Knowing my life’s purpose never came easily to me, how is that some people just know they want to be a lawyer from age 11 or a doctor or a fashion designer? I spent hours making mental lists of strengths and weaknesses, trying to figure out just what exactly I was good at. There were a couple of hints, but I wasn’t really sure how to put them all together. I knew that I was a go-to counselor for many of my friends, I was the first person to call in case of crisis – my boyfriend left, my parents are getting divorced, I’m just upset and I don’t know why – yes, those conversations and more came my way, and I actually enjoyed helping my friends through all these situations. I was the decorator for all my friends and even some of my family, choosing paint colors, pictures, and designs for their homes. I knew I was good at that too. I was a traveler, traveling to as many places as I could afford on my meager salary and time off. And I knew what drove me crazy, even though I couldn’t articulate it at the time. Being in one location behind a desk absolutely bored me. I would get antsy, so listless, and distracted – a feeling akin to being stuck in an airplane seat and having to just move about the cabin to stretch my mind just as much as my limbs. I came to realize later in life that I am not a good desk person. In other words, I need freedom – to think, to create, to come into myself.
My epiphany came to me when I was 24 years old, sitting alone on a bench in beautiful Huntington Park in San Francisco. It was one of those fall days where the sun was shining and I felt both the briskness and warmth of the rays on my skin. I was staring at lovely three-tiered fountains and watching the water cascade down in the pools below. Of course, I was thinking my same mental tape, what was I going to do for my career anyway? Is there a path for my interests and talents? Some kind of career choice that wraps them all up into one big offering to the world? What is it, what is it? Then it hit me, really like nothing I’ve channeled before or since. It was like the idea just came to me in a flash. Was it divine intervention, was it a gift from another dimension, I really didn’t know. What I did understand was the power of the idea when it came to me and how it has always been a part of me ever since. The clarity of that vision still astounds me, and while I can’t really explain how to it was imparted to me, it did always feel like some kind of true gift.
My idea was Purple Nest. No, I didn’t have a name for it at the time but there it was, clear as day. I envisioned working with women overseas in a respectful way that valued them for their knowledge and skills. I wanted to bring unique home décor items to the United States in a manner that would give a portion of the money earned back to the communities from which it came. At that time, there were not many fair trade stores, or even much talk about socially responsible businesses. The internet was really just starting to take off. And while my idea has morphed over time the essence of it has really stayed the same.
It turns out that dreaming up the business was the easy part. The logistics of starting a socially responsible home décor import business consumed me. My mind raced, how do I chose the right home décor items while working and paying my bills on limited vacation time? How do I get the goods here, through boats, airplanes, and customs? How do I navigate marketing and selling the items here in the U.S.? What if it fails? And the scariest of all, what if I don’t possess the right mix of talent/intelligence/skills/abilities (it depended on the day which one I chose to fixate on) to run this business? It paralyzed me. And even though I’d gone to an ivy league grad school and accomplished some pretty amazing things, at my core I wasn’t confident enough to do it. I believed the stories in my head more than the outward accolades. I had a successful career (albeit at a desk), got married, had 3 amazing kids, and then time just passed.
So I can’t say what changed exactly, perhaps it was a mid-life crisis in my early 40s, or the coming into my own skin, or a “screw it, I don’t care anymore I’m just going to give this a real try”, or maybe I just got tired of thinking about it day in and day out, and most probably it was a combination of it all. But here I am despite all that ready to truly take the plunge – succeed or fail. I won’t go to my grave wondering what if, or I should have, or could I have done it? I will know that I gave my best, with all my accumulated knowledge, life experience, mom skills, and confidence that I really did take the chance and seize it to make my dream happen. One of my favorite quotes, especially now that you know a bit about my story, is from LL Cool J. He said, “Dreams don’t have expiration dates.” I think that pretty much speaks to the heart of it all. Just go out and do it, no matter how long it’s been in your heart.
So here it is Purple Nest Design, 20 years in the making.