My first 60-days with New Hope Girls has nearly lapsed. Wow, what a beautiful journey these last two months have been. Although, if I am being honest (which I am), I feel like I have been with them forever. I have been connected to our organization for about 4 years, in some capacity. But this formal role as a staff member has felt like coming home. Every component of who I am feels valued, used, and celebrated within this social entrepreneurship role. I am left feelings amazed and blessed to be able to serve in this way all day, every day.
As I reflect on the last two months I have 6 key takeaways to share.
1. The Social Entrepreneurship Community is Incredible.
The first work-event I attended after accepting my new leadership role was a grand opening of a new concept store, established by Vera Bradley. The store, goodMRKT, is a brick and mortar in which every brand is purpose-driven. New Hope Girls is a featured brand in this landmark and innovative collective. It was surreal to be at such a significant event, surrounded by other leaders who are using business for good. I felt energized by their passion and purposes and was inspired by how they are leading their organizations. The other leaders were so authentic in our conversations and generous with advice and support. I love being in a community where there is space for everyone to rise and succeed – true collaboration over competition.
2. There Will be Heavy Days.
My most critical stakeholders, the women and girls of New Hope Girls, are not within arm’s reach. At times, it feels hard to have such physical distance between us. It is especially hard when I learn of the specific challenges they are experiencing on their healing and transformation journeys. The other day our girls shared prayer requests and my heart ached for the battles they are facing and the heaviness they feel. Being state-side, I can’t easily show up to hug, hold hands, and support in person. In these moments I have to remember the importance of my role in the organization and how I am using business to break cycles of exploitation.
3. Simply Show Up.
Taking on a new leadership role with an international organization can feel intimidating, even to the most seasoned and confident leader. However, I am reminded over and over again that showing up is such a large part of the journey to success. I don’t need to have all the answers, but I do need to be all-in and fully present with the work I do and people I serve. Simply showing up will leave an impact.
4. If Someone Wants to Give, Find a Way to Let Them.
Our Executive Director, Joy Reyes, has been great to coach me in my understanding of working with donors in the non-profit context. Early on, she helped me realize if someone asks to contribute to our work, we need to find a way to let them – even if it takes getting creative.
This recently turned out amazing when a former employee of mine texted and asked if there was anything he could do to support New Hope Girls. He is a photographer, so I immediately asked for support with lifestyle photos including our newest product release. What began as that one simple text message exchange resulted in a photoshoot with two photographers, twelve models, and four assistants. The photographs are stunning and now used on our website and across social media channels. This all happened because when one of my friends was feeling generous, I knew to find a way to help him give.
5. This is a Create-Your-Own Adventure.
Serving in a social entrepreneurship role is a create-your-own adventure career. I love how agile and flexible my workdays are and that our organization is aligned around strategy but also holds space for spontaneity. It leaves me feeling like adventure and opportunity is around every corner. There is freedom and fun in this reality and also a serious responsibility to be a good steward with that which has been entrusted to me! It is electrifying.
6. People Make this Possible
Thank you to everyone who has been following along! It has meant so much to have caring people who have locked arms with me along the way. I am absolutely certain the first 60 days have been amazing because of the big-hearts and brilliant-minds that are aligned around New Hope Girls.
I have been blessed by consistent support from my mentor, Rob. Joy, our executive director makes herself available for support, feedback, or brainstorming fun. My creative partner, Corinne, is great for discerning feedback and great solutions. Adam, my husband, is such a great processing partner and celebrates the blessing this role is for me. My parents are perpetual proofreaders and one of the first calls I make when something exciting happens. My sister-in-law is my cheerleader and helps me unpack ideas and challenges. And my good friend Tom has generously poured into me through his extensive sales experience. Harry has been a source of creative enthusiasm and Pam has been a rock when it comes to operations. Wanda is a warrior and keeps our workshop humming (and keeps me busy naming fabric!).
Our team, near and far, is experienced, kind-hearted, and generous. What is extra-special about the list above is that I work from home and am a remote employee. Point being, it doesn’t take physical proximity to have meaningful relationships and powerful interactions. I have realized that we decide the strength of the relationships in our lives – not geography.