Most of us remember where we were on September 11, 2001. The tragic events of that day left us with poignant memories of the first news we heard, the first images we saw, the first phone calls we made to loved ones and friends. For me, there were other firsts. That morning, I made my first hire at my new business, Rivanna Natural Designs. Coworker #1 was an environmental studies major who enthusiastically embraced my vision (somewhat radical at the time) of a small business that could make a difference in our community and be a friend to the environment. She and I met at a local coffee shop and, when I left our meeting, I was elated! This thoughtful, articulate young woman was perfect for Rivanna. I couldn’t wait for her to start.
Since there was no furniture in the space I had just leased on Allied Street (where we still are today), I returned to my home office to map out a plan for our first week of work together. The phone was ringing as I walked through the door. A friend of mine was crying. She told me to turn on the TV. I tuned in just in time to see the south tower fall.
Almost a decade later, the pain of that day still overwhelms me. I remember, too, the collective fear and overwhelming uncertainty that hung over us all. We didn’t know what would happen that evening, or the next day. We didn’t know how to think about our future.
I certainly didn’t know how to think about the future of Rivanna Natural Designs. I had never owned a business before. The company had been incorporated for 72 days. Our 3-year lease was 11 days old. We didn’t have any products. We didn’t have any clients. After months of meticulous research and planning, I suddenly had absolutely no idea what would happen next or what I should do next. As I stood in line for hours waiting to donate blood, I thought it was probably best to forget about the whole venture.
But, that very morning, I had met an extraordinary young woman and offered her a job. Her name was Danae Marshall. We had been together, talking about our dreams for a better world and sharing our ideas to make that happen, while the world outside was shattering in ways we could not have imagined. I had seen a brighter, better future in her young eyes and a determination on her part to make that future a reality. Come what may, I knew my future would be brighter because of her.
And so, that next Monday, Danae and I went to work at Rivanna. We painted our space, sourced environmentally-friendly materials, researched options for equipment, talked about products. We started with less gusto than we had anticipated but more resolve than we had known we possessed. We got stronger, and Rivanna got stronger, every day.
Danae lives in Europe now, following her dreams of making the world a better place. She has graciously agreed to be a contributor on our blog, and we’re grateful for this opportunity to share with her and learn from her. Rivanna’s success is due in no small part to Danae’s contributions over the years. She is, in fact, responsible for our very existence. Danae, we are grateful always. Welcome back!
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