Three Hats in the Life of Atayne

Rebecca and Jeremy - One of our famous self potraits

Becca and Jeremy - One of our famous self portraits

Occasionally, I am able to sneak in a comment about my girlfriend.  I say sneak, because she is also my editor and most often edits those comments out.  Since I prefer to remain in her good graces, I typically accept those changes.  I am not sure why she does not want to be mentioned, you would have to ask her.  Since a lot of you are starting to meet her at events, I thought this was a good time to introduce her to the greater Atayne community, and what better way than to have her do a guest entry.  Readers of The Story of a Red Shirt, meet Becca (or Rebecca, but never Becky).

————–

Two weeks ago Jeremy sent me a link to an Inc. magazine article written by Meg Hirshberg, wife of Gary, a co-founder of yummy organic yogurt maker, Stonyfield Farms. It was titled “Hitched to Someone Else’s Dream.”  Jeremy invited me to write to Meg about the 3 hats that I wear in his and Atayne’s life – or just write a guest blog entry for him.

Then this past Tuesday (Oct 7), Jeremy sent me Stephen Wells’ blog entry describing his experience at the Maine Marathon. Superman Stephen ran for his “BQ” (that’s Boston Qualifier, an acronym I just learned) and helped Team Atayne sweep the course, where we picked up A LOT of recyclables and trash.

In Stephen’s blog, I had been outed for the first time, at least by name.  Prior to the mention by Stephen, I had edited myself out from Jeremy’s blog. Easy to do as I’ve been editor here since the inception, and Jeremy tends to accept all my changes. Why the reticence to step in front of the curtains, you may be asking.

  • A) I’m an introvert with little desire for public recognition.
  • B) I prefer to keep boundaries between my personal and professional life.

Speaking of boundaries (or their non-existence), what are these 3 hats that I wear in Atayne and Jeremy’s life? Perhaps it would be illustrative to share how Jeremy and I met.

On July 16, 2007, Net Impact held an event at Honest Tea’s headquarters in Bethesda. At the start of event, we went around the room and introduced ourselves. Jeremy, by far the tallest and brightest guy (wearing an orange polo) in the place, announced that he had just filed papers to create Atayne, LLC and would soon quit his full-time job. I was both jealous and intrigued. I was working as a CSR/sustainable business consultant and on the lookout for a concept that would meld my personal passions and professional skills — just as Jeremy was doing.

I approached Jeremy.  We chatted over samples of Honest Tea and then went our separate ways.  Jeremy tracked me down a few days later through the event organizer offering information to assist with a client…

Fast forward 15 months later and I now find myself wearing three hats, in no particular order: cash investor; consultant to Atayne/ unpaid part-time employee; and girlfriend.

It is a balancing act wearing these 3 hats. Neither of us ever really think about it. But I’d be lying if I did not admit there are challenges involved.

In strictly professional settings, we tend to keep the romantic relationship under wraps. (But J – really, you should have divulged a bit more when a certain person came by one of our expos and bought a  top….Mike agrees with me on this one.) On a daily basis, there is a definite blurring of roles.  For example, Jeremy has said to me, more than once: “Hey Becca, wanna go down to the storage room (basement) and count inventory?”  I often question his true intentions of these “inventory” sessions.

Meg Hirshberg chose to hitch herself to someone else’s dream.  I choose a parallel path.  I am supportive in all ways that I am able, while I continue to search for my own dream, the intersection of personal interests, professional assets, and market opportunity.

I am a generation younger than Meg Hirshberg, born under the Aries sign, with a consulting mindset and a MBA from a great school. I don’t ever see myself hitched, 100% exclusively, to someone else’s dream.  My portfolio theory-loving Finance professors would have my skin! Thus, I continue to trade ideas for socially responsible businesses with former work and b-school colleagues. If I were to launch my idea while Atayne is still young, I know that Jeremy would do what he could to help me – and add a hat or 2 to his own collection.

While living in Hong Kong prior to meeting Jeremy, I had a conversation with a friend, the Canadian Renaissance man Ran, that has remained with me: the importance of celebrating milestones, especially when building a socially-responsible enterprise.

So Jeremy, isn’t it time we opened the bottle of bubbly that has been sitting for months in the fridge of the basement dwelling in Bethesda and now the house/Atayne HQ in Arlington?  There’s a few milestones we have not yet properly celebrated: obtaining the seed financing, launching the website + online store, generating revenue during Month 1 of sales, you moving out of the basement, and us making it through the ups and downs (and many road trips between DC and NYC) of our first year together.

Here’s a salute to all of you who wear multiple hats in the lives of your loved ones! Now go pop open that bubbly and find a milestone or 3 to celebrate with him or her.

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12 responses to “Three Hats in the Life of Atayne

  1. Hmmm…. This explains a lot. 🙂 It’s a tricky path that I’ve been on both sides of. All I can say is if you’re going to have a major role, make sure it’s well defined one.

    Honest Tea Event Organizer

  2. YES!
    Yes!
    Yes…

    Marking the signposts is a great way to keep perspective and get fired up for more.

    Now down to count inventory with the both of you!

  3. Hey ya’ll – third wheel here! Great post…but I find it hard to believe Jeremy approached a woman – seriously…is that how it went down? Kidding aside, it’s been great getting to know you Rebecca and I’m sure I can speak for Jackson (my dog) in saying he loves sharing the couch with you while you punch away at your computer 🙂 As for the inventory sessions, I was wondering why Jeremy never asked me for help – thanks for clearing that up 😉

    Save a sip of bubbly for me!

  4. Well spoken Becca. Way to wear the three hats with style.

    And now that I know what goes on during inventory counts, can I get my shirt order drop shipped direct from the factory instead of from storage?

  5. Just to set the record straight: those inventory sessions have been G-rated. Jeremy took advantage of his publisher’s rights to add the innuendo….

    Or perhaps PG-rated? I did count inventory with a glass of vino in hand last week (and the occasional cursing, when I had to re-count). Two hours of inventory duty. Great date night, eh?

  6. How romantic, inventory date nights 🙂

    I love a good “how we met” story. Nicely done!

  7. Hi Becca. What a nice story and the picture of you and Jeremy is great! Glad to see you get well deserved recognition for all the hats you have worn in helping Jeremy make ATAYNE the successful company I know it will become. I have a lot of faith in both of you and Mike too. You make me proud. Love, Mammie

  8. Very interesting post… I’ll have to send you guys some pictures of me wearing my Atayne shirts while snowboarding. Yeah, it was a bit cold, so I ended up wearing it only briefly outside without my jacket. Check out the helmet pic and snowboarding pic on my website – http://www.machut.com.

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