Starting your own business is not easy. At first, I was like, Chelene, there is NO way so don’t even try. When you’ve been told your whole life that you can’t do something, you start to believe it. I decided to follow my heart and not give in to that narrative.
I realized pretty early on that I loved to teach and supporting and inspiring people was deeply ingrained in my marrow. I started out doing mini manuscript consults in my spare time, meeting with writers to talk about their writing, and really, just building connections and building trust. As time went on, I started getting emails from random folks who’ve heard about my work and wanted me to either work with them directly on their manuscripts, do a presentation on building community for their organization, or facilitate a workshop with their staff. Doing all of this on the side while writing, running a literary magazine, curating an annual festival, and being the solo parent to a growing teen forced me to see fairly quickly that I had to start prioritizing!
I learn differently, I teach differently, and I may very well run my business differently, but I make mistakes just like everyone else. In May of 2018 I was the successful candidate for, what seemed to me, a dream job. Executive director for a long-standing literary festival in Vancouver. I was absolutely thrilled when I was selected. Long story short, after my colleague and I looked at the books, we realized that this job was nothing but a sinking ship simply being handed off for someone to take the fall. It was the biggest “glass cliff” experience ever. I was gutted. Insert mistake #1 here.
After handing in my resignation to the board I figured I had better scrape myself back up because I had a lot to offer folks! I know it’s sort of cliche to say I had a lightbulb moment, but I did! It was right then and there that I decided I would work for myself, set my own standards for what a good leader should be and that I would put everything I had into sharing that with the world. When you work with me, I give you my all. That’s one thing I can promise. And that’s what folks are saying to me after working with me, “I didn’t expect to get as much as I did.”
So although we are just starting out,—and this whole thing began with just myself and my marketing assistant Jessica Kent—, we are building something for the future. In fact, this past summer we welcomed our new ads coordinator (and stellar writer) Carlie Blume. We are open to so many things, but at the heart of what we do … making sure folks get to share their stories authentically.