How to Survive the “Uh-Oh” Moment

“Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear.” ~ Ambrose Redmoon

“Courage is being afraid but going on anyhow.” ~ Dan Rather

Why is it that just when we are on the doorstep of doing exactly what we want to do, there is often a moment of hesitation and fear, a moment when we wonder, “Can I really do this?” I had this feeling a few months back as I was about to begin my therapeutic yoga teacher training. I had just gotten onto the subway to head downtown to Integral Yoga Institute for my first session of Therapeutic Yoga Teacher Training with Cheri Clampett and Arturo Peal. I spent months looking forward to this training and it was the first training step toward transitioning my career to work on Compass Yoga full-time. And though I know this is the right path, that this is what the world needs and what I need, I had a very brief “uh-oh, what have I done?” moment.

This isn’t the first time this moment has crept up on me. As an actor and musician in college, I always had this exact same moment right before a show. I would literally be in the wings, on the verge of being sick, wishing I could just run for the exit. It happens to me when I speak publicly, whether I’m presenting or just asking a question in front of a large group of people.

I often feel this moment just as I’m wrapping up a blog post and my finger is hovering over the “publish” button. Is what I’ve written too personal, too candid, or on a topic that is much too sensitive? There is something inherently scary about whole-heartedly putting ourselves out into the world, in front of others, and saying, “This is who I am.”

How can we get comfortable with being uncomfortable? How do we remain equal parts vulnerable and strong?

Now that I’ve dealt with stage fright in all it’s forms for many years, I’ve got a few methods that I use that have never failed me:

1.) Remember that what you’re feeling is not unique and it’s okay to be afraid. I’ll even go one step further and say that if you aren’t afraid to do something new, it may not even be worth doing. Fear is a very human response and a sign that you care so much about what you’re about to do, that you want to honor its importance as much as you possibly can. The best way to honor your action’s importance is to keep going right through the fear!

2.) Remember your intention. For me, this path of Compass Yoga is the work of my lifetime; it is my contribution to humanity. On the doorstep of Integral Yoga Institute that night, I reminded myself of all of the people who will be helped by my work in therapeutic yoga, people who right now at this moment need that help and aren’t receiving it. I walked through that door for them.

3.) Remember what’s on the other side of your fear. There’s so much anxiety that resides in anticipation. Once I get to where I’m going, I’m fine. What I fear is the lead up to that uh-oh moment, not the action I’m taking in and of itself. On the other side of your fears are your life’s greatest accomplishments. So don’t run from fear, but run toward your future accomplishments, recognizing that fear is just a bump on the road to great learning.

4.) Carry an inspiration with you. When I’m really frightened, I remind myself of two very inspiring passages about moving through fear. The ideas behind them always help me walk through my uh-oh moments:

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light more than our darkness which scares us. We ask ourselves – who are we to be brilliant, beautiful, talented, and fabulous? But honestly, who are you to not be so? ~ Marianne Williamson

Many of us have lived desert lives: very small on the surface, and enormous underground. Because of this, so often we feel we live in an empty space where there is just one cactus with one brilliant red flower on it, and then in every direction, 500 miles of nothing. But for those of us who will go 501 miles, there is something more. Don’t be a fool. Go back and stand under that one red flower and walk straight ahead for that last hard mile. Crawl through the window of your dream. ~ Clarissa Pinkola Estes

I want you to keep moving along the exact path you want to be on. You will have moments of fear, hesitation, and doubt. You may feel like a fraud, and on the surface this feeling may seem insurmountable. I assure you it is not; it is just part of the journey.

Fear is an obstacle placed in your way only so that you can realize how much strength and conviction you really have. You have every right to have exactly the life you want, to do the work you really want to do, to help the people you want to help with your own gifts and talents. Push through.

– Christa Avampato

Christa Avampato is a yoga teacher who learns from her students every day, a product developer who loves the possibilities of new technology, and a writer who believes that hope and creativity are the most powerful duo on Earth. She travels with a purpose and regularly practices the high art of people-watching in New York City, a place she is proud to call home. Find her online at http://christainnewyork.com and http://www.twitter.com/christanyc.

