Journey to Business Partnership - Part 2
Yesterday, I shared the beginning of the long story of how Becca and I became business partners. To catch up on how we met, be sure to read part 1!
After Becca left Texas, the next two years were single-handedly the hardest and most miserable work experience in my life. The hotel was under a major $30 million renovation and we remained open for business throughout the entire construction project. I was told that if I could maintain the satisfaction of our meeting and convention clients, I could go anywhere I wanted in the company. I knew this would not be easy. Imagine trying to have a meeting while hammer drilling is happening one level below in an atrium hotel. That was my life...trying to keep people happy under miserable circumstances. I spent a lot of time coordinating with the construction crew, negotiating times when major (noisy) work could happen, and I gave away a lot of free food and beverage to keep people happy. I ended up increasing meeting planner satisfaction by 10% during the renovation and to be honest, I was totally shocked but thrilled. I was completely burned out from working endless hours and getting yelled by disgruntled guests at all the time, but I had the golden ticket to go anywhere I wanted in the company, so it was all worth it (bonjour, Paris!). I was making my list of top picks for places to go, when I got a call to come down to the GM’s office. My F&B Director and GM sat me down and told me that the restaurant manager’s father was very ill and she was moving back home, thus leaving the team without a restaurant manager. All the hammer-drilling noise I had suffered through was for a brand new, corporate-branded restaurant, bar, franchised coffee shop and lobby space. The hotel was about to be left without a Director of F&B Outlets just weeks before all the new spaces were to open and all eyes were on me. My heart sank as they asked me to stay and take the job. I actually said no…. twice. But after enough money and enough promises, I finally agreed to do it. Remember when I said I hate working in restaurants? Well, I HATE working in restaurants! I started the new job already burned out and probably never stood a chance.
Well, every story has a silver lining and Jack is the amazing, sparkly detail in my story. Jack worked for the construction company and he was responsible for orchestrating all construction that was happening in the hotel. He and I both had to look out for the best interests of our own jobs- me for the hotel client and he for the construction timeline. We butted heads a bit and he annoyed me in the beginning but by the end, we were great friends and I was smitten. After phase one of the construction was complete, Jack came to me and said, “So I guess this is it, you can be done with me and move somewhere amazing.” To which I retorted, “Well actually, I just accepted the Director of Outlets positions here so you will now be working directly above me. Looks like you have another year of my phone calls.” Jack was (and still is) my saving grace. Through that last year of horrible work, he was my cheerleader and my friend and kept me going when all I wanted to do was walk away. Jack reminded me that my identity wasn’t tied to the company that employed me and I could do anything I wanted if I put my mind to it.
As the hotel renovation finished, Jack found out his next project would be in Puerto Rico. And in a big, scary leap of uncertainty, I quit my corporate job and the financial security associated with it to move to the Caribbean island with my cheerleader and best friend. While on the island, I did some independent consulting and helped a new restaurateur open a space, but I also took some time to get my head straight and my priorities right. I took cues from the locals (who you couldn’t pay enough to work on the weekends!) and learned that beach and family time was just more important than money. I learned how to make time for a walk or to read a book and finally learned how to tell my Type A personality who was boss. Puerto Rico was my wonderful “Eat, Pray, Love” story.
After taking time to reconnect with my priorities, I was starting to get antsy (and lonely). Jack had begun working in Nigeria, which meant I was alone in Puerto Rico for 3 weeks at a time. It was tough and I running into difficulties because we no longer had an address in the US (even through Puerto Rico is a territory). The final straw was when I was trying to complete Global Entry paperwork for both Jack and me so we could zip through customs in the airport but couldn’t finish the paperwork without an address. When he came home that last time, we talked and I told him I wanted to try to get back to the states. We agree that we both loved the Eastern part of the state and decided I would spend a few weeks in the area looking for places to live. I reached out to my friend Becca and let her know of my plans to come to NC and asked if she could meet up. Becca said she would love to see me but was really busy with a huge wedding on the weekend I was planning to arrive. I immediately lit up and told her I was just doing some freelance work and would be happy to help in exchange for a tour guide the week after the wedding. We both agreed it was a deal!
