Knots are in my stomach as I sit at my mother’s kitchen table frantically texting my programmer, checking my website, and watching the clock. We’re supposed to go to dinner in 15 minutes. My business is supposed to launch in 10 minutes. They have no idea how nervous I am. This is me. Chasing my dream and scared to death. I’m taking a leap of faith that this is the path I’m supposed to go down. There are so many things I don’t know. Am I going to fail? How will I deal with the financial impact if it doesn’t work? How will I deal with the embarrassment of a failed business venture? What will I tell people? I’m a teacher. What do I know about running a business? These are all questions that I frequently dwelled on. They could, at times, be debilitating. The fear of failure can be powerfully paralyzing when it comes to starting something new. So why did I keep going in spite of everything stacked against me? There was one simple question that trumped the rest.
What if it works?
Four words held my future and all its possibilities. Four words gave me hope. At that time in my life, hope is exactly what I needed.
When telling or writing this story, my mood starts to shift ever so slightly. My mind drifts back to all the good days and then, inevitably, to the days that shook me to my core. But it’s impossible to tell the story of Plum and Violet without telling you the tragic parts too.
Years ago, not long after my daughter Olivia was born, I came up with this idea that I wanted to own my own business. My husband Daniel and I came up with so many ideas, but there wasn’t one in particular that I was excited about. That’s when I realized my business needs to be about something I know and love, something I’m good at and passionate about. So what do I love? My daughter. Of course my business has to be about little girls and the stuff they (and their mothers) love! My little Olivia became the inspiration and my business model. No seriously, she’s my little brand model. She models everything that comes in her size! I LOVE dressing her, shopping for her, finding accessories for her. I’m so thankful she loves clothes as much as I do. In fact, she loves clothes so much, it’s not uncommon for her to be in a completely different outfit when she wakes up in the morning … unbeknownst to me!
Now the hard part started. How does one start a business, especially if you’ve never been the boss of anything except the 22 first graders that sat in your classroom from August to May? Well, I got the ball rolling. I took small steps and figured things out.
I just thought that was the hard part. In March of 2012, six months into our planning and dreaming, Daniel passed away in a car accident. My world came crumbling down. That time of my life is not one I look back on fondly. Instead of planning dinner, I was planning a funeral. Where would the burial take place? What hymns would be sung? Then I had to go home and take care of our 19-month old daughter. I thank God everyday for Olivia. During that time, she was the only reason I got out of bed. She was, and is, my saving grace.
Surviving and taking care of Olivia became top priority, which left no time to even think about my business. Everyday life was overwhelming. Thinking of Plum and Violet was too much. I closed my business accounts and shut the door on that dream. I had been with Daniel since I was 16. He took care of everything. He took care of me. I didn’t know how to be me without him. Besides, I had to figure out how to be a single parent now. I had no one there with me everyday to ask, “How do you think we should handle this with Olivia?” There was no one there to back me up or reassure me that I was doing the right thing. Parenting is hard, especially if you don’t know if you’re on the right track. I don’t want to “do a great job for a single parent.” I want to do a great job period. I don’t want to be excused because Daniel is no longer here. The only one who suffers there is Olivia. My goal is to create stability in her life while still giving her the experiences that she would have had if her Daddy were still here.
It’s been more than two years since Daniel passed. Olivia and I have gone through so many changes. I still struggle. Seeing old friends, hearing an old song, or Olivia doing something new and awesome brings tears to my eyes. Not at that moment, but later when I reflect on how these things make me feel, that’s when I miss Daniel the most. You probably wouldn’t know it though. There are times when the smile you see isn’t quite genuine. It’s just masking what I’m feeling on the inside for your sake. I still make people feel a bit uncomfortable. They don’t exactly know what to do or say for fear of making me burst into tears. I’m not going to lie; it still happens, though not nearly as frequently as before. I still cry.
I still grieve for Daniel, for the life together we lost, for the life I was supposed to have with him.
How do I move forward while grieving? When am I going to get better? Surely after all this time I have to be “better”, right? I’m going to “get through” the grief, right? Sadly, no. Grief isn’t something you “get through.” You carry it with you. There was a turning point though. I realized that losing Daniel was never going to stop hurting. I could be ninety years old and still become sad at the thought of losing him. BUT, moving forward with my life does not mean that I have forgotten Daniel. It does not mean that just because I’m choosing to live my life that he didn’t mean the world to me. I still carry him with me every single day. It’s hard to forget him when his daughter stares up at me with her daddy’s eyes. I’m thankful for every little piece of him she got, from the way her toenails are shaped to the little dimple in her ear.
Slowly, I realized that my dreams hadn’t died with Daniel. In fact, they were more alive than ever. Right along with my dream was this desire to make him proud of me. So how did I decide to follow the dream Daniel and I started? How am I doing what I love? Plum and Violet, my other child. Plum is my way of giving other moms chances to create memories with their littles while bringing beauty into their lives. These are two things that I hold very dear. The world was a dark place for me after I lost Daniel. But, I looked at my daughter and very quickly decided I didn’t want that for her. I wanted her to have a full and beautiful life filled with wondrous memories. I want other moms to have that too. That has become my mission. To give moms a little more time, twice a month I put together specially thematically curated collections of unique little girl clothing, accessories, and activities that are not only beautiful, but give parents the opportunity to truly create great memories. I want to make life a little easier and a little sweeter because hard working moms and dads deserve that and so do their children.
In my life, I’ve learned first hand some really hard lessons. We are not guaranteed tomorrow. Our lives, no matter how perfect or hard, can change in an instant. I don’t want my daughter to see me as a victim of circumstance. I want her to see someone who didn’t give up. I expect what happened to Daniel and to our family will stay with me forever. But realizing that I can still live and follow my dreams is empowering and liberating. No matter where this road takes me, I won’t give up.