After losing both my parents when I was 23, life spiralled a little out of control (no surprises there). Too much drinking to numb the pain, pretending everything was ok. Oh, and the dumb things I did! Like saying 'yes' to a guy I'd dated for 3 months when he proposed! Needless to say, that didn't last very long.
Two years after mum and dad passed away I got the opportunity to transfer to Los Angeles while working for Tourism NZ. It was the best decision! Working in Santa Monica and living less than 10 mins away in Brentwood was an amazing experience! I absolutely loved the laid back lifestyle of Southern California. (If you've only spent a week visiting the theme parks, there is so much more to LA). The endless sunshine is awesome for a start. I love people watching, the shopping, chilling out in cafes, the beaches, and yes the theme parks too!
After 18 months in LA I wanted more out of work (I enjoyed my job, but without a degree I couldn't progress). So I moved back to NZ signing up to the University of Auckland to study full-time (BCom double major in marketing and international business). Part-time work was a necessity to pay for my living costs while at uni. 5am starts on weekends at the airport and eventually weekend nurse-aiding in a retirement village.
Graduation was happy with a tinge of sadness. My beautiful friend Celine and her mum Marie were there to see me receive my degree :) and my future in-laws took us out for a celebration dinner. At college I was probably one of the least likely to be expected to attend university. I'm pretty sure mum and dad would have been proud.
After graduating I started my first marketing job as a Product Manager. Two years later I was pregnant with my gorgeous daughter. When she was just 3 months old I returned to full-time work. Unfortunately I didn't have a support network to help me. Nor a supportive boss (apparently working 40 hours a week, after previously working 50+ hours was considered "part-time")! Sitting in a cupboard at work to express milk for my baby's following day at creche wasn't ideal.
I take my hat off to the many mums (and dads) who work full-time without a support network, and manage to make it work! Having someone to occasionally do the before or after creche pick-up would've been amazing so as not to have to rush all the time.
After my daughter, came one beautiful boy followed by another beautiful boy. Three kids under 5. During this time we built a house (project managing a new build with little ones is definitely an experience)! My new neighbour became one of my best friends, Leah.
And Leah is how I got into the gift hamper business ...
In part 3, becoming a business owner and that friggen awful C word, cancer.