It is hard to uncover what has happened in anyone's past, but when we do get through it, we become a Lotus.
In my junior year of college, I was presented with an opportunity to study abroad in Paris. Having never been to Europe and completely in and over my head with excitement, I grabbed this once in a lifetime chance. Most travelers will say they love to travel to experience more of life and get to know more of the world around them. I discovered that when I travel, I got to know more of myself. One particular moment in Europe helped me discover my own strength and shaped me into the person I am today.
During some downtime from school in Paris, I decided to meet up with a friend who was visiting London. I took a really late train to London, and when I got there, the paper that had her address and phone number was no longer in my bag. I had no other way of contacting her. I was in London for the first time and I was completely alone. Stressed and frantic, all I could tell myself was, “You can get past this. Think of ways to get through it.” I tried checking into a hotel, then soon discovered my credit card was maxed out. Who knew currency conversion was so high?! Stranded in London, I had no place to sleep, no money, and no one to go to. I didn’t have anything on me, except my journal, my camera, and the few essentials in my backpack.
When you are faced with the world on your own, you are forced to pick yourself up (cry and curse of course) and do something about it. I could have cried my eyes out, but in order to still enjoy myself in this beautiful country (and survive), I had to think of ways to get through it. I walked around London to preoccupy myself, and finally resorted to writing out my frustrations in my journal. Knowing I had no place to sleep that night, I got creative. There was a nice hotel in the distance, so I walked in and told the the concierge I was a guest. I asked for maps to the city and places I could see the sunrise. I took those maps, went far back into the lobby and stayed there all night. It was an uneasy situation, but I remember doing everything I could personally do, to survive till the next morning. When I watched the sunrise that next morning, I was proud of what I had become...stronger. In London that morning after, I found inner peace. There is a powerful light within each of us, and I allowed mine to guide me past all my troubles, challenges, and worries.
The launch date for Lotus Premium Denim was set for November 19, 2011. This idea was a leap of faith and a risk we truly believed in. It was one of the most compelling challenges life handed to me. For five average working women who had no formal education in fashion, but had the great potential to run a business, the notion of “no turning back” was our mantra, and it continues to be our mantra today. Having a background in Event Management, I wanted to make sure our launch exhibited a vision of quality clothing for quality women. Women were excited to try on our denim, and our friends and family were intrigued to learn about this idea that took hold of all of our free time. It's been more than satisfying to know that many of our guests have remarked how enjoyable their experience was that night.
The startup life has been an amazing race for us. After the launch, we were involved in several major opportunities including a televised piece on Adobo Nation Talk Show (part of a global network), The Denim Summit in LA, GBK’s 2012 MTV Movie Awards Gift Lounge in Beverly Hills, Art with Style Benefit featuring Sandy Sanjurjo (an amazing local artist and fellow Lotus woman), City Year’s Opening Day 2012 Ceremony in San Jose, local bay area Fashion Shows, the Lotus Water For Life fundraiser benefiting charitywater.org, coverage from fashion and lifestyle bloggers, and of course meeting our amazing clients at our trunk shows (our absolute favorite). Every time we pushed forward and shared our vision, we received a compelling response to keep moving forward. Being in this great team has taught me that as much as you would like to do everything on your own, you can't. Finding the right business partners is very much like finding your significant other. You need them to be compatible, passionate, loving, trustworthy, and someone who compliments your strengths. When you find people who compliment you well, amazing things happen. Success arises. Simply put, its surrounding yourself with people who bring out the best in you. Great leaders help other people succeed.
I believe life changing opportunities come once in a lifetime and when they do, you have to grab it courageously, and not let your fears stop you. When you make mistakes, the greatest thing you can do is to learn from them. Even when you want to give up and pull your hair out, what you take from it and how you decide to move forward from it, will make you a better and wiser person.
The blessings in life are never handed to us on a silver platter. Blessings are a direct result of hard work, sacrifice, faith, and commitment. It comes from being pushed in the face of uncertainty, and seeing yourself through it. We are fortunate to be amongst a generation where people can truly achieve their dreams, if they work hard enough and keep building on their vision. Women especially, now have the ability to do anything we put our hearts into. And for the 5 of us, that's how its always been from the beginning. We are working hard towards a better life for us and our loved ones. We realize our parents sacrificed and worked hard for us to have better lives and we won't take this blessing for granted. It’s true that we are our own worst critics. But we are also our own solution. Life will repeatedly test us, time and time again. We will get tested by life, relationships, money, health, and the list goes on. But with faith in yourself, anything is still possible. When you get in a difficult situation where every fiber of your being is tested, do not run from it. It's a human feeling, but don’t let it paralyze you. Figure out what you can do to heal, learn and move forward.
Not knowing this at the time, but a flashback from high school recently surfaced, which related to my innate love for denim. In high school, we wore uniforms and every few Fridays, we would get “free dress day”, a day to wear anything we wanted. My girlfriends and I would always talk about what outfits we were going to wear that following Friday. When it was my turn to answer, I remember one of my friends jokingly asked, “Are you going to wear jeans again, Elaine?” I turned to her and said, “Yes, as of matter fact, I am.” Who would have thought, 13 years later, that I am a founding team member of a fearless and fierce, all women run denim line called Lotus Premium Denim.