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WHEN THE GOING GETS TOUGH

After my mom died in 2015, I felt heavy, sad and lost. Simultaneously, I felt a strong support team begin to envelop me and my family.

Everybody’s got something

As I began to integrate back into everyday life, I slowly began sharing small pieces of my loss and grief. Through these conversations, I learned in large, small, persistent, brief, ugly, cruel ways, life is hard for us all. Jobs suddenly end, diseases are deemed incurable and amidst all the struggle, “life must go on.”

AN OUTLET Emerges

A month after my mom died, a family member shared a Frederick Buechner quote with me: “Even in the dark we have the power to whistle.” This quote became a stronghold and a lens through which I viewed life. I reminded myself that amidst the dark, not all was lost. When friends and family asked how I was doing, I’d explain: I’m whistling.

Bringing an idea to life

I wanted a physical reminder to whistle so one afternoon I huddled down in my basement, tinkering with ideas and materials. After days of trial and error, I settled on renewing the life of old, spent bullet casings to transform them into whistle necklaces and keychains.


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Initially, I made 50 whistle necklaces for the women in my life that leaned in as we walked the grievous path together. As I began to share the necklaces, friends would reply that they knew someone else struggling and requested another to give away.

As the requests began to come in, I set up an Etsy shop to track the orders and, as they say, the rest is history.

I created products and packaging, social media and blog content, managed shipping, and delegated and collaborated with talented folks to bring the idea to life. Seven-hundred whistles necklaces and keychains later, I learned on-the-job as a new business owner. At the heart of the operation, support and acknowledgement were shared profusely with the exchange of just a whistle necklace or keychain.

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WHEN THE STORY IS A CHAPTER

The year and a half journey with Whistling & Company created unbelievable opportunities. I was honored to attend President Obama’s South by South Lawn, speak at colleges and universities, and become CEO of a small business. More importantly, a community that was safe, encouraging, and accepting emerged because of the honest women and men willing to share their story.

After a year and a half journey, I knew that for me to continue to evolve and heal, I needed to step away from the business. I closed up shop in pursuit of the next chapter which ultimately lead me to the VCU Brandcenter.


Metrics:

700 Products packaged and sold

43,000+ Blog views

$7,000 Donated to charity

Hundreds of connections made and stories shared