In December 1986 a newly married couple took a gamble and purchased a struggling small business. They were my parents. The story of our little beauty supply business is that of survival through the worst of times, and passion and growth through the best of them.
That first year, having little funds of their own, my father went to his father and asked for a loan. Now my grandfather was a frugal man and a bit of a cynic, but he loaned my parents enough money for their business endeavor, at rates higher than the highest bank rates at the times. They wiped out their savings to put money down and soon the business was their own. It was a dream come true to this beauty store manager and ceramics factory worker/part-time fishing guide.
A year after purchasing the business, and still within the building phase, my mother and father worked tirelessly together as a team to service their newly purchased territory. My mother had also become pregnant and juggled running a storefront by herself with the pains of pregnancy while my father made sales calls over the road to area salons.
In November 1988, on a late Friday evening, my mother gave birth to me. With the business being so new, and without the ability to afford employees or help, my mother would return to work that following Monday with a newborn baby. My mother was one hell of a woman and knew what it was like to have to put the time in to survive.
Together, my parents grew their company and expanded their territory. They paid my grandfather back in full on his loan and hired their first employees a few years later. During all of this, I know they felt fear of failure but endured with a passion to survive and make it work, no matter what.
My childhood was spent falling asleep on office benches during late night purchase orders or holding my father’s briefcase as he taught me the ropes of doing sales calls in local beauty salons. We were a happy family, but we were also a normal family with its own flaws and personal struggles.
My father was a great and kind man. My father also struggled with bipolar depression and severe alcoholism. And at times, it was an all-too-powerful monster that put our small business and family into survival mode several times through the years. It would upend our lives, darken my childhood, and cause overwhelming grief and anxiety for my mother and myself. Ultimately, that dark and ominous monster consumed him, and he passed away in November of 2003 just a few days after my 15th birthday.
For months after my mother struggled to endure. She would go to work, drained of emotion, and put her all in only to fall asleep immediately upon arrival back home as she was consumed by her own internal battles over the loss of the love of her life. I remember watching her in her anguish, and at 15 I urged my mother to get up. Keep going. Do anything but this. I had no choice but to grow up and face the dark under-belly of the world.
My mother survived and so did her store and she continued on to several more successful years in business until, in 2010, she was diagnosed with leukemia. As the heartbeat of her store, and the sole owner, her diagnosis and long-term hospital stays put our family business and survival in jeopardy once more. She worked tirelessly on her laptop from her hospital bed despite her illness, despite the bad days, because she wanted to see her life’s work survive.
In September 2011 my mother passed away from her battle with leukemia. I was 22 years old. I finished up my college degree and came home to the family business, without a clue of how to run it or how I was going to survive in a world alone and without my parents. One look at the business financials told me I had better figure it out, and quickly, or a life’s work and my family’s dream would end.
Somehow, someway the business has endured the dark moments of life and for 9 years I have enjoyed (and sometimes a sort of love-hate kind of enjoy) being the owner of our small family business. Through these chapters of my life – through grief, depression, survival – through my father’s alcoholism and late nights holding my mother’s hand as she battled leukemia, one thing I know for certain is that to survive you must work and adapt and learn. You have no choice. Failure is guaranteed only when you quit.
Every great story, and every incredible life, has these dark chapters. It’s how we grow, it’s what teaches us compassion and love, it’s what strengthens our souls and gives us our wisdom in our old age along with plenty of grey hair.
Today I live a happy and quiet life with my husband and our dogs. The family business still thrives and takes up a large part of my time and my passion. However, there’s still that artistic and prose-oriented part of my soul – and that’s where Really Lana came to be. You’ll learn more about Lana, the mange-covered and abused boxer mix we adopted 8 years ago (and our other dogs who are as equally important!), while hopefully enjoying some art and writing along the way.