Being raised Catholic was not my choice. And I questioned it constantly. Part of being Catholic then was learning that there were things you never talked about and never asked about (even if you thought about them constantly). That may still be the case, but I chose to leave Catholicism decades ago.
The phrase "the elephant in the room" comes to mind for such topics. Growing up I felt like there were twenty full-grown elephants in every room at all times, squishing me to the point where I couldn't breathe. Things like, just go to church and don't ask why you have to every Sunday, or we know Uncle Charlie is an alcoholic but just ignore that he just drank an entire bottle of wine at dinner.
As soon as I was brave enough to, I vowed that I would live a life without elephants in the room. Unless I was at the zoo or a nature preserve because I do love elephants—unfortunately for them, their size works really well for this metaphor. I've been living an elephant-free life for some time now and frankly do not know very many others who do. Folks seem okay with keeping particular topics under wraps even if they are losing their minds about them on the inside.
While it was groundbreaking when introduced in 2006, the #metoo movement, which was "founded to help survivors of sexual violence, particularly Black women and girls, and other young women of color from low income communities find pathways to healing," has morphed into a platform for blame and shame to expose and crucify men—oftentimes, unjustly. Look, I've seen my share of men behaving badly or downright inappropriately and getting away with it, but the vast number of men are good people who respect women (likely because they had mothers who would kill them if they didn't).
Girls are generally taught to not display aggression, but we can still show them how to be strong and empowered while being respectful and commanding respect in return. I certainly have no tolerance for any type of domestic abuse situation or sexual harassment of any kind and wholeheartedly believe in education and intervention.
But this movement has inadvertently created a society of distrust and fear—men in the workplace and social situations don't know if they can compliment a woman without fear of retaliation or if they can volunteer to mentor a woman without being accused of misconduct, etc. The workplace at-large requires that men and women respect each other and work together, not create platforms that further divide us. It's just not healthy.
"But this movement has inadvertently created a society of distrust and fear"
Women need to be able to clearly delineate between behavior classified as intimidation or threats from an unwanted pass and a genuine compliment. I, for one, would like to see men continue opening doors and holding elevators for women—that's chivalry, a concept that's been around since medieval times. I am confident enough in my own abilities and how I present myself to the world to not need reinforcement from a man; but if a man says I look nice today, I'm going to thank him for noticing. Just as I would if another woman said the same thing.
My son, who I believe has a high level of respect for women and sees women as equals, was shocked when I told him that I believed the #metoo movement has many unintended consequences; he called me an anomaly. To the contrary—I've had a number of one-off or small group conversations with affluent, professional, smart/savvy women who have confided the same view but would never say that openly for fear of negatively affecting their careers or how the carpool moms might see them.
"My son, who I believe has a high level of respect for women and sees women as equals, was shocked when I told him that I believed the #metoo movement has many unintended consequences; he called me an anomaly"
I feel like I am in a minority of women who have a solid core of self-confidence, are bold enough to stand tall, and choose to (respectfully) escort the elephant right out of the room. How do you define yourself, how many elephants are in your room and what are you going to do about it ?
- #MeToo has led to a rise in harassment claims — and retaliation - Vox ›
- #MeToo: Social media flooded with personal stories of assault - CNN ›
- The #MeToo Moment - The New York Times ›
"Steal the mesh underwear you get from the hospital," a friend said upon learning I was pregnant with my first daughter.
It was the single best piece of advice I received before giving birth in December 2013. My best friend delivered her daughter eight months previously, and she was the first to pass along this shared code among new moms: you'll need mesh underwear for your at-home postpartum recovery, and you can't find them anywhere for purchase. End result: steal them. And tell your friends.
My delivery and subsequent recovery were not easy. To my unexpected surprise, after almost 24 hours of labor, I had an emergency C-section. Thankfully, my daughter was healthy; however, my recovery was quite a journey. The shock to my system caused my bloated and swollen body to need weeks of recovery time. Luckily, I had trusted my friend and followed her instructions: I had stolen some mesh underwear from the hospital to bring home with me.