Not the Same Old Yoga

Meet Christa Avampato, a renaissance woman who, most recently, founded her own not-for-profit organization named Compass Yoga.  Compass Yoga is an organization dedicated to promoting the therapeutic healing powers of yoga for individuals with specific healthcare needs.

Christa has an eclectic employment history.  “I always wanted to have the opportunity to try new things, experiment, see where things lead.”  Significantly, Christa also did not compromise.  “I never took a terrible job just to make ends meet.  I didn’t realize that this was rare.”

She worked through college at the University of Pennsylvania and, upon graduation, was employed in the theatre industry for several years.  She left the theatre industry to pursue not-for-profit fundraising and then returned to school in pursuit of her MBA at the Darden Graduate School of Business at the University of Virginia.  Although she intended to return to not-for-profit work after graduate school, Christa moved from Virginia to New York to be near a sick family member and soon realized that salaries in the not-for-profit world were insufficient to support life in New York.  She found employment in new product development at a large company.

“I feel like I’ve been a new product developer my whole career – always developing something new that helps people fulfill a need that they have.”

In 2007 and 2008, Christa found herself in New York City working as a new product developer and watching the economy fall apart.  “I’ve had a front row seat to the recession.  They were dark days in 2008.  It was a pretty scary place to be.”  At one point, two thirds of her business school class were unemployed.  “These were very smart, very qualified people being turned out by their companies.”

Observing these events unfold, Christa started to consider how she could take her future into her own hands.  She realized she could not expect another company to create her own future for her and contemplated becoming an entrepreneur.  “The thought was very scary.  I never thought that I would own my own company or organization.  I was really scared and I had to talk to other people who had done it and get some courage and confidence to do it myself.”

Christa pitched an idea for a column about entrepreneurship to Examiner.com.  She wanted to interview successful entrepreneurs and gain courage and confidence from their stories.  Over the course of 15 months in 2009 and 2010, she interviewed over one hundred entrepreneurs.  Christa turned twenty-seven of these interviews into a book entitled Hope in Progress: 27 Entrepreneurs Who Inspired Me During the Great RecessionHope in Progress is available online and through Kindle.  Now that Christa had the courage and determination, she needed her idea.

Compass Yoga became the focus of Christa’s newfound entrepreneuring spirit.  She always had a passion for teaching and had developed a passion for yoga as well.  These dual passions prompted her to train as a yoga instructor.  As she progressed through training, she discovered that the traditional studio business model for yoga left much to be desired.  “It seemed ridiculous to me that there wasn’t a way for yoga teachers to make a living wage.  With my business, finance and yoga background, there had to be a better way to get paid to do this.”  Christa determined to find a way to make yoga financially viable.

Christa’s training inspired a strong belief in the healing powers of yoga.  “The more I saw articles in The Times about people struggling with diabetes and heart diseases – I knew yoga and meditation could help with that.  Wow!  There is a lot of opportunity there.”  An advocate for the healing power of yoga and meditation, and recognizing the weaknesses in our current healthcare system, Christa envisions a way to blend yoga and meditation with western medicine to offer preventative, holistic medical care.

“We would look at a patient from a 360 degree view.  Someone could come to us no matter what the ailment, information could be shared across therapists and doctors to provide true holistic care to a client.”

The unique skill set developed during Christa’s eclectic employment history, her education, her passions, her front row seat to the recession, all contributed to the May 2010 founding of Compass Yoga.  Christa gathered and diverse collection of colleagues and friends to form a Board of Directors, all believing in the power of people healing themselves through alternative methods.

Christa invested her own savings, earned through her new product development work.  “My work in business and finance fuels the not-for-profit work I am passionate about.”  More importantly, using her own funds gave her control over Compass Yoga’s mission.  “I want to bring in grant money and donor money but, at the very beginning, I wanted to clearly define what we are doing.  I wanted us to shape the mission, not a fundraiser.”

