Saturday, June 16, 2007

Walking on red hot coals

I was in sunny Puerto Rico visiting my family last weekend but no matter where I am these days I always end up finding interesting startup stories.

While there I met with my new friend Sharon Pica for lunch and when I told her what I was up to with The Mogulettes, she shared how she had started a few businesses herself. After studying at F.I.T. and working for years as a buyer here in the states and in P.R., she decided to launch her own line of clothing. The scariest part, she said, was gathering the courage to disclose her plans to her boss, who owned a chain of stores in old San Juan. He was very supportive and allowed her to work part-time while she put together her line. Although she was great at spotting trends and knowing what designs would sell, her weak point was making patterns, so she was able to find a partner that had experience with that. Their first dress was a disaster - the pattern came out wrong and they had to throw away all the fabric. But then orders started coming in and dresses started selling. They found a very good rep and Sears and JC Penney's placed orders. Little by little the company grew. Her old boss became one of her biggest customers. After a couple of years they were making close to one million dollars in annual sales! Soon after that she and her partner parted ways and Sharon went off on her own - that's when the business really took off.

Sharon at home, getting ready for her next business adventure

It was also during that time that she felt drawn to the spiritual side of life, and after attending a few seminars she decided to start a non profit to bring all the wonderful teachers she loved to the island. Her fist event was with Wayne Dyer and 600 people showed up, then thousands came to see Deepak Chopra, Marianne Williamson and others.

But everything changed when her daughter Gabrielle was born. Sharon put both businesses aside to become a full time mom after realizing she couldn't breast feed and buy fabric and book spiritual events at the same time. That was 9 years ago and now she's ready to get back into action with one of the many new business ideas she's cooking up in her very creative head.

Sharon had a great story about how she overcame her fears when she launched her first business. A week before making the decision, a friend told her about a training that taught people how to walk on coals to work out their fears - Anthony Robbins-style. She agreed to go but once there, she was so terrified she went to the end of the line and was the last one to step into the red hot ashes. Well not only did she walk through the smoldering coals once but then went back and did it again, and again! After that she felt that if she could walk on fire she could do anything - it was a great 'rah-rah!' moment for her. And that's how she found the courage to start her business...

Do you have a 'rah-rah!' moment you'd like to share? I'd love to hear it!!

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