Tag Archives: entrepreneur

The Downfall…….

I almost don’t know where to begin.  Everything with CTA’s developement and progress was going better than I could imagine, and then a bombshell hit me, impacting every single aspect of my life; most prolifically, Cargo Train head-on!

December was a great month for the company.  I was planning a half a dozen new projects and excited to bring in the new year living a dream that I had spent my life daydreaming about, and in January of this year, that dream came to an absolute stand-still.  It’s the first time ever did a personal situation ever effect my work.  Most specifically, my marriage.

When I began building this company, doing all of the research, logo designing, networking, etc…my husband would tell me that he was so excited for me, and that he would be disappointed if I ever stopped fighting for my dream with launching Cargo Train, and I foolishly believed his words, until I slowly began to see that the further I took Cargo Train, the more friction began to build up between he and I.  I was totally perplexed.  He was telling me this, but his actions were showing me something completely different.

I knew things were getting bad when my family members started reaching out to me, and telling me that my husband was “overbearing” and “controlling” me.  Having what I thought was a solid marriage and family life, I didn’t want to believe what they were trying to tell me.  From that night, I began watching him closer than I ever have….looking for clues and signs that would somehow validate what my family was trying to tell me.  So I said, “fuck it”, let’s find out, and I simply went out with my friends one night to a cafe that I had been going to since I was 14 years old.  Something I haven’t done since getting married, being a new mom and starting CTA (common sacrifice when youre a self-funded solopreneur…the social life is always the first to go), my daughter stayed with my mother that night, and the night was going smoothly…..that was until I came back home around 1:30am.

With my daughter sleeping in my arms.  I opened the door and walked into the living room; I was completely devastated with what I saw.  My house was a disaster!  I kept my cool, and calmly put my daughter into her bed, and then went from room to room, guaging and “taking in” what he had done just because I went out against his wishes.  I walked from the kitchen to the dining room table to find one of my boxes with a knife sticking out of it, and that honestly scared me.  I took it as an immediate threat for my safety, even thought he had never been physical with me before, I knew better than to underestimate someone’s ability to do anything.  My stomach plummeted, and instantly thought of my office on the 2nd floor where I ran all of Cargo Train’s admin and shipping.  Inventory was kept in a room down the hall from my office which doubled as my make shift photography studio……everything had been destroyed!  My equipment, my files, the items I had been prepping for sale that week, my props, supplies…..he destroyed everything out of a senseless act of pure jealousy.

I almost didn’t know how to react.  So many emotions were hitting me at once.  All I could think of was the magnitude of the sacrifices I had made in order to live my dream:  time away from our daughter, saving money for more inventory or supplies instead of buying things for myself.  The hundreds of hours I had dedicated to the progress of Cargo Train.  Severals days every week only sleeping maybe 2-3 hours before going into my dispatching job (midnights), then coming home and taking care of our daughter while he worked 12+ hours, all the while, playing “perfect wife” cooking the meals, cleaning the house….I was cinderella without the fancy dress and my prince charming being my worst nightmare —I was just…..devastated.

He killed my dream.  He took the one thing I loved as much as being a mother……my ability to adequetly operate my company.

To me, CTA was just like having a 2nd child.  I created it, nurtured it, supported it, sacrificed for it, dreamt about it my whole life….I saw CTA no different than my own daughter, of course the only difference being that I would never sacrifice my daughter’s well-being for Cargo Train, she always came first…regarless of the dreams I had.  So mentally, he took one of my children from me.  I swallowed hard, and walked into the guest bedroom, where he was passed out on the bed, and I calmly informed him that he had 48 hours to remove himself from the house, or I was going to do it for him.  The hardest part was the confirmation of all the “feelings” and “signs” I had been noticing for awhile, but refused to acknowledge. What “good wife” would? I was in denial because I loved him as much as I did.