Approximately one and a half years after its founding, Compass Yoga will soon have 501(c)(3) status.  Once its status is established, it will begin fundraising efforts targeting the public and private sectors.  Christa currently teaches yoga classes at Compass Yoga, as well as, hospitals, universities and other institutions in New York City.  Compass Yoga is already serving the needs of populations facing specific healthcare challenges, including veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.   Although Christa continues to work full-time, she plans for Compass Yoga to become her full time job.

Christa is proud of her accomplishments and happy to tell her story.  In addition to the Examiner.com article and other freelance writing projects, she maintains an inspirational blog called Christa in New York.

Sourtosweet is very excited that Christa has agreed to contribute a post here.  Stay tuned next week for an original Christa Avampato post designed to inspire.

“With enough will and determination your life can turn out the way you want it to turn out. – Christa Avampato

In the meantime, Christa, best wishes on continued career satisfaction and success!

If you are, or someone you know is, pursuing a passion despite this tough economy, please contact me here.

© sourtosweet

A Wedding Video You’ll Want To Watch

Meet Andy Owen, owner of Owen Video.  Owen Video specializes in creating unique and beautiful wedding videos for its clients.

Andy is married to his wife, Chandra, and is a stay-at-home father to their two children.

From 2005 to 2008, Andy was the multimedia support technician for a Michigan school district.  He maintained the district’s interactive video equipment and supervised the district’s video studio.  He also taught teachers how to use the equipment.

“I loved it,” Andy admits.  But “in 2007 the writing was on the wall in the State of Michigan that education financing was going down the tubes.”  Although administrators in Andy’s district tried to preserve his job, the district ultimately laid Andy off in June of 2008.

Because Andy had prior warning of his impending job loss, he was able to get a head start on the job search process.  In fact, he had twelve job interviews in the spring and summer of 2008.  In three of those twelve interviews, Andy returned for both a second and third round.  He remembers that one of the jobs was a part-time position paying “a whopping” ten dollars an hour.  None of these opportunities resulted in employment in the form that Andy was seeking.  Instead, these job interviews prompted him to strike out on his own.

Andy admits he is a reluctant entrepreneur.  “I was dragged kicking and screaming into being my own boss.  I was quite happy working for someone else.”  In fact, the first videos created by Owen Video were corporate videos, not wedding videos.

His first client was a local construction company – one of the twelve companies that interviewed him in 2008.  “They loved me but I wasn’t ready for the job.  They asked if I was doing freelance video because they had a budget for that . . . .  I offered them a bid for this project and they thought it was a steal considering other bids.  They started using me a lot because I was underbidding the competition.  I had zero business experience – I never knew what to charge.”  Andy worked on corporate videos for the balance of 2008.

In 2009, Andy was persuaded to pursue wedding videography.  This was not Andy’s first foray into wedding videos, but prior to 2009, he admits, “I hated it.”  But, in 2009, Andy received inspiration and encouragement from a Nashville wedding videographer.  Eugene, the Nashville videographer, infused interesting and beautiful cinematic effects into his videos and this inspired Andy.

Andy explains, “I realized there was untapped potential for weddings to be creative.”  This was his turning point.

Advertising through craigslist, he booked seven weddings in 2009.  In 2010, Andy was fully booked for the year by April.  Owen Video now has its own website and facebook page featuring some of Andy’s work.  However, Andy finds that most business comes from referrals by other wedding vendors.

Andy praises his wife, Chandra, for allowing him the freedom to become an entrepreneur and stay-at-home dad.  Chandra is a financial aid counselor at Michigan State University and the family has health insurance benefits through her employer.  “My wife is supporting me and I could never have done this without her.  Her supporting the fact that I wanted to do this was great.”

For Andy, the best advantage to his wedding videography business is his ability to be a stay-at-home father.  “I have always wanted to be a dad.  I wanted to have kids, boy or girl, to play catch with.  My passion is the fact that I get to be a stay at home dad and spend time with my kids.”

The occasional assistance from friends and family has helped Andy achieve his current level of success.  Andy’s mother-in-law watches their three year old daughter and five month old son on Tuesdays so Andy can squeeze in some weekday business.  When Andy first started shooting videos, his equipment was loaned from a former colleague.  Andy improved his videography skills with the constructive criticism of friends like Eugene and a Lansing photographer named Jason Aten.  Although Andy is the primary employee and videographer for Owen Video, he also has assistance from time to time from family and friends who he introduces on his website.

