Last week, I drove solo over 2,500 miles across country from Charlottesville, Virginia to Los Angeles, CA. Some called me crazy. Some worried that it would be too much internal reflection. Other’s were jealous.
Me? I was relieved to be in a car alone. Running a company doesn’t allow for quiet.
Why did I do it? Because I’m a dream chaser.
Well, more importantly, because Lumi made its LA debut in Gelson’s supermarkets across Southern California on Wednesday, October 28th. A juice from Charlottesville isn’t going to sell itself in Hollywood.
I drove to SoCal with coolers of Lumi in my SUV to spread the “Love yoU, Mean It” mission, hire a sales person in Cali, and show the juice capital of the world who we are and why Lumi is the best product on the market. (I’ll let you know how it goes.)
I didn’t have much time for reflection on my four-day drive. I filled my days with calls and when I wasn’t on a call, I was so pumped to just jam out or listen to Wharton Radio.
But, it was when the dawn rose over the Sierra Nevada’s on my fourth day of driving, that in the midst of exhaustion and only 6 hours from LA, I became overwhelmed with a flood of memories.
It hit me – This exact week in history represents a series of milestones for Lumi and for me personally.
I’m not chasing my dreams - I am living my dreams.
Let me back up, three years ago this month, Lumi wasn’t even a thought in my mind. I was in my second year of business school, and I was 26 years old. I was interviewing at Anheuser-Busch in St. Louis, MO, Alcoa in New York, and various consulting firms without any intention of starting my own company anytime soon. Lumi was a phrase that I had used for years, but never an idea for a product.
It took one difficult interview question and one difficult dinner with a man I dated for 2 years to change my entire life’s course. An interview, break-up, trips to Hong Kong and Australia served as catalyst for me to find myself.
And, I did.
How could that have only been 3 years ago? It seems like I have lived a lifetime since then, and I have found three grey hairs - which may suggest I have lived a lifetime since then.
My point is – it dawned on me somewhere in the Arizona desert that I was living my dreams – dreams completely different than the one’s I envisioned and mapped out only three years prior to that moment Saturday morning in the desert.
Two years ago this week, I made my first Lumi deliveries. I don’t remember feeling any emotion. I was so exhausted building out an integrated juice and high pressure processing facility as well as a brand in under 6 months– that I didn’t even realize what had been accomplished.
I remember friends coming to celebrate our FDA approval on the 25th of October. We had Lumi Libations. I didn’t really socialize or drink with them. Instead, I kept answering emails and working on client lists. I couldn’t celebrate.
Entrepreneurship is not always glamourous.
The first 13 months of Lumi I didn’t sleep more than 4 hours a night. I didn’t take a day off, let alone an afternoon. I was a zombie. The mechanics of life occurred, but I never felt emotion.
Yet, I was chasing a dream that I dreamt 2 ½ years ago in a Whole Foods shopping aisle – a dream to revolutionize the way people were consuming package food so that they could live healthier lives.
Here we are – 2 years of selling this week.
We have come a long way since the first day we sold juice. We got amazing accounts like Whole Foods, The Fresh Market, Washington Wizards, and independent rock stars like Glen’s Garden Market in DC. We have lost amazing accounts because of our inability to cover everything with our small staff and to educate consumers quickly enough as to why we are the best juice on the market.
I mean we aren’t V8 or Naked – we are all of your fruits and veggies in one bottle with a “Love yoU, Mean It” commitment to offer you nothing but real produce – the way nature intended. No additives, no water, never frozen, never from concentrate.
We have come so far since our first day of sales 2 years ago – that we are now in LA? Did I dream this?
There are days that I have wanted to quite. There are days that I have cried. There are days that I have laughed until it hurt. There are times when I had to make decisions on quality control that cost me tens of thousands of dollars. There have been times that I have been scared – and have felt alone.
But, I kept operating with the notion that failure wasn’t an option – and no matter what, we will make it work.
There is so much I want to share with all of you. Lessons in leadership, friendship, resilience, hard work, accountability, independence, cherishing moments, love, happiness, fear, relief, and most importantly faith in God.
I will someday. The book will be called, The Juicy Details #CrushIt – Lean In ain’t got nothing on LUMI.
But, let’s get back to living dreams.
What can I teach you after 2 years of survival in the market and 30 months into the start of my first company – Nothing. I’m not a teacher.
But, perhaps, I can inspire you to chase your dreams and live them.
Entrepreneurship is a series of visions. Opportunities are limitless and only your fear of the unknown paralyzes you.
Listen to your inner voice. Your surroundings either inhibit or enable you to achieve happiness.
Most importantly, keep taking chances and having fun. Proceed as if success is inevitable and be fearless of the unknown.
The past two years of selling Lumi has inspired me. From my employees to my suppliers to my customers to my friends and family, each of you have played an integral part in Lumi’s survival, my survival as an entrepreneur and our future.
I hope this time next year that I have more exciting news to share with you. Now, off to living the dream in California and getting everyone hooked on the Love yoU, Mean It lifestyle!
Thank you for your support, love and encouragement.
Love yoU, Mean It from our kitchen to yours!