Happy birthday, Momma! Birthdays are always a great milestone to measure the length of the last 365 days. So on this day, every year, I plan to share with you what I’ve learned and what we’ve accomplished as b.a.l.m. is also a year older. I wish more than anything that I could celebrate another year of your life, but instead I'm choosing to celebrate a year of your legacy. I hope you don't mind sharing your special day with us. :)
This past year has been a whirlwind. It’s been one year since I started this company. I didn't know what I was doing then; I guess I have a little better idea of what I'm doing now. You know I always figure it out, though. I also love that I get to do this with with my sisters. You always wanted us close; even in your passing you brought us together even more. So, here's a few things that we've done:
We were invited out to the Oscars to be a part of their weekend events. We raised $5,000 and headed out to tell our story. It was such a great experience, and we made some great relationships. You would have loved it, and would have been so moved by all of the people that we connected to that were affected by cancer. Ugh, it broke my heart. But, it makes this mission so much more necessary.
We moved into a 10,000 sq ft warehouse with four other start-ups. This has been instrumental in our growth and opportunities. It's inspiring and refreshing to be around talented entrepreneurs and visionaries every day. The ideas and dreams that we come up with together scare me. It's amazing. People that are driven to make the world better for everyone and not just themselves. People like you.
We started a movement. I cannot say enough about our team. I'm awe-inspired by them. To date we've had 28 volunteers and 6 company partnerships working to build this brand. No partners, contractors or employees, just people that believe in the mission and see the potential in our business. Man, I wish you could meet all of them. They share your heart and passion. They would have absolutely loved you. This is by far my most proud accomplishment; that I've been able to connect with other selfless people that believe in what we are building as much as I do. This team is everything. We will absolutely change the standard of living; I have no doubt.
We've raised over $50,000 in funding to use towards growth initiatives that I can't wait to share! I've been shocked how everything has fallen into place the way that it's supposed to. I make less decisions on business acumen than I do on genuine intuition. Maybe they are the same thing and I just haven't figured that out yet. I spend a lot of time talking about vision, and less about numbers and sales, which makes my finance and strategy team cringe, rightfully so. We balance each other out, so it's all good.
We just missed our year goal in sales, but most of that was due to lack of a marketing budget. I bootstrapped this on my own, so needless to say we didn't have much of a budget period. Just under 50% of everyone who purchased our products, repurchased, which is an amazing stat in this industry. So, we know we have an awesome and effective product, we just need to get the word out a little more. Tell your friends to start buying, will ya!
A few other asides: I've dumped everything I have into this and I still haven't gone broke yet, so that's a plus. I'm taking care of your car. I only left the sunroof open during a downpour once. Brooke’s pregnant! We’re going to have our first little princess running around. We all hope she has your eyes and your smile. Mara moved back home and is doing amazing in her career. It's not Columbus, but it's closer than Dallas or Chicago, so we love that. Ali helps to run our entire lab while still growing as a vet nurse. She's still working on Oakley to not chew up everyone's shoes, though. Only one of us is married, so not much progress since you left. Riley's getting older and bossier, but still loves his walks with Dad back to the pond. Dad is doing well. Still mows every damn weekend. He misses you. We all miss you. So much.
What I’ve learned. I’ve learned to be patient. Something we both could have worked on, right? I’ve learned to stay focused. Like when I used to debate my point until I got my way. I still do that. I learned that I absolutely hate being in front of the camera. Ironically, all of those home videos of me trying to steal the spotlight didn't help. I’ve learned that people aren’t always who they seem, and that’s ok. Everyone serves a purpose. I’ve learned to keep my distance from distractions. I’ve learned to trust the process. The struggle is absolutely insane in a start-up; hardest thing I've ever done, hands down. I’ve learned to keep myself motivated. I listen to more audios than I do music, and I watch more documentaries than I do TV. What is a weekend, anyway? My work weeks never actually end. I’ve learned to be thankful and grateful, and that this life is only lived once. I don’t feel as though you had a chance to do everything that you wanted, and I want to make sure I live a full life for you. A healthy, passionate, purposeful life that impacts people the way that you did. Lastly, and most importantly, I've learned to heal.
I'm already looking forward to writing you this letter next year to tell you how we've grown. We have some pretty huge opportunities in front of us, so please send us your grace to capitalize on the right ones. Thank you for believing in me and for allowing me to believe in myself.
Thank you for being my dragonfly. Thank you for loving me unconditionally. Thank you for your sacrifice and for sharing your short life with me. I love you. And when you love someone, you spend your whole life showing them.