Some final thoughts from Andy – “I am passionate about what I do.  It is just one of those things that I fell into and fell in love with doing.  I don’t know that I will be doing this for the rest of my life, but for now, I am definitely in love with doing it and I will do it as long as I enjoy it.”

If you are, or someone you know is, pursuing a passion despite this tough economy, please contact me here.

© sourtosweet

Out with Edison, In with Nimble Jack

Meet Jack D’Alelio, owner of Nimble Jack Enterprises.  Founded in 2009, Nimble Jack Enterprises is devoted to “finding innovative solutions to everyday problems.”  Translation – Nimble Jack invents those consumer products that make you wonder, “Why didn’t I think of that?”

Jack’s career began in 1979.  He worked as a chemist for over 10 years in the biotech industry.  Through the course of his career he migrated out of the laboratory and into the office where he played a regulatory role.  His last job, as a Senior Quality Engineer, started in October 2007 and ended in July 2008.  The company experienced difficulties and Jack was laid off in the first of five waves of layoffs.

“My job was to make sure we put out a good quality product.  I really loved that job and getting laid off was a bit of a shock even though we knew there were rumors – but still it came as a surprise, sort of unexpected.”

After being laid off, Jack decided that he had the knowledge and experience to be his own boss.  He wanted to invent a product, develop it, and successfully license it to a company interested in manufacturing and mass marketing it.

Nimble Jack Enterprises was born.  As owner and sole employee of Nimble Jack Enterprises, Jack invented, developed and is in the process of patenting the company’s first product, the Magic Toob Lampshade Leveler.

Jack envisioned and developed the Magic Toob to meet a specific need he discovered during the course of his everyday life.  As a result of federal law passed in 2007, Americans are expected to replace their energy-wasting, incandescent light bulbs with energy-efficient spiral fluorescent light bulbs.  The differing shape of the incandescent and fluorescent bulbs creates an unanticipated dilemma.   Individuals with clip-on lampshades manufactured for incandescent light bulbs experience tremendous difficulty fitting such shades over the fluorescent light bulbs.

“I knew these were bulbs coming and knew that it was going to pose a problem,” Jack explains, “I had a few lamps that use clip ons and they don’t fit the new bulbs at all.”

Enthusiastic about his invention, Jack describes, “The product is incredibly simple – high temperature silicone tubing that I am able to wrap around a bulb clip.  It becomes part of a bulb clip.”  With the silicone tubing in place, the lampshade fits securely and levelly around the spiral fluorescent light bulb.

Customers have found alternate uses for the Magic Toob as well.  “A lot of people like the product for keeping their mini-shades straight on chandeliers.”

The Magic Toob first entered the market in 2009 and over 250 have sold.  “Ninety-five percent of people find my product by looking for a way to keep a clip-on lampshade to fit one of those bulbs, they do a google search and find the product on my website.”

Jack also sought to advertise his product by applying for a spot on the ABC show, Shark Tank.  He hoped that the national exposure Shark Tank would provide would attract the attention of someone interested in licensing and manufacturing the Magic Toob.

So far, Jack has succeeded in two of his three goals but he is still seeking the opportunity to license the Magic Toob to a company interested in taking the product to the marketplace.

“I developed this product from an idea to a fully developed, shelf ready product in nine months.  What I would like to do is license the product or sell the rights completely and move on to the next thing.”  Jack’s joy is in the inventing stage of the process, not in manufacturing, advertising or retail.  “I call myself an inventor/entrepreneur – I’m a reluctant entrepreneur.  I would rather just invent.”

Jack is married and he and his wife have a daughter who just began her freshman year in high school.  He credits his ability to operate Nimble Jack to his wife.  She is a teacher and provides the family with a steady income and health benefits while Jack pursues his passion.

“I can honestly say it is the best job that I have ever had.  There have been days when I am working 16 hours a day but it doesn’t feel like work.  When you’re doing something you want to do, something you believe in.”

If you have, or someone you know, is pursuing their passion despite this tough economy, please contact me here.

