Culture 05 October 2017
"I just cannot get the image of the terror on the woman's face out of my mind," Lyft moonlighter and local agency Project Manager, Wendy Burney said in relation to one of the victim reactions during the country's largest shooting to date. I have never seen such a look of terror."
A Las Vegas resident since 2003, Wendy Burney echoed the sentiment of so many following this week's unimaginable massacre at Mandalay Bay and the Harvest 91 Festival.
Having just dropped passengers off near the 22,000-person event, the mother of three shared that she was initially more confused than scared when the first shots rang out.
"It took me a while to realize it was gun fire, just like everyone else."
T-shirts turned tourniquets for bullet holes in the McDonald's parking lot across from Mandalay Bay as Wendy Burney was detained with other attendees by SWAT until approximately 3 AM.
"The police, SWAT, military and early responders were absolutely incredible," she adds. "In a time of so much unrest, not one single public officer was anything but compassionate, calm, skilled and respectful. There were no condescending or apathetic tones. We were all just humans."
Photo Courtesy of Katie Berney
Meanwhile, fellow Lyft Driver, Katie Berney, (no relation) was experiencing a very different set of events unfold around her. Also dropping passengers at Mandalay Bay, she tried her best to flee the scene as she too realized that the "fireworks" were actually gunfire, and she was right in the middle of it all.
"I was already nervous, shaking and in shock and I wanted to leave. A police officer stopped me and said: 'back up, back up!'" says Burney who made a U-turn to accommodate the officer and four bloody women jumped into her van. Despite there only being one wound on the ladies they were soaked with the blood of other attendees. "I felt bad for the wounded, and the family for the wounded, but the women with me were afraid and begged me not to stop any more (for anyone else), and so I did not and we just focused on escaping." Says Berne, "Honestly its a bad nightmare for me, when I close my eyes and I see a (certain) guy asking me for a ride. It is like a movie and it's really happening and I am so sorry (for not stopping)."
Katie, also a mother, says she needs a sleeping aide to even attempt sleep at this point and is anxious to talk to anyone associated with the event in hopes of finding peace or serenity, and a way to move forward with her life. The sounds of screams, the shots (including a nine-minute straight round) and the chaos seem to be some of the hardest portions of the massacre to forget.
Photo Courtesy of Brad Jones
"I can still hear it all in my ears, and in my mind," Burney concludes. "There are so many who have lived much more tragic versions of this event and night, you almost feel guilty even feeling the trauma if you were not one of the fathers laying on top of his children to shield them, or a surgeon up for over 24 straight hours dealing with the 515 hospitalized and wounded. And yet, this happened to all of us, everyone has been affected in some way by this really delusional man, and it is haunting. How do we all move on?"
In a city known for celebrity chefs, smokey casinos and bright lights, it is easy to forget that Las Vegas is a community filled with 2.1 million residents. 2.1 million teachers, kids, employees, companies, churches and more.
So many things went right on a night filled with so much wrong. The emotional intelligence of officers and police on the scene was just incredible. Their calm demeanors and quick reactions fostered a sense of organized response amongst the chaos of blood, death and confusion.
Photo Courtesy of Brad Jones
It wasn't just police officers there to mitigate stress. The Shell station on Las Vegas Blvd. and Mandalay Bay Drive handed out free waters to all who entered, strangers helping strangers in the most intimate of ways. Random drivers took the wounded, children and visitors to local hospitals.
Uber offered free rides, and Lyft offered bonuses to all of the Las Vegas drivers who worked this week despite the fact that tourism came to a screeching halt. The Clark County School District Superintendent excused absences from schools, calling parents to offer support while Evel Pie supplied free pizzas to officers and first responders working round the clock to make our city safe again. Blood bank donation lines started at 3 AM on the morning of the shooting, with Las Vegas residents ready to offer whatever they could to help those in need. And for those affected psychologically, MGM Resorts is offering free therapy to those who attended and were affected by the shooting.
The stage and stage lights at the Harvest 91 Festival remain untouched and fully assembled. A silent reminder that we will remain #VegasStrong.
While we may not understand the motivations of the shooter Stephen Paddock and why he reaped so much havoc on Americas glittering city. It is important we have more than just prayers during this time and that we work to initiate change to stop tragedies like this from happening.
Photo Courtesy of Brad Jones
"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.