First things first...
As I’m sitting on a black and white bench at a cute little coffee shop in Manhattan, sipping on my favorite coffee (caramel latte with almond milk of course) – I can’t help thinking how I got here – to this very moment. I travel for a living, run a company, and consistently have the ability to create and execute ideas. I am at a place to empower women, build a team and raise the bar.
I was definitely a person of humble beginnings – even now, I’m not even close to where I want to be but I will not stop working towards my goals.
Anyway, I figure you might need to know a little about where I came from to find out where I've been.
I grew up in Michigan as the oldest of 7 kids. My parents worked hard but we constantly struggled financially. I mean – who can blame them? I can’t even imagine taking care of one child let alone 7. My Dad is a dreamer and my Mom is the hardest worker I know. This birthed a crazy risk-taking boss babe who believes the sky is the limit and you don’t give up even if you fail.
My parents owned an Italian Restaurant growing up – Rosetti’s – named after my Grandma. I grew up in the kitchen helping my dad make new recipes, and as I got older – manned the cash register and helped with the business. I knew from the moment I got my hands on numbers I wanted to run a company. Talk about trying to market before Yelp - I don’t even know how anything existed before social media as it is now!
I didn’t have the easiest childhood. My family is very private but I feel like I have to be honest with my past to be transparent about my present. I know both of my parents worked hard to provide for us but Flint, Michigan isn’t the best place to really have a successful career (water issue is real life!).
We didn’t grow up having much – I remember sitting in our house sleeping in snow suits under sleeping bags. I remember moving so many times I forgot some of the houses we lived in. I remember having some Christmases with no presents. I honestly feel like I have erased a lot out of my mind but these are some of the things I remember.
I started playing piano when I was 3 and was classically trained. When my instructors tried to give me Beethoven, I was begging them to teach me chords of some of the rock songs and singer / songwriter ballads I was obsessing over. So naturally, because when I put my mind to something I do it - I started learning chords on my own. Day and night I was listening to songs from my favorite artists and used to grab the lyric booklets in the front of the cd case (yeah – cd’s – remember them!?) and start to analyze lyrics and write my own. Then – you couldn’t stop me. I had notebooks upon notebooks of songs written by yours truly. I started to even record an album with a major recording artist and lead a worship team at my church.
I was homeschooled almost my whole life and know this attributed to appreciating the value of hard work. I am grateful to my parents for that. I worked hard for everything I had and knew how to hustle. When I was 15, I was a lifeguard and a swim instructor at the YMCA. At 18, I ran a property appraisal company making a $40,000/ yr salary (which at only 18 years old was a huge paycheck) – which followed by being sexually harassed by my boss. He used to leave Playboy magazines on my desk and try and tell me he would buy me a car or even a house if I had sex with him. #metoo
I came to a point where I knew I had to make a change. Someone once said the people you surround yourself with define who you are and I definitely was not immersing myself in people positively affecting my life. Obviously, not from a work environment - but not in a personal way either.
I saved every penny as a waitress for two years and moved to Florida to go to Full Sail University in 2008. I moved with three of my friends and we drove to Orlando together in my little Hyundai Accent we called Manly Stanley. We lived in a two-bedroom apartment for a year together and it was the craziest year on my own. I was financially independent – got a serving job and lived on ramen noodles, TV dinners and mac and cheese.
Almost two days into moving to Orlando I met my future husband, Frankie (Lordy – that’s a story for another day). A few days later – met my soon to be bandmates and we started the rock band, One31.
And the rest is… well, history.
I have so many things to talk about – from marrying my first boyfriend to saving my virginity for my wedding night, to searching for my balance, to losing my brother – to being honest with even myself of who I am and where I come from. I am not embarrassed of it - it made me who I am.
Now I’m 30 (holy crap!). I am so excited to share with you my life, my story and life hacks I’ve used to keep me going even when I sometimes feel I have nothing left to give.
This is me. Let's do this.