© sourtosweet

Korean BBQ On The Move

In this week’s blog post, sourtosweet hoped to feature Korilla BBQ, a company that operates distinctive food trucks serving delicious Korean barbeque to the New York City population.  The founder of Korilla BBQ is a Columbia University alum who graduated in the late 2000s into the depressed job market.  From this misfortune, the concept of Korilla BBQ emerged.

Sourtosweet discovered Korilla’s story when the company was featured on this season of the Food Network’s The Great Food Truck Race.  For those familiar with the show, the most recent episode revealed Korilla’s dismissal from the competition on suspicion of cheating.  Tyler Florence, the show’s host, provided little detail about the actions identified as cheating before ejecting Korilla from the competition.  Communications on Korilla BBQ’s facebook page indicate that the company is contractually prevented from discussing details of the show until spring of 2012.

Before their ejection, Korilla was a frontrunner in the overall competition.  After their ejection, some audience members condemn them as cheaters.  Others await more information or Korilla’s defense.  Still others act as staunch defenders of their favorite food truck.  You can find all three viewpoints on Korilla’s facebook page.

Prior to last week’s episode, sourtosweet approached Korilla about contributing its story to the blog and Korilla agreed.  However, the circumstances of this past week would throw a wrench into the best laid plans.  It is sourtosweet’s hope that Korilla will find time in the near future to discuss how they have begun to build a Korean BBQ empire on the streets of New York City.

According to Korilla’s website, the company’s opening day was October 18, 2010.  Opening day was preceded by an extensive planning phase that began as early as 2008.  Since opening day, it appears that Korilla has experienced tremendous success as evidenced by the addition of two food trucks to its fleet.  The additional trucks came on line early this summer.

Sourtosweet had the opportunity to travel to the corner of Varick and Vandam in Soho this week to sample Korilla’s fare.  At 1pm on a Tuesday, hungry New Yorkers lined up more than halfway down a long city block waiting for the distinctive tiger-striped Korilla truck to open shop.  The line can be attributed in part to Korilla’s effective use of the latest social media tools.  For instance, Korilla tweets its truck locations and latest updates to its twitter audience.

When the truck opened its doors, the service was polite and efficient.  The food was delicious.  Sourtosweet officially recommends both the pork and beef barbeque tacos with kim chi slaw and either the Korean BBQ sauce or the Korean hot sauce.

Based on what I have seen and tasted, Korilla is a very successful business which emerged despite and because of the economic downturn when a unemployed college graduate and his friends decided to share their love of Korean Barbeque with the world.

Hopefully, sourtosweet will soon have the opportunity to post a follow up on Korilla with more detail about the company’s birth, development and success.

In the meantime, Korilla, best wishes on continued success!

If you have, or someone you know has, successfully pursued their passion despite this tough economy, please contact me here.

© sourtosweet

I See Magic in Your Future

Meet Donna Purnell known professionally as Alexanderia the Great “The Queen of Extreme,” one of the few female escape artists in the world. Local and national news agencies have picked up her story dubbing her the “Modern Day Houdini,” “The Female Houdini” and the “Housewife Houdini.” When I spoke to her, Ms. Purnell identified herself simply as Alex. She is also wife to her husband, Bill Purnell, and mother to their three teenage children, Nicole, Kristin and Michael.

The Purnell’s shared love of magic dates back 25 years to high school when Mr. Purnell tried to impress his future wife with some basic rope ties. Her response: “That’s cool, but I can do better.”(1) The two kept their magical hobby a secret from friends and family, fearing what others might think. While raising their three children, Ms. Purnell worked as a day-care provider and teacher.