This was my husband, the man who made an oath to love me and be there  for me until the end of time. Never expecting ever that he would be the one that was sabatoging my every effort, every step of the way!  Placing roadblocks in front of me, and getting more and more constricting when I was overcoming, not only, being the underdog entrepreneur of St. Louis, but all the extras he was throwing at me as well.  I kept reaching goals, and his resentment towards my ambitions kept growing!

I am still coping with the aftermath and the separation to this day now nearly 10 months later, and the struggle didn’t end in back in January…..little did I know, they were only the beginning!  The worst was still to come.  It probably took me about 2 weeks before I had the strength to walk back into my office and begin salvaging what I could. Being a self-funded startup, I knew I had no extra finances to replace what was destroyed.  I cried….a lot, the pain from the betrayal was bad enough, but battling both the loss of my company and the loss of the “ideal” family life was overwhelming. Faking smiles for my daughter so that she didn’t have to see how sad mommy was all the time, and that daddy was to blame.  I didn’t want to push my feelings and thoughts of my ex-husband out on her, she still very much adored her father, and coming from someone who never had that privilege, I wasn’t about to take that from her…..so I would lie day after day and say mommy got mascara or my infamous liquid liner in my eye…it made for a perfect excuse for the tears.

That night in January changed me completely…..inside and out!  I turned to fitness as an outlet for the pain and increidble anger I was stuck with and as a way of preparing me to become a single mom, and all that was to follow after the separation.  Even though, CTA was growing up beautifully, my ex-husband was still the bread winner after my “night job” closed for business; so I relied solely on Cargo Train to fill in the financial gap.  The next several months after we separated, I lost everything one by one….the car (repo’d), the house (expired lease), sold many of my possessions just to make ends meet for me and my daughter, and accepting that I was about to become homeless for the first time in my life.  I had to send my daughter to stay with my mother while I began this very…….long……road….back to where it was before everything came tumbling down.  I am still working on that as I write this.  I am still homeless, but looking forward to a new apartment within the next month, and when that happens, you bet your ass, Cargo Train will be coming with me.  I will pick up the pieces, and this time around, it will be on my own terms, not under the dictation of another!  Some dreams come and go, but real dreams never die! Not a day passed that I didn’t think of my dream that was taken from me.  Real dreams stick with you when there seems to be “no hope”, always know……THERE IS ALWAYS HOPE!

Today, I am working hard and looking forward at relaunching Cargo Train Apparel (hopefully) by January 2015. Until then, I am focusing on the crucial steps I need to take in order to reach this massive goal; only this time around, it will be on my own terms, and not under the the controlling dictation of someone else.  ():-)

–After some time had passed, I later asked my ex-husband (after we regained our civility for the sake of our young daughter) why he did what he did, and his response….”I couldn’t accept having a wife more successful than me”  –My lips pressed together, I simply just nodded, and responded, “Ok”

Ridiculous!

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CTA IS OFFICIAL!!

CTA IS OFFICIAL!!

From years of dreaming and that single college-rule spiral bound notebook to this moment; I can’t begin to describe what I’m feeling, but one immense emotion I have at the moment is just pure gratitude to EVERY SINGLE ONE of my team members, mentors, customers, fans, supporters, and CTA cheerleaders that never allowed me, for a moment, to think that giving up was ever an option. After 2+ years of holding on to the dream, CTA officially becomes a reality. Let’s get to work!

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Milestone Reached!

Milestone Reached!

Lost the Intuit competition to have a professional design my company website, so I said screw it, and built it myself.  🙂

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Well, that pivotal time has finally come, I’ll be permanently resigning from dispatching within the next 30 hours. My center will be closed, and my blind leap of faith begins towards pursuing this company. I blogged about this very day several months ago in “Risking it All…” just awkward to see this day actually arrive.

I am grateful for what I’ve been taught over the last almost 4 and a half years.  Honestly, without this position or the opportunity given to me by my supervisor, I wouldn’t have had an opportunity to begin building my company, to obtain the goals I have, or have met some amazing people I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know….

