What’s in a random meeting that can change how you may be feeling in that moment or that can inspire your life (or that of another’s) in ways you never thought possible.
I have been working with Whole Food Markets – an organic food store chain and wanted to check out their latest store in the north part of Toronto this past weekend. This road trip gave me views of rolling fields where farmers are preparing corn for winter silage. I was struck by the orderly pattern the harvester was making around the fields as though it had followed the same straight lines carved in the soil for many years. Of course we know there are no straight lines in those fields or in life itself.
I thoroughly enjoyed the new store; seeing the number of small families, couples, singles, older and younger alike combing through their grocery list, asking questions of the customer service team and those of us there to ‘check out’ everything.
However, the highlight of my day was meeting Colleen Lowe, owner of Enfleurage Organics (www.enfleurage-organics.com). Giving a demonstration in the crowded aisle of healthier choice cosmetics, Colleen caught my attention by asking me if I wanted a mini aromatherapy massage demonstrating her line of handmade soaps. She presented herself dressed in professional greens with her company name embroidered boldly on the chest, which got my attention.
Colleen proudly explained she is an artisan soap supplier for all the all the Whole Food Markets Ontario stores. Impressed I asked question after question and received a glimpse of an entrepreneur at work. I was amazed at how she went from being downsized one second and able to see the opportunity of a lifetime ..in her words ‘by the time I reached the parking lot’. Many of you have had this experience so you know how crippling it can be.
As I listened to Colleen she was constantly watching the crowd for signs of interested passerbys. When that happened I quietly slipped around the corner yet was drawn back to our conversation knowing there was a genuine connection.
At one point Colleen shared business cards with a contact from another mega health store located closer to the Downtown. She immediately recognized it as another huge opportunity for her quickly expanding company.
What I liked about Colleen was her lovely smile, genuine authenticity, her openness, and an earthiness that spoke to her own health. What I connected too were her ‘gutsy entrepreneurism’ and personal values, and her willingness to succeed or sometime fail yet learn from it all.
Upon return home I quickly emailed her and she shared more of her story.
In Colleen’s own words…This evening I was chatting with one of my Board of Directors (3 close girlfriends I call my Board as they listen and also pass along ideas for products and growth) about meeting you. Kathy, my story has even more impact as to the power of women – I am a cancer survivor who decided while laying about recovering that I had a mission to fulfill. I wanted to help others lead a healthier life and I knew that my soaps and my aromatherapy training were going to be a part of it somehow. Three years later I was moving to Oakville. I’d declared bankruptcy while sick as I didn’t have the strength to work or fight the creditors. One evening while out with my girlfriends I said “After I move to Oakville I’m going to soap again”. Two weeks later one of my girlfriends sent me the announcement of an organic market opening in Oakville and they were looking for artisan crafters. All she wrote on that email was, “The Universe heard you! Read below”.
By the way Kathy, I did go back to work at my f/t office position 9 years ago, before I had my strength recovered, then back to my p/t job but left it a short while later for a better p/t job which I held for 3 years. That provided me with the resources to survive and start buying supplies.
Six and a half years after that fateful email, you met me, all because of a desire to live and give back and follow my passion.
Just like the invisible lines in the fields of corn that generation after generation of farmer follows so do we as entrepreneurs. Only our lines in the earth are rarely straight yet Colleen is a wonderful example of following our hearts, our guts, a mission and our Faith.
In Colleen inspirational words… If my story gives inspiration to any woman thinking of going into her own business or is in her own business and wondering how she’ll ever make it to tomorrow or the day after, I’d be so blessed. We may be sole proprietors but we are a TEAM of Women Entrepreneurs … hear us ROAR !!
I am inspired by Colleen and once again I learned the lesson that I am not always the one in charge of my own path. I could have stayed home that fateful day yet something kept drawing me to driving to the store. Karma? Call it what you like … I believe in God’s hand on the steering wheel of life on this one.