Moving from a small city, cushioned by fresh mountain air and surrounded by friends and family, to a city that moves at the speed of light, where no one knows your name, no one cares, and everyone knows their way to the subway but you -- that’s what being a first time entrepreneur feels like. And I know firsthand.
I was a bright eyed and bushy tailed 24-year-old when I moved to New York City from Reno, NV where I’d just received my B.A. in Journalism. After a summer of working two jobs bartending, tearing myself away from my group of great friends, with the endless summer days spent at Lake Tahoe and winters snowboarding down the mountains around us, was harder than I thought it’d be. 2,600 miles later, I arrived on a red eye flight at 5 am to a wall of humidity and everything I owned in two suitcases. Standing at the bottom of my new fourth floor walk-up in Brooklyn, I knew there was nowhere else I’d rather be.
That’s the kind of feeling I’ve gotten again and again as we’ve grown brüks bars over the past two and a half years -- we’re always standing, sweating at the bottom of a four story walk-up with everything we own in our two hands, knowing there’s nowhere else we’d rather be. (*Read more about my journey in New York at the bottom of this blog.)
Like most things in life, but particularly experiences in which we are somewhat lacking control, it’s hard to know how we’ll react until we get there. I’ve been asked many times by friends and family over the last five years since I moved if I miss the West Coast and if I regret moving. My answer is always: of course, and absolutely not. You see, for me, moving across the country was not the easy decision, but it was the RIGHT decision. I’ve called that decision many things over the years...intuition, a gut feeling, following my dreams...but whatever I call it, all I can describe it as is a feeling. An unrelenting fire that came from deep down inside, burning for a challenge that I knew would set my life on a different course, though I didn’t know the path at the time. Yet despite that, I still miss that West Coast air every single day.
As I’ve grown into the woman and business owner I am today, I see the parallels between making difficult life decisions and running a startup over and over. Every day is different, full of highs and lows, but the excitement comes from the unknown -- the possibility of growth, the promise of creativity and creation, the gift of being continually challenged, and the potential for things to go horribly wrong. ‘Entrepreneur’ is a title that has infinite descriptions, but the thread that runs through for us all is that feeling, the one that drives us. Fear is always present and for me, a driver toward success. It is embracing that fear that allows me to be at my best without letting it overcome.
Today, as the CEO of a real food snack bar company, every day is a challenge. I’m doing things I’m not used to that take me out of my comfort zone all the time, in every possible way. Not because it’s the easy thing to do, but because it’s the right thing to do. I take my role with great weight and responsibility - sometimes perhaps too much so- but it’s because this is very important to me. This business is not me, it’s not Sean, it’s not Pete, or our team. It is a separate entity that I have the privilege of helping grow into something we can all be proud of. It’s the ultimate reflection of who we are as people, and what we care about.
We’ve been asked often what it means to be an entrepreneur and I keep coming back to it. For me that word used to be singular with broad, sweeping, and an ambiguous meaning. Today, I see entrepreneurs as pebbles on the beach - as different in size, shape and color as possible. But the one thing that ties us all together is that to have success as an entrepreneur means doing something of value to you; whether that’s making money, changing the world, or something in between. For me, it means having the freedom to do something we believe in, and in our own way, however small, as one customer recently put it to us, “throw our pebble in the water and watch the ripple effect.”
To deliciously good health,
In a New York Minute:
I moved to New York in 2010, chasing the electricity, the vibration of a city that never sleeps. Since that morning I arrived in Brooklyn, which was more culture shock than moving to Spain, my world has changed completely. The scariest thing I’d ever done, became the best thing I ever did - and that calculated risk of leaving behind everything I knew set a new paradigm in my mind for what was possible.
In the big City, I ended up faking it till I made it. I worked for free, interning at any place that seemed interesting and could possibly relate to my degree in Integrated Marketing: a business-to-business PR firm on Wall Street, for the PR Director of a designer prepping for fashion week, and finally for the Advertising Director at a business leadership magazine called strategy+business. It was here where I burrowed my way into a full time position.
I met people and friends who completely changed my life. I got to tour Freedom Tower before it was completed where I stood on the cool empty floor of the skyscraper with 360 degree views of Manhattan. I met mob bosses and models, artists and entrepreneurs. I lived in Brooklyn at a time when Brooklyn was becoming the new Manhattan. I was wined and dined, while pinching my pennies. I ran the New York Marathon, and met my future husband. It was everything I knew it could be, and more.
Eventually, while waiting tables at a tiny Italian restaurant in SoHo, I met the woman who gave me my chance. She opened the door, and I knew I had my opportunity to create something from nothing. I turned a six week internship into a full-time paid position at their parent company in less than a year. I looked out the window of our offices every day, down at Grand Central Station and wondered how I’d ever arrived in this place. How does a small town girl wind up working here. Here, where I didn’t get a call back because of my resume from a non-Ivy League school, but in spite of it. Here where everyone I knew had an MBA or a degree from an Ivy. Here where people took cabs not the subway.
She fakes it till she makes it.
That job launched my career and my confidence. After about two years, I left that job that gave me the courage to believe in myself with a glowing annual review where I was noted by several senior partners as a “rising star.” Unheard of for someone at my level in the organization.
Soon after, we left New York and moved to Miami, FL for Sean’s graduate school. That’s when we created a recipe that would change our lives forever, the Original brüks bars.
"The quest to create something from nothing is a wholly irrational act. Do it ANYWAY." -Jonathan Fields