After losing three jobs during the recession, she considered whether their love of magic could be more than a hobby. In an August 22, 2011 interview with WABC Eyewitness News in New York, Ms. Purnell explained, “At that point after losing three jobs I was really low, my self-esteem and I really needed to find a way to bring me back.”(2)

Alex’s career as a public performer began at the age of 47 in October of 2009 in her hometown of Dedham, Massachusetts when she volunteered to take part in the Worldwide Escape Artists Relay. On the evening of October 24, 2009, in front of a hometown crowd, Alex stood by the side of Dedham High School’s pool while 55 pounds of weight, including steel shackles around her wrists and ankles, multiple chains, nine padlocks and a 15 pound lead belt were strapped to her body. After taking several “breath holds,” Alex jumped into the 12 foot deep pool and sank to the bottom. Alex freed herself from the locks and chains and surfaced in under sixty seconds. Success. This stunt, named the Underwater Leap of Faith, is one of many daring escapes she has since publicly performed.

News of Alex’s stunts has spread rapidly since October of 2009 helped in part by videos of her escapes posted on youtube.com. Usually her stunts involve underwater escapes. She has freed herself from shackles, padlocks, chains, mailbags and recycling barrels while submerged in water or in similarly “airless” circumstances. In her newest stunt, the Underwater Cell, she immerses herself in a 3 foot high plexiglass cell filled with water and must unbind her hands and pick the cell’s lock in order to escape.

Alex also holds a world record for the fastest “extreme” straight jacket escape, which she achieved live on Fox & Friends in autumn of last year. In this stunt, she escaped from a straightjacket as well as 50 feet of chain and 10 padlocks in only 2 minutes and 37 seconds. There is a link to Alex’s record-breaking escape on her webpage.

Currently, Alex performs locally with a group called Lydia’s Carnival Sideshow. Their next performance will be Saturday, September 17th at The Great New England Steampunk Exhibition in Fitchburg, Massachusetts. Alex and Bill would ultimately like to take the act on the road. “I would love to have a show and take it places, whether Atlantic City or Vegas.”(3)

Alex prepares for her escapes with free-diving courses, breath-holding trials and underwater weight lifting. In an interview on Greater Boston with Emily Rooney, Bill explains, “The breath training is to keep her safe.”(4) The couple believes that the breath-holding training has already saved Alex’s life once when the plexiglass cell malfunctioned during training for the Underwater Cell. Alex is now able to hold her breath for as long as 3 minutes and 50 seconds in a static, low stress environment.

Alex’s story inspires. She intends it to. “It doesn’t matter your age it doesn’t matter your sex if you are in a situation and you think that that’s not where you want to be, just go for it.”(5)

Her story also exemplifies what this blog is about. “The economy has really thrown people a curve ball. You need to look back at what you do well and are passionate about,” she told me during our interview.

Message: Identify your passion, pursue it, and success will follow.

Alex, best wishes and stay safe!

If you have, or someone you know has, successfully pursued their passion despite this tough economy, please contact me here.

(1) Quote taken from article “Taking the Plunge,” by Taryn Plumb published online by the Boston Globe on February 1, 2011. Full article available at http://articles.boston.com/2011-02-01/lifestyle/29346704_1_deep-breath-buckles-sideshow.

(2) Quote taken from article “Woman makes magical decision after losing jobs,” by WABC Eyewitness News published online on August 22, 2011. Full article available at http://abclocal.go.com/wabc/firstatfour/story?section=firstatfour&id=8320206.

(3) Quote taken from interview on Greater Boston with Emily Rooney, dated February 24, 2011. Video of full interview available at http://www.wgbh.org/programs/Greater-Boston-11/episodes/Feb-24-2011Escape-artist-Alexanderia-the-Great-25355.

(4) Quote taken from interview on Greater Boston with Emily Rooney, dated February 24, 2011. Video of full interview available at http://www.wgbh.org/programs/Greater-Boston-11/episodes/Feb-24-2011Escape-artist-Alexanderia-the-Great-25355.

(5) Quote taken from article “Woman makes magical decision after losing jobs,” by WABC Eyewitness News published online on August 22, 2011. Full article available at http://abclocal.go.com/wabc/firstatfour/story?section=firstatfour&id=8320206.

Pictures provided by Mackay Entertainment, available at http://mackayentertainment.blogspot.com/2011/03/alexanderia-great.html.