So when people ask me if I am sad; I honestly can’t say that I am.  I’m proud of how long I held in for, when I wanted to walk away so many times in the past.  I persevered at a time when I wasn’t sure if I could. Therefore, I can comfortably hold my head high, feeling that I did an excellent job, and hope that some of the impacts I’ve made will go on through the people I’ve been able to help.

My last hope is that the next dispatchers are as passionate about their job as I was, and that my officers continue to improve the communities they serve.

As this chapter now closes, I am optimistic and anxious to start the next one; the Cargo Train one…

Thank you.

():-)

  Well, that pivotal time has finally come…..

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Protected: My Secret War

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When life changed…..

When I talk to people about my past I always refer to the times as either before or after I “changed”, and this change was when I drop nearly 100lbs and discovered a WHOLE new lease on life; which took place between Fall 07 – Winter 08.  

I lost it, and didn’t realize it.  I started working for H&M in October 2005, and I was super-chunky….lol, and what scared me was that my boss at the time (temp store manager from NYC) told us when we were hired, “If you don’t stay fit, or lost weight, you are NOT doing your job properly, and I’ll fire you!” She was mean, but she was right!

……so yea…….I ended up dropping from a size 18 down to a size 4/6 and just shy of 100lbs total.  

To me, it was a miracle! I had finally achieved what everyone said I wouldn’t and got I wanted more than anything else in life, and almost more than life itself.

 …..More than money, more than fancy things, more than air to breath….I wanted to be healthy and I wanted to be beautiful (not perfect, but pretty).  I wanted a beautiful body, and after a little over a year, I finally had it.

I BECAME STUNNING….I turned into exactly what I had imagined myself as….ever since I was little, and I would get beat up…I always held on to this physical fixation about myself. I ultimately achieved the “impossible”, and the reaction from the public was overwhelming….almost to a fault.

This is where I found out that the grass isn’t always greener, and this was showing true in some aspects of my new “life”

The first thing I noticed was it was not difficult to get attention from really anybody.  This was polar opposite from what I had been used to.  I would go walking down the street and have random cars pull over and ask if I needed anything. I would always just smile, giggle, and decline, then go about my business.  Before, people would go out of their way just to avoid me. It was just so different…I almost didn’t know how to handle it.

The part I loved the most (besides knowing I was healthy) was that I NO LONGER HAD TO WORRY ABOUT MY LOOKS! It was no longer on my mind.  I no longer had to wonder if someone didn’t like me because of my weight….I knew that if they didn’t like me, it was because they didn’t like my personality.  Which for me, was waaaayyy easier to accept than “oh you’re just too fat”  LOL — Twisted, but true.

When I “changed” I didn’t just change physically, but my outlook on the world around me changed along with it.  Mostly good, but some bad.   One of the bad aspects was when I had truly realized HOW MUCH IMPORTANCE is placed on appearances.  How I dressed & presented myself would dictate how people I interacted with treated me in return.  Not a favorite trait from our society, but if you can’t beat em, join em.

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ARCH GRANTS LOCATION CONFLICT

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OK… UPDATE ON ARCH GRANT PROCESS….THERE’S ONE LITTLE PROBLEM…..

I emailed the committee through their website requesting permission to submit my business as a valid entry even though it wouldn’t be located within Downtown St. Louis, but IS still located within the city limits. I have yet to receive a decision…so I am currently stuck in limbo, but I am not stopping any momentum I am trying to build up.  I am continuing on as I have been for the past year, and hopefully will get a big thumbs up…soon. There are major reasons why I want to launch outside of downtown; which I expressed my main ones through my email to the Arch Grants, and wanted to express in a little more detail why I don’t feel downtown is the best market to consider at this time (not to exclude it completely from future local expansion plans)

1.) Limited pedestrian traffic, and limited vehicle traffic. — Yes, this area is rebuilding and rebounding, which is awesome and amazing, but it hasn’t yet hit it’s peak, and there is no guarantee that, once it is completed, that it will pull people back to the downtown area.  My business could actually have a GREATER chance of FAILING by simply having to “wait and see” if the area does in fact, rebound.  Currently,  I don’t see a lot of daytime traffic (pedestrian or vehicle) outside of Washington Ave. and Market St.  And even then, it is only certain blocks on Wash Ave and Market that would make it a viable market for my company.

