Two years ago my sister Tawny was laid off from her job after 25 years of working for her company. To give you a little backstory, my sister is anal retentive with her dedication, focus, professionalism, organization and drive. Her career was her life. She anticipated retiring from that company. She enjoyed her work and was good at it. But alas, companies don’t necessarily care about your dreams, retirement plans and goals when their bottom line is out of balance, they simply look for ways to cut the fat. And so, she and some of her colleagues got their pink slip, and learned of their fate, during a conference call. There are no words to describe her shock and pain. She was stunned and in tears after that call. Yes, she cried. She cried at the loss of what she knew, she cried at the callousness in their delivery, and she cried because of the uncertainty of her future. I shed tears for her too. I could only imagine what she was going through.
When I spoke with her, in the aftermath of this perceived crisis, she talked about being in her mid-forties and starting a job search, and she expressed the reality that it wasn’t likely she would be paid what she was making, as she didn’t have a college degree, she had simply worked her way up and was paid according to her skill set with that company. After browsing some job announcements, and going on one interview, she stopped looking. She decided if there was ever a time to pursue something she loved in an entrepreneurial sense, that now was the time.
Her focus turned inward. You see my sister is also incredibly creative, she always has been. She’s meticulous with projects. She has always had side jobs doing creative things, like baking personalized designer type cakes for special occasions, making and selling gift baskets, doing space decoration for friends and family and other creative things. And she was good at that too. So she decided that instead of running back out and just getting “a job” and being limited by what someone would pay, or risk being laid off again, she would use this break from corporate work and do what she loved creatively and give it everything she had.
She sat down with her husband Hurlie, and told him her decision. He told her to “go for it” and assured her that she had his full support. Now mind you, Hurlie was laid off as well that same year from his college coaching position. Talk about life changing moments and bravery! But anyway, for a woman who had worked a corporate job her whole life, and was used to certainty, this was a big decision. But despite those fears, off she went. Using the severance the company gave her, she started IslandGirlNaturalBeauty in her kitchen, in her home state of Florida. She researched, put everything into place, established a plan and went to work making the items from scratch. My other sister Tamara and their mutual friend the masseuse, Cara, joined in to physically support the venture.
Today the business is growing rapidly and each event lands a new connection with a new spa or new client that wants to carry the products. The community in Merrit Island, Florida is as supportive as a community can be. The island and the business work in tandem. In my sisters words “it has truly been a blessing”!
IslandGirlNaturalBeauty, offers organic products for your skin and home, as well as unique gift ideas like hand made gift baskets and jewelry. And people are loving the products! Whether it’s the Creamy Whipped Body Butter, the Oatmeal and Shea Butter soap, the silky Massage and Body Oils, the Natural Sea Salt Scrub, or the beautifully scented candles, there’s something in the store for everyone! Today, you can find IslandGirlNaturalBeauty at festivals, events and fair’s all over Florida, and at events in other nearby states. You can also order items directly from the website and have them shipped to your home or office.
In my sister’s words “sometimes it’s scary not having consistent income, like I was used to, and not knowing what amount of money each event will bring, but it’s so rewarding doing what I love, meeting people, building up my brand and offering a product that I can stand behind proudly”. She went on to say, “this wouldn’t have been able to happen, if I wouldn’t have been laid off. I would not have left my job to do this”.
To say I am proud of my sister and her brave venture, would be an understatement. She is an inspiration. Her company is on it’s journey. She is in the right place (an island), at the right time, with the right product and attitude. And she has the support of her community, her family and clients. My hope and prayer is that it will continue to thrive. She reminds me it’s more physical work than she’s ever done and that the days are long, but she is happy. Stories like this give me life. It just so happens, my sister, her bravery and her company, is the topic in this one.
Little did I know that a year and a half later, I too would be able to relate to her fears and story. On June 1, 2017, I too was laid off from my job of 6 years. This was the first time I had been laid off in my life. And the fact that I am in my early 50’s made it especially scary. And though I am still seeking the right opportunity back into main stream employment to stabilize my life and retirement future, I took my sisters lead and I also started a company called “Empowered Concepts by Rhonda Frost, LLC” dba “All the Way Woke”, and though it is in it’s infant stages(website is under construction, logo being created and so on… ), I am excited about this project, I believe in it and look forward to it going live. I will sell t-shirts, coffee mugs and other gift items, with messages of empowerment and inspiration. I hope to be fully operational well before the holidays.
To all of you who have been laid off or fired, or those who started from absolutely nothing with no hope in sight, let’s remember others who have also been through the same and turned out to be not only OK in the aftermath, but super successful, like Mark Cuban, the billionaire who was fired from his sales job, Oprah, who was fired from her night time reporter job, and J.K. Rowling the famed author, who was fired from her job as a secretary because she daydreamed and wrote stories from her work computer. Talk about rebounding!
And let us be mindful of this quote by Eckhart Tolle, one of the worlds leading spiritual teachers: “Some changes look negative on the surface but you will soon realize that space is being created in your life for something new to emerge.” Just think about that for a minute.
So don’t be discouraged. It’s ok to feel afraid(anyone stepping out of a comfort zone can relate to that). And it’s Ok to cry or vent if you need to, but staying there isn’t an option. The next phase of your life awaits!
Use this as a time to reboot, take a little vacation and sort through your goals and dreams. Then get your resume together, if that’s your intent, and get back out there. And if you’ve always wanted to be free and pursue a different career dream, now might be the time to do that. Gather your circle of friends and family members who love and support you, check in with your soul, put a plan together in plain sight, and become who you were meant to become and do what you were meant to do.
There is life after a “lay off”, and “termination”, it’s up to us to seek it, and pursue that next best thing, vigorously. And while at it, let’s support the small business, dreamers and visionaries by purchasing from them and sharing their story. Blessings!