2016 | The Year 500 Women Gave Me Posture and Flexibility

toni desroisers abeego founder inventor beeswax wrap

Navigating 2016 could have been the hardest year of my entrepreneurial life. The New Year began with the bitter sting of 2015 lingering in my heart. I’m an entrepreneur who, when I set my goals, I expect to reach them. In 2015 I reached for the stars and fell flat on my face. Looking back today I’m not even sure how I would have dusted myself off if I didn’t have a loving team and the hope of SheEO on the horizon.

At the end of a messy, terrible and oh so crappy year of business I was selected as 1 in 5 women led businesses that would have the opportunity to be nurtured and funded by 500 Radically Generous women. These women included the founding Activators of SheEO and head goddess and SheEO founder, Vicki Saunders. I knew the opportunity was going to change the course of my business but what I didn’t know is that by the very next December I was going to be standing tall and would believe in myself as a CEO and not a fraud waiting to get busted.

So how did I reach this mind and spirit altering pinnacle?

Shit got real, and I faced it head on.

Major growth always begins with a crisis. At least for me it does. The picture on January 1st, 2016 was a world apart from the picture I thought I’d see when I applied to be a SheEO Venture. I knew that if I didn’t take immediate action and triage my business I couldn’t in good conscience face these women and accept the honor that had been given to me. I had to make gut wrenching, heart breaking and confidence crushing decisions. I literally had to pick myself up off my face or risk losing one of the best opportunities of my entrepreneurial life. Taking this action made me feel like I’d rather disappear than go through with it. But I ignored the urge and it was the first step to building Posture.

Striped naked and I was welcomed by my Sisters exactly as I stood.

By February the bleeding had stopped. I was deflated but standing and now it was time to walk. It was time for the SheEO weekend retreat, where I’d have to negotiate my share of $500,000. But if you think this perfectly curated weekend was just about splitting up cash you’d be dead wrong. I was invited into a cottage with 5 other female founders. With the love and support of two coaches I was asked to bare everything and then encouraged to find my self worth. Then I was asked to advocate for myself and so I could pick the rest of the pieces up. This is when I developed the first piece to flexibility. I had to adapt.

Life gave me lemons so I built a brand around them.

So I had been broken but was now on the mend. The SheEO gala was upon us and feeling stronger than ever I was tasked with introducing my business to the Activators. Not the business that was rolling downhill while I ran after it, but the business I knew will one day be a household name. A bundle of nerves, I paced and recited my pitch. At the venues bar, I noticed the bartender laboriously slicing dozens of lemon. An instant moment of clarity struck me like a like nothing I’ve felt before except the idea for Abeego itself. I asked the bartender to please peel a spiral out of one lemon. I needed it for my pitch.

This lemon peel moment, allowed me to take a deep breath and rest my shoulder blades flat against my back. When my name was called, I walked on stage and pitched 250 women, “Who believes this lemon peel is breathable?” Almost every hand in the room went up. “Now ask yourself, why do we take that lemon out of it’s protective AND breathable peel and wrap it in airtight cling film?” Boom. A brand was born, or rather, reborn.

My 8 year old business gets a breath of fresh air and I almost feel like a start up again.

From April until September I busted my ass building the new Abeego brand. I drove my team crazy but the new brand finally felt like it was heading where it was meant to, towards the vision I had for it from the beginning.

Skyrocketing, exceeding my goals and landing firmly on my feet.

That day, on stage, our entire year shifted from struggle to triumph at least psychologically. It wasn’t easy. The number and size of challenges I had to face were more than I ever imagined but I was able to move through them with fluidity and grace like never before. Abeego has had major growth year, one that deserves celebration and I found myself in a new spot. I felt like a CEO. No longer like a fraud. I’ve got this. Through, sickness and health, good times and bad. The brand’s vision was mine and my vision was the brand. This epiphany was even better than any financial success.

I'm looking forward and reaching beyond my comfort zone.

Fast forward to present day, as my December comes to a close and I reflect back on the year, I’m embracing 2017 with my two new found attributes or pillars. These pillars are my legs so to speak and I found them because 500 Radically Generous women believed in me, held me in their hearts and walked alongside me while I found myself and my stride.

Posture. Not the Posture your mom tells you to have as a teen. It’s is not just about standing tall, although that comes with it. No, the posture I speak of, is confidence that’s visible to all and convincing enough that even my most horrible inner critic believes it.

Flexibility. It’s a mental display of resilience. This year I’ve made bold decisions in the face big challenges, pivoted around both minor and major setbacks and surpassed my goals in a relaunch year.

Dear SheEO Activators, team, coaches, fellow ventures and Vicki. This year your holiday gift to me was Posture and Flexibility.

Thank you. I love you all.

Toni Desrosiers

Founder | Abeego

2015 founding SheEO Activators

sheeo 2015 an act of radical generosity

vicki saunders founder of SheEO

Photos | Dahlia Katz

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