This is a guest post from Tricia Hexter. I invited Tricia to share her amazing story after she reached out to me via my blog after reading a post she discovered on Twitter. Once I heard her story, I knew she had to share it with more people. Her story is inspiring, and her courage/generosity is admirable.
My life has been more like a book than a blog post, so I guess I’ll start with our abrupt life change in 2010. We moved to Michigan after my husband lost his job in NY. It was an extremely difficult time. We were fortunate that my husband’s work ethic had preceded him and he found another job within a few weeks. Our kids were 2, 4 and 7 when we moved across the country, away from our family and friends, to call Grosse Pointe Park, MI home.
In the eyes of my children, we were going on an “adventure”! Our kids’ lives (and ours) were full of adventure, exploration and establishing ourselves that summer of 2010. Well, just after a year of living here, I was diagnosed with Stage 3, Grade 3 Invasive Ductal Carcinoma (Breast Cancer). I had to have the most aggressive form of chemotherapy and treatment for 9 months, followed by 5 surgeries.
Having spent so much time making good friends and building relationships in our new town we call home proved to be what saved my life…and my family’s, too. You see, having 3 kids is not easy. Then throw in a sick mom, a zillion doctor’s appointments, a distracted dad who is trying to learn what is going on with his wife, go to work, come home to a household to run – it’s truly the makings of a disaster!
Well, within days, a meal schedule was up. We had 9 months of meals delivered 3 days a week. Yup, you heard that right – 9 months of meals!!! My friends harmonized and worked out a schedule for getting my kids to and from school, to activities and everything in between. It was incredible, to say the least.
I could probably dedicate a whole chapter of a book to all the nice things that were done for my family and me during this heinous time. There really is no way to appropriately say thank you, so I took a different approach: I decided to do good back.
Right before my last surgery, a friend of mine from college had called and approached me with a business opportunity. I knew the timing of things was really not great for starting a business, but I told her I would think about it. I called her the next day and told her to sign me up! I was now an independent stylist for a women’s accessory brand called Stella & Dot.
I decided that since I was up to my eyeballs in medical debt, the commission I made from my sales would go directly to families going through a difficult time. By doing this, it’s not affecting my bank account directly, and it’s a way for me to be generous with money I would not have had otherwise. I posted what I was doing on Facebook and within minutes, messages were flooding my inbox with requests for fundraisers!
My first few fundraisers were being worked right from my hospital bed. We used Facebook as our means to spread the word, and the sales were pouring in. Since I really didn’t have any set expectation for this business, I was shocked to learn that in February 2013, I was #2 in the entire company in sales! And in 11 months, I wrote more than $14,000 in checks to people. Amazing, right?
I planned on helping others, which I did. What I had not planned on was success. In 4 months time, I earned an all expense paid trip to Mexico, thousands of dollars worth of accessories and a drive to find others who love what I am doing and want to do the same. Although I did not set out to make money at this, I have built a team of 21 women, and I do keep the money I make from them. I have found a new passion that is all mine.
Putting money aside, I did not realize how accessories could have improved my healing. As my hair was growing back in, I would regularly get new accessories at my doorstep. It was fun to think about putting them on and what I was going to wear, despite feeling like I was beat with the ugly stick! After having your breasts removed and being bald, feeling like a woman was a thing of the past. Stella & Dot helped me find me again.
A little over a year into this business, I can honestly say I love it. My goal now is to grow, and I am learning about all the different social media channels to help me get there. The balance of making money and giving to people is more than I could have hoped for. This business empowered me, gave me new purpose, and I’ll admit, makes me look cute, too!