Then, a spark ignited. The spark started at the beginning of our senior year of college. Savannah and I were driving in the car to get dinner with our best friend Anica, talking about how amazing it would be to go to Disney over fall break. During the conversation, we looked at each other and realized that we could make our dream happen if we wanted to. We could go to Disney. We just had to stop dreaming and start making it happen. And so, two weeks later, we drove down to Florida and went to Disney. And it was one of the best times of my life. From that point on, we all began to look at life differently. We saw our dreams as something we could actually make happen if we set our minds to it. And it gave us hope.
The second spark ignited towards the end of our senior year in college. Savannah and I were working on a project for a class in which we had to create a business plan for a fake photography company. One night, we were sitting on the floor of our dorm room working on it, and we both realized that "we could actually do this whole business thing". Both of our eyes lit up with possibility and hope. We remembered our trip to Disney. And that started a whole slew of conversations about turning our dreams into a reality and owning a business together.
The first step of risk for Maiedae happened on January 5, 2011 (7 months after graduating college). Savannah and I were meeting at Panera during one of my visits to Atlanta. I was currently living in Rome, Georgia, and would travel down to Atlanta to work on Maiedae with Savannah every other weekend. We would typically sit on her living room floor and put together handmade hair pieces and jewelry (maybe you were even lucky enough to purchase one of those rare pieces!) Between making jewelry and hair pieces and taking photos out on the back porch, we would take breaks and go to Starbucks or Panera down the street to talk about our future dreams for Maiedae. We would sit and sip our coffee and have wonderful conversations about the business and where we wanted it to go.
This particular time, we were sitting in Panera, having one of our most joyful and passionate conversations that we've ever had at that point. Our combined passion and hope for the future were in full gear. With handmades, we had already started proving to ourselves that we could make things happen, but we realized some risk was needed. That night in Panera, it became clear to me that in order to make this work, I needed to move to Atlanta. This meant leaving everything I knew behind and moving to a city where I knew very few people, had absolutely no job prospects and no roommate. Security, comfort, and fear were holding me back, but I knew that it was a risk I had to take. And I saw an image of my little, happy, hopeful self saying, "You just have to go for it."
And so, a few months later, I moved. And it was extremely difficult. I went 4 months without a job, my car completely died, and I felt that I was being attacked on all sides. 2011 was one of the most challenging years of my life so far. But, the quote I remembered that year was that "great achievement is born of great sacrifice". And I knew that I had done the right thing.
Savannah and I spent the next year realizing the vision for Maiedae more clearly as we experimented with ideas, tried out new things, and narrowed down our focus.We developed a purpose statement for our business and marked 2012 as the year that we "refined" Maiedae. We continued to talk about going full-time with Maiedae in 2014 or later, just hoping that it could be sooner. Then, over this past Christmas break, Savannah realized that it was possible for her to quit her job. Like NOW. So suddenly, we were in a whirlwind of change for Maiedae preparing for Savannah to go full-time. Financially, Drew and I had some goals we still needed to meet, but I knew that the dreams we had worked so hard to make a reality were becoming REAL a lot faster than we were thinking they would. Savannah went full-time about a month ago. And everything has been in a crazy, wonderful, whirlwind since then. We've added more lovely clients, more dreams and goals for the future, and... most of all... even more passion than we've ever had for Maiedae. Big things are happening...
And now... I'm proud to announce that April 12th will be my last day at my 9-5 job.
I gave my boss my notice and I'm super excited ...and also a little nervous. I keep asking myself if this is real. And part of me still doesn't believe it. Taking risks is difficult and uncomfortable sometimes, but what I realized a long time ago is that you just have to go for it. Stop dreaming and start doing.