It feels like yesterday that my husband Thom and I were standing in front of the Coliseum at the 1984 LA Olympics in our tiny booth, selling graphic t-shirts we printed the night before. Having left Kansas two years prior, we we’re feeling courageous and about to take a big risk. But hey, when you don’t have anything, there’s nothing to risk. And here we are 30 years later, celebrating this incredible milestone.
For two full weeks we were going, going, going—selling as many shirts as we could print. When it was over and we realized how much we sold and how much people loved our stuff, we literally jumped up and down on the bed. We knew we had something special. So, we quit our jobs and said, “Let’s go!”
After that, it was all about the momentum, keeping focused and keeping forward. We worked. And we worked. Every dime we earned went right back into the company. I remember thinking, “Jeeze, are we ever going to go out to dinner again and not have to think about it?”
Our spontaneous plan for a clothing company came together and worked. To me, one of the coolest parts about starting Fresh Produce was that our customer was literally telling us what she wanted. Women wanted easy, put-together looks that were comfortable. They’re the ones who knew we had something good, so we trusted them and went for it. It was all on instinct.
Sometimes people ask me what my favorite part is about running FP and it’s honestly, the people. From my teammates at the home office in Boulder, our 26 stores and all our customers—it’s those relationships I cherish the most. I love seeing the potential in people. Watching them grow is a beautiful thing. If I can be a part of that, it’s great.
That’s why one of the hardest times ever was during the recession in 2008 and a few years after. We had to let go so many talented people who I called my friends. It was devastating. With a business, people come in and out of your life—it comes with the job. I just want those people to know that I care. It took me a long time to realize there’s a time and place for all of us. I had to trust change and that we’d all be ok. If you lead with right intention, you walk tall.
Right now, in 2014, I couldn’t be more excited about Fresh Produce the brand. The intention and momentum of our company in the past year has been incredible. The last few years we were reimagining the future; now it’s about driving forward.
For my birthday last week, my son, Scout, gave me a card. In it he wrote, “Mom, I can’t wait to see what’s next for you.” When someone you love is so excited to see what you have planned, it’s pretty empowering. When you get that kind of support from someone it makes you feel bright. It’s that support and encouragement that makes me want to shine. And that’s what I’m trying to do for Fresh Produce. I hope to give Fresh Produce all the tools to stay bright and to shine on for the next 30 years. I hope our sparkle and our light reflects on you. My instincts tell me you’re going to shine bright. And you have to trust your instincts, right?
Here’s to 30 more years of color!