Acknowledgements: In addition to my own communications with Alex, information contained in this post was gathered from a series of news reports (both written and verbal) about Alexanderia the Great. These news reports are available at the following links: Fox News Interview dated September 4, 2010 available at http://video.foxnews.com/v/4329692/moms-an-escape-artist; The CBS Evening News with Katie Couric available at http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=7357307n; Boston’s Chronicle HD available at http://www.thebostonchannel.com/video/25463812/detail.html; The Boston Globe available at http://articles.boston.com/2011-02-01/lifestyle/29346704_1_deep-breath-buckles-sideshow; Greater Boston with Emily Rooney available at http://www.wgbh.org/programs/Greater-Boston-11/episodes/Feb-24-2011Escape-artist-Alexanderia-the-Great-25355; WABC Eyewitness News available at http://abclocal.go.com/wabc/firstatfour/story?section=firstatfour&id=8320206 and Alexanderia the Great facebook page available at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Alexanderia-the-Great-Escape-Artist-Extraordinaire/175216655822724?sk=wall.

© sourtosweet

The Newest Mobile Dog Groomer on the Block

Meet Christine the owner of The Good Life Mobile Dog Grooming Company.  Christine is a trained and certified dog groomer who travels to her clients’ homes and provides grooming services to their furry loved ones.  She resides in Rockland County, New York and The Good Life operates locally, serving customers in Rockland County and lower-Westchester County, New York and Bergen County, New Jersey.

When Christine talks about her company, her face lights up.  She is animated, enthusiastic and happy.  To her, The Good Life is not a job, grooming dogs is her pleasure and joy.  “When I have a dog in front of me, I know that is where I belong.  I don’t look of these animals as a business.  There are a lot of injustices done to animals in this world.  I won’t be part of that.”

Christine has an eclectic employment history.  “I’m the kind of person who always looks for a window when doors seem to be slamming.  I’m a survivor.”  She worked as a manicurist, freight auditor and, most recently, a telecommunications salesperson, before pursuing dog grooming.

After eleven years as a telecommunications salesperson, Christine realized that she had had enough.  She thought seriously about pursuing a dog grooming as a career path.  She did her research, made phone calls, and discussed her thoughts and dreams with her loved ones.  Finally, in January of 2011, she pulled the trigger.  “I threw it up in the air like confetti and walked away,” she said.  She described how eleven other employees who heard her story followed her lead and left the company to pursue other options.  “It was crazy.  You could feel the energy.”

When Christine left her job in January, she had already put a deposit down on the biggest investment for her future, the truck.  She ordered the truck from Wagon Tails, a family business in Michigan that manufactures grooming vans.  During her planning phase the previous year, Christine determined that she could pay for the van and pay her living expenses while her company got off the ground by cashing in her pension.  Although this was a gamble, she was committed to her plan.

It was a good gamble.  She learned that the dog grooming industry has not suffered during this economic downturn.  “It just snowballed,” Christine explains.  After completing training at New York Dog School of Grooming, Christine apprenticed with another local mobile dog groomer.  “She could have looked at me as a competitor but she did not.  I rode in the truck with her.  She was very helpful, very supportive.”

Finally, through word of mouth, Christine obtained her first client.  “I received a phone call from a woman who asked me to come and groom her cockapoo.  The truck was just delivered the day before.  I was thrilled.”  Christine drove the truck around as an advertisement for her business.  With the assistance of a friend, she created a company website, www.goodlifegrooming.com.

She obtains most clients through word of mouth, good work, and personal service.  “I’m looking to at it as treating people fairly,” she explains.  “I charge what I think I should charge.  Anywhere from forty and up.  I can’t tell you what I’m going to charge you until I see the animal.”

Just a few months into the business, Christine is working with a reputable accountant to help her manage her company’s financial success.

Christine’s story is atypical for this blog because she made the independent choice to leave her job in telecommunications and pursue her dream.  Nevertheless, her story provides a useful lesson to those interested in pursuing their dreams – look for an industry unaffected by the economic downturn.

There is another lesson to be learned from Christine’s story as well – go after your dream.  If you are happy doing what you are doing, then your chances of success increase exponentially.

Christine, best wishes for continued success!

If you have, or someone you know has, successfully pursued their passion despite this tough economy, please contact me here.

© sourtosweet