I don’t have the time to wait for my target market to come to me, nor, do I have the extra finances to invest in additional marketing, advertising, and enticing promotions.  I have to go to them….SIMPLE!  I find locations that ALREADY have the pedestrian and vehicle traffic established, in combination with, my customer demographics. Downtown, currently, is a POSSIBLE market, but not appropriate for my action plan at this time…unfortunately.

2.) Not exactly an open market….anymore — My initial excitement about launching in downtown was the fact that it was an open market opportunity.  There were no current resale providers (with a positive public image) within the area. However, last June, MOV clothing store launched at Washington and 13th. (My Round 1 Arch Grant submission last Feb/March listed CTA’s location to be at or near Washington and 4th) One of my stronger advantages is locating open or under-served locations, and as closely located to my target market as physically possible. It’s having that “head-start” in building the company’s customer/client loyalty that will be a big factor in CTA’s overall sustainability, and most importantly, being EASILY ACCESSIBLE to my customers and clients.  I welcome the competition, but there are big perks in being first!

St. Louis (as a whole) is a very business-loyal community.  If you execute your business correctly, you will have loyal customers for life — FOR EXAMPLE:  The Coffee Cartel  (located at Euclid and Maryland in the CWE) is a single location, and yet, their customers and associates are so die-hard loyal that this one little St. Louis coffee shop put big ‘ol Starbucks (which was located across the street) out of business.

3.) Crime in downtown – Being a police dispatcher for areas bordering with St. Louis City, I hear of a lot more that goes on than what most St. Louis residents and businesses know of.  Most crimes never make it to the evening news, and my confidence is still insecure for a few different reasons that I can’t currently disclose of at this time (professional/political conflict of interest) but they are compelling.

4.) Target market conflict – Like I said before, my business needs to be located as close to my customers  as possible.  This is one of my marketing strategies that will greatly increase my appeal to my customers, the flow of customer traffic into the store, and provide me with an endless supply of potential employees.  I do not have this advantage if I launch in downtown right now. The building I have picked out to become my “living business model” has a large concentration of my target market located right across the street, and directly next door….no joke. This is an area that most in my position could only dream of having, and yet, here I am, looking at the big FOR SALE sign on the building and dying a bit inside by truly knowing its full potential.

……I am really hoping that they will accept my business submission, and that I will be able to confidently pursue the competition! Right now, only time will tell.

–FIN

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Insomnia – The Good Kind

I CAN’T SLEEP.  Most of the time I would be getting pissed right about now, complaining about a day that hasn’t happened yet, however, some of my insomnia nights are very beneficial to me.  I can’t sleep because I have millions of idea running through my head, and can’t seem to shut them off. So as I know one way to suppress them, is to write.

 

Now I understand why one of my lead  adviser told me to keep a pen and paper near by me at all times.  A Laptop will have to suffice.

ANYWAY….

I literally dream and visualize my entire company.  I see my company having multiple stores, and I know exactly how I would accomplish that. My strategies and how they would make me unique in the industry.  I can see the steps that I have to take to get exactly where I want my company to be. I know what I will have to sacrifice, but keeping myself focused on the ultimate goal doesn’t make them feel like sacrifices simply because; my company is worth it.  I honestly can’t visualize myself doing anything else for the next 20-35 years.  This is it.

If I can cross paths with a handful of other people that share my intensity for business and fashion.  This company would dominate the St.Louis-Midwest region.  Finding others like myself is proving to be a little more difficult than I imagined, but I know they are out there.  Just a matter of time.  So until then,  I will keep building what I can to get myself closer to where I want to be. 

Ultimate goal:  Be the leading branded chain-resale merchandise provider within a 50 mile radius of St. Louis.  (Give Plato’s Closet some healthy competition) 

 

 

BRING IT ON!

():-)

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