I flew into the Greensboro airport and Becca’s husband picked me up and took me straight to Audamont Farm, the venue for the wedding that weekend. Becca was on a ladder working on a major installation project when I arrived. We hugged, I grabbed a copy of the diagram and we both got to work in different areas of the space. The following three days were a total whirlwind of events, set-up, hard work and lots (and lots) of joy. It was literally just like riding a bike. Becca and I naturally fell in tandem and worked together like we had never left each other. The culmination of the weekend was the post-wedding Sunday brunch, hosted at the newlyweds' home. Our original plan was to get up (after less than 4 hours of sleep), set up at the house, make sure everything was ready with the caterer, then head to grab some breakfast ourselves and come back to break down after the event. Ha!!! The previous two days of celebration proved to be such a wonderful experience that the guests couldn’t imagine missing the final farewell. The couple thought the brunch would be just close family and friends but ended up being almost 75% of the total guest list. Becca and I worked side-by-side with the caterer and hustled to refill mimosas, replenish pans of scrambled eggs and keep dishes cleared from furniture for the next 3 hours. By the end, we.were.exhausted!!! We finally made it to the Village Tavern for brunch in the late afternoon but were so tired I couldn’t even keep hold of my fork (I dropped it twice on the floor). We were delusional but so, so fulfilled and happy. That feeling of contentment can only be explained to those who know what it’s like to love what you do.
After brunch, we retired to the sofa for a Downton Abbey marathon complete with Shiner Bock beer and late night Burke Street Pizza. Between episodes, we laughed and recapped ridiculous behind-the-scenes moments from the weekend. At one point Becca asked me, “Would you ever consider moving here to do this with me.” I could barely contain my excitement as I told her I was thinking the same thing all weekend. We agreed that we wanted to make sure we weren’t just losing it from lack of sleep and greasy food overload and promised to think and talk lots more about it. And think and talk is exactly what we did. Becca and I spent the next months very carefully discussing what it would mean to be business partners, what the terms of our partnership would be and our exit strategy if it didn’t work. I flew back to North Carolina two more times for us to talk in person and for us to meet with an attorney.
To say, Becca and I took the prospect of becoming business partners very seriously is the understatement of the century. We both made personal concessions for the best interest of the business and had some tough conversations before we ever agreed to move forward. Becca respected and understood that I could only be fully invested if we had an even 50/50 stake in the business. And I was incredibly lucky to be in a position (thanks to my career at Hyatt) to be able to make an investment in the business as an owner. We both took HUGE risks in each other. I didn’t take lightly the investment of time, finances, and emotional capital that Becca put into starting the business. I knew how hard it would be for her to share something she started. Sometimes friends and family sometimes ask me why the name didn’t change when I joined. The answer is, the company already had a fantastic reputation as Rebecca Rose Events. Becca worked really hard in those beginning years and she deserves to have her name on the building. Anyone who has taken more than 30 seconds to get to know about our company knows about our entire team. So even though it stings a bit when our company gets mail or emails addressed only to Becca, I quickly get over it because I know those people don’t really care and/or didn't take a single second to actually research our company (and probably addressed the inside to "Ms. Rose" anyways...something that happens all the time and gives us lots of giggles since Rose is her middle name).
This year, Rebecca Rose Events turns 6 years old. Becca and I have been business partners for almost three of those years. Both of those statements seem hard to believe. It is so wonderful to look back and remember what started as dreams and sketches in a notebook that now have become realities. We haven’t stopped dreaming…. not even for a moment. Together, Becca and I have sketched out some big plans for our future. I can’t wait to see what the next three years hold with my friend and partner by my side!
Check back tomorrow to read Becca's side of the story! Cheers to many more years to come!