Unfortunately, I needed those disposable underwear for much longer than I anticipated and quickly ran out. As I still wasn't quite mobile, my mother went to the store to find more underwear for me. Unfortunately, she couldn't find them anywhere and ended up buying me oversized granny panties. Sure, they were big enough, but I had to cut the waistband for comfort.
I eventually recovered from my C-section, survived those first few sleepless months, and returned to work. At the time, I was working for a Fortune 100 company and happily contributing to the corporate world. But becoming a new mom brought with it an internal struggle and search for something “more" out of my life--a desire to have a bigger impact. A flashback to my friend's golden piece of advice got me thinking: Why aren't mesh underwear readily available for women in recovery? What if I could make the magical mesh underwear available to new moms everywhere? Did I know much about designing, selling, or marketing clothing? Not really. But I also didn't know much about motherhood when I started that journey, either, and that seemed to be working out well. And so, Brief Transitions was born.
My quest began. With my manufacturing and engineering background I naively thought, It's one product. How hard could it be? While it may not have been “hard," it definitely took a lot of work. I slowly started to do some research on the possibilities. What would it take to start a company and bring these underwear to market? How are they made and what type of manufacturer do I need? With each step forward I learned a little more--I spoke with suppliers, researched materials, and experimented with packaging. I started to really believe that I was meant to bring these underwear to other moms in need.
Then I realized that I needed to learn more about the online business and ecommerce world as well. Google was my new best friend. On my one hour commute (each way), I listened to a lot of podcasts to learn about topics I wasn't familiar with--how to setup a website, social media platforms, email marketing, etc. I worked in the evenings and inbetween business trips to plan what I called Execution Phase. In 2016, I had a website with a Shopify cart up and running. I also delivered my second daughter via C-section (and handily also supplied myself with all the mesh underwear I needed).
They say, “If you build it, they will come." But I've learned that the saying should really go more like this: “If you build it, and tell everyone about it, they might come." I had a 3-month-old, an almost 3 year old and my business was up and running. I had an occasional sale; however, my processes were extremely manual and having a day job while trying to ship product out proved to be challenging. I was manually processing and filling orders and then going to the post office on Saturday mornings to ship to customers. I eventually decided to go where the moms shop...hello, Amazon Prime! I started to research what I needed to do to list products with Amazon and the benefits of Amazon fulfillment (hint: they take care of it for you).
Fast forward to 2018...
While I started to build this side business and saw a potential for it to grow way beyond my expectations, my corporate job became more demanding with respect to travel and time away from home. I was on the road 70% of the time during first quarter 2018. My normally “go with the flow" 4-year-old started to cry every time I left for a trip and asked why I wasn't home for bedtime. That was a low point for me and even though bedtime with young kids has its own challenges, I realized I didn't want to miss out on this time in their lives. My desire for more scheduling flexibility and less corporate travel time pushed me to work the nights and weekends needed to build and scale my side hustle to a full-time business. If anyone tries to tell you it's “easy" to build “passive" income, don't believe them. Starting and building a business takes a lot of grit, hustle and hard work. After months of agonizing, changing my mind, and wondering if I should really leave my job (and a steady paycheck!), I ultimately left my corporate job in April 2018 to pursue Brief Transitions full-time.
In building Brief Transitions, I reached out to like-minded women to see if they were experiencing similar challenges to my own--balancing creating and building a business while raising children--and I realized that many women are on the quest for flexible, meaningful work. I realized that we can advance the movement of female entrepreneurs by leveraging community to inspire, empower, and connect these trailblazers. For that reason, I recently launched a new project, The Transitions Collective, a platform for connecting community-driven women entrepreneurs.
As is the case with many entrepreneurs, I find myself working on multiple projects at a time. I am now working on a members-only community for The Transitions Collective that will provide access to experts and resources for women who want to leave corporate and work in their business full-time. Connecting and supporting women in this movement makes us a force in the future of work. At the same time, I had my most profitable sales quarter to date and best of all, I am able to drop my daughter off at school in the morning.
Mesh underwear started me on a journey much bigger than I ever imagined. They sparked an idea, ignited a passion, and drove me to find fulfillment in a different type of work. That stolen underwear was just the beginning.