I have a florist. I’m not sure if all of you have a florist. I’m sure some of you have hair stylists or plumbers, or mechanics, but if you don’t have a florist I would be happy to direct you to mine! Although I don’t buy enough flowers, when I do, she is my girl. She is a floral artists who transforms her medium into wonderful displays. I’ll be honest with you though, although her work is out out of this world, her story is what won my loyalty. I knew Michelle, before she was the artist, owner, operator of Chartreuse Flowers. I had the opportunity to work with her for a season and she was quirky and fun and brought life and joy to that building each and every day. She took her creativity and qualifications to a startup business program in the city that helped her open the doors to her unique shop that matches her personality. She quickly became well known for delivering flowers to other small businesses, and her card – a chartreuse bookmark. It was a novel ideal.
Recently an article was written about my fiancé and his startup company. It talked about how he is a volunteer firefighter in a rural community and saw a need for safety and water conservation. It talked about his earlier years, dropping out of high school for health reasons and an opportunity to work in the family business, until a series of unfortunate events in the market led him to finish his education and get a college diploma. It spoke about the contacts he made and a little about the testing and trials that took place that led them to having an incredible life saving product that is ready for market with a USDA certification.
This article made Quincy uncomfortable. It wasn’t just about the product, or the company – it was his story. I was delighted! That company, that product IS his story! I told him that we think that government officials, big CEO’s and multi-million dollar business men buy logically, but the truth is that we ALL buy emotionally. Not just me buying flowers from the florist I like the best, but all of us.
Having witnessed this story unfold for the past four and a half years I feel like so much more could have been written. Every bump along the way was a lesson. Every person who hindered instead of helped or even tried to steal their idea, every lawyer that made this story possible as well as impossibly long, every new formula to get just the right one, every partner disagreement or personal ups and downs, every late Friday night in the office or early morning road trips.
The passion that he has poured into their product not to mention the blood, sweat and tears were not displayed in this short article, but I hope some day it is told. I want people to hear about the characters he’s met along the way and the people who opened doors for him and lifted him up. Someday I want to read about how a billion dollar company was conceived in a garage in Lennox and Addington Township, birthed in a home office with three small children, and nursed in a busy communal office space in Napanee. I hope he gets to stand before peers and talk about his roughest days, when he looked beaten and downhearted at his poorest and weakest, and how he took every experience he was given, every problem that needed solving, and every opportunity that was handed to him and built a better future.
Because as much as I personally love his story, especially how I weave into it, I know that it’s not through science and data that he will build connections, but through vulnerabilities and a very clear answer to “why”. Why did he start in this business? Why has he poured himself into this project for five years? For him, those answers aren’t about money or flexibility of hours, or any number of nonsense reasons people pursue self-employment. For him it’s about community. The time, money, lives and property that his product can save; the water that can be conserved and the environment that can be protected.
Don’t shy away from your story. It is what separates you from the pack. Even if you don’t own your business, your story is valuable in the job market, in your career and in your life and legacy. What is your story? What is your why? Please share in the comments.