All I can say is WOW, WOW, WOW! I am still speechless about this incredible opportunity. We WON a contest with Ally Bank for ‘Daring to Disrupt’ the stationery industry.

As the founder, marketer, publicist, accountant, hiring manager, operations manager, inventory manager, creative strategist, copywriter, graphic designer, wholesale manager, and then some for Hustle & Hope, you can imagine how making “progress” can feel to me (snail’s pace). I had applied to a couple of grants and contests, and never heard back. The rejection felt so personal. I realize it felt so personal, because as an entrepreneur there’s no playbook. When you start to execute against some crazy idea that’s never been done before, you invest your time (and money), plus your passion and discipline, you 100% want some sort of nod that you’re on the right path. So, when I didn’t hear back, I am not going to lie I was like, what do I need to learn? How can I do better next time?

Fast-forward to May 2021, when my good friend tagged us in a post for the Ally Bank Daring to Disrupt pitch contest… literally the day before submissions closed (eek). I thought maybe I shouldn’t do it. I wondered will anybody even watch this? Will they even care about my passion and excitement?

Then I had to remind myself about one of my fave greeting cards in our line…VALIDATION IS FOR PARKING. It was time to validate my damn self! Something told me to get up and do it, and do it full on, no matter what. At least I’d know I tried and gave it my all. As I waited on pins and needles, I heard back, and was named a potential finalist.

See, to me, being a finalist WAS the accomplishment. It meant I was on to something, even if it meant I needed to tweak some things and try again…

Then, I get the call. Not only was I a finalist but I WON a first-place seat in the Ally Bank Daring to Disrupt contest!

Now more than ever people are dreaming big and creating. If you’ve got something to say, show, or share, now’s the time. Don’t shrink yourself. I never regretted starting. I never regretted trying. The only regret I can think of is starting later than I did, for fear of failure. And while entrepreneurship comes with its challenges, wow oh wow does it come with its bright moments! The moral of this story is to keep pushing, keep creating, keep sharing your ideas with the world. You never know when or how someone will notice. Keep people close that believe in you and want to see you win.

When I say we are thankful… it is an understatement. Huge thanks and smiles to all of our customers and community; we wouldn’t be here without you! Y’all ain’t seen nothing yet! We can’t wait to continue to grow and serve our community in the best way possible! Thank you to all of the judges for this INSANE opportunity. Thank you to my mom, aunt, and brother for the constant support. And lastly, but surely not least, thank you to my late father for encouraging me to be the very best I can be always. This one’s for you.

Hugs,