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.