t touched since I’ve worked for the company?
Me: I’m gonna go to the back and let you cool off, clearly you are upset and need some space.
I go to the back office of the store (picture a smaller Whole Foods Marketplace) and he follows behind.
SM: If you don’t leave I am going to call the police and have them make you leave!
Tears began forming. I’d been working so hard for this store, and for this company. Day and night I’d been studying the fabric of their brand, observing their customers’ habits and planning to update their antiquated marketing tactics to match the pulse of their ideal customer’s values. I’d dedicated my time and talent to this company.
...and they were threatening to call the police on me.
Over. A. Damn. Badge.
As I walked out of the office, tears streaming, I knew I would never go back again. I’d never been fired, and I had certainly never been threatened before. That feeling was awful and one I will never forget. I never wanted to dedicate my time to anyone or anything that didn’t fully support or serve me.
I never wanted to be limited in my creative capacity and I never, ever, wanted to feel under-appreciated again.
I made the 45 minute drive back to my office, and they wouldn't even let me enter the store. I asked the manager to gather my things from my desk and I remember him holding a small shipping box out of the door like I was a beggar. I was crushed.
Once I made it home, I literally set my clock and gave myself 2 whole hours to mentally heal from getting kicked out of an office where I was the only African American within the entire company.
I just kept thinking, “Okay Adrienne, what’s next? What is your next move? What is God trying to say to you, girl?”
After I got it all out, I prayed and realized that my light was shinning too bright for the constraints of that position. That my gifts proceeded me, which is why I was given such a huge task with little help in the first place. God told me that I was settling, and that I didn’t have time to sulk or get stuck. That chapter was over and I had to make moves fast.
Everything in life is black and white, we make the grey. I did not have time to get stuck in the in-between. It was time to boss up.
Two hours later my clock went off, I dried my eyes, and opened my laptop. I came across an open marketing position for a jewelry designer that was near my house, so I sent over an email with my resume and received a response the same night, on a Saturday night to boot! He was impressed with my resume (more on my background in another post) and wanted to meet with me immediately the following Monday.
I was charged up the entire weekend, God has never failed me and I knew something great was on the horizon so I put my feelings on the back-burner and did what I needed to do. I did tons of research about the brand and history, found their painpoints and weaknesses and put together a whole presentation deck for my interview. God revealed that I wasn’t going to be this company’s employee- they would be my client.
I walked into my interview and I presented a flawless presentation that had plans for a full rebrand, a launch event, new website, trunk shows and the works. I dreamed big dreams for this brand similar to the dreams I had for the company that had let me go only a few days prior, but this time around I was playing by my own rules. I went on to explain that I was interested in him being a client rather than an employee. I told him I wanted to work from home and check in with weekly meetings and that I would set my own hours and work on a per-project basis for a lump sum.
I took a huge risk and boldy walked into that interview claiming my future. My attitude was “the worst he could say was ‘no’”. I finished my presentation and thanked him for his time then I received this email two days later:
My mind was blown. I'd just landed my first client, 2 days after being kicked out of my job. Joseph Aviv was a Jewish Diamond jewelry designer that has a history of diamond design in Israel dating back to the early 1900s. He had diamond collections worth millions and he wanted to give me, a young black girl from Atlanta, an opportunity to not only shape his brand but do so on my own terms. This was one of my first lessons of owning my own greatness and not playing small.
I designed a beautiful typeface logo and luxurious website complete with 8 individual diamond collection mini-brands. Each diamond collection had its own visuals and unique storyline that tied in with the theme and color of the diamonds.
I partnered with Miami Magazine and Mercedes Benz and had a spectacular relaunch event in downtown Miami. My client had his own branded VIP lounge and all patrons received a raffle ticket towards the grand prize drawing of one of his pieces. The event was a complete success and was the exact audience Joseph needed to get his brand in front of- and I couldn’t have been more proud of myself for seeing that project through.
THAT is how I walked away from corporate America, THAT is how I was literally shoved into my destiny and that is exactly how Brand My Boutique was born. I walked away from what I thought was great, to God’s greater, and I wouldn’t change anything about my story.
4 years later I am blessed to have clients in 41 countries, be featured on national television and wake up everyday knowing that I am the co-creator of my destiny. Knowing that if at any moment I feel my current situation is not serving my ultimate purpose, I can change it.
I feel a shift and there are about to be major changes at Brand My Boutique. I am excited to offer more of my expertise and knowledge to you all, and just more of myself. I look forward to cultivating a tribe that ‘gets it’ and supports each other. Things are coming full circle and I cannot wait to reveal all the changes that are to come!
What is your why? What made you journey down the path of entrepreneurship? Do you feel like you are serving your purpose? Take a mental note, or hit reply and let’s talk about it!