My first time at A Night For Green Beauty was in Chicago, in 2015. I was literally scared sick.
My brand was just 3 years old or so, and we had just gone "direct-to-consumer" (we were the first brand I knew to go that route so I felt like SUCH an oddball... but hey, when don't I?) I felt a little in over my head attending an EVENT. With PEOPLE. But for ANFGB, I knew I just had to go. I would regret not doing it! To be surrounded by the brands I admire and look up to, I'd push aside my often debilitating anxiety and push through the discomfort, as I have learned to do so often.
I was able to make myself physically sick with the anxiety I felt at being at this HUGE event. My massive head cold ensured that during the flight to the windy city, my head threatened to explode and pretty much mess up the fuselage/entire event. Then our AirBnB was a complete disaster (with terrifying firebrats, scary neighborhood, bathroom mold and all!) and I felt terrible about it. Then all my products got stuck at the border and it looked as though I would be showing up to the party...empty handed. I was devastated, disappointed, embarrassed and at a level 9.9 on the ol' anxiety meter. But there I was with my husband (my rock), son and best friend. And if there were ever a team to make me feel stronger, they were it! I didn't make it to the cocktail soiree that night, but I got my rest for the next day. I'm pretty sure wine was involved.
The morning of the event, my products were cleared by customs and I was able to bring them to the venue. It felt like a miracle, as even my trusted customs broker had told me just the night before that the prospects were looking grim and he couldn't believe this was happening. But there I was, the long-awaited day with my beat-up but intact box of products and my little crew. My table was right next to May Lindstrom and in front of Josh Rosebrook which didn't help my nerves, and my table was shoved behind a big pillar, but I was actually glad to be a little hidden. My son was about 2 at the time, I was still breastfeeding so I took him along, so my husband wheeled him around in the stroller so he'd fall asleep. (The little guy ended up staying up with us until way past midnight and went out for some 1 am pizza with us! Such a travel champ, that kid.) The music was loud, the venue as packed and hot, the lights were very purple...and yet, I somehow survived. In fact, I loved every moment of it.
I still look back and am so happy I went through with doing something outside of my comfort zone. Honestly, my anxiety was so bad I almost gave up. More than once. That day, I met so many amazing brand owners, customers and bloggers/YouTubers. I hugged May and we traded tables to sniff one another's products, told Josh how much I admire him, met Tara from Meow Meow Tweet and formed an instant kinship, chatted with the then-pregnant Jana from Captain Blankenship, had a mutual swoon with Laurel from Laurel Whole Plant, and introduced myself to countless other founders (we even invited Katherine L'Heureux from Kahina for a pizza, but sadly she declined.) Many of these founders continue to be my friends to this day.
But best of all, I met sweet, cool-girl Julie from Province Apothecary, was luckily stationed next to the wry witted Stacey from LOVEFRESH (who was my comedic relief all day long) and the charismatic, driven Graydon from Graydon Skincare. As the Canadians at the event, we naturally formed a quick bond and even went for a boat ride through the city the next day! Since that day, any time we meet we are over-joyed to be around one another like old college roommates. I can't imagine another industry where brand founders, in reality competitors vying for the exact same customers, could be such cheerleaders for one another. We speak the same language, work with our hands, understand plants and ingredients, we are passionate about helping people and we are business people on the search for our own definition of success, in a new type of economy. We are all so similar, and yet so different that every brand founder I have met inspires me in an unexpected way. There's zero pettiness, zero jealousy. All support, good advice and love.
Green Beauty is special. This isn't just a trend, or a market, or an industry. It isn't even just about an eco-friendly, healthy lifestyle or something to hashtag. It's about community, love, understanding and encouragement. We are all on a journey together, and through Green Beauty, learn about ourselves and the see the world from a different lens. It's about trial and error, experimentation, trust, commitment, pleasure, growth and possibility, and more. Beauty products are so much more than things to get your cleaned up and well moisturized, they represent self-care and to be the people making those products? I can't tell you what an honour it is. Your support over all these years has meant the world to me. It has given meaning to my life in a way I didn't expect, and would never trade for anything.
August 2nd I will be hanging out with Julie, Graydon, Stacey and Sara (from Sahajan... a founder I haven't met before!) where we will be having a founder's panel, discussing green beauty and... stuff. I mean, it's a live event so who knows!?
I hope to "see" you there for this live event!