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Riding the Emotional Roller Coaster of Starting a Business

A cart goes whooshing by. People are screaming—some out of fear and others excitement. You look up at the hundreds of thousands of pounds of metal, thinking: “I can’t believe I’m trusting that to take me upside down and spin me all around.”

Why do people ride roller coasters? The excitement of the unknown, the adrenaline rush, experiencing a feeling that no normal human body can create on its own… but that feeling isn’t for everyone. It sounds like starting a business. And while you’re standing in line (so to speak), so many people will tell you how hard it is, how scary it is, don't trust the metal, get out of line while you can. Others will tell you that if you can just make it past the first drop, it’s the most incredible ride of your life.

I feel like Kelly and I just clicked our way to the top and, hands raised, eyes closed and mouth wide open, screamed our way down the first drop. Scary!!! But we made it… and have so much more of the ride to go. We’re strapped in; we’re committed. There’s no turning back now. We’re excited about the potential of what’s to come, but also terrified that it could all fall apart right from under us.

It’s a roller coaster of emotions. One day I feel like I’m on top of the world and I’m stoked that we actually started a business after years of dreaming. It truly feels surreal. Then the next day I’m crying because I’m scared, poor and we haven’t had any sales in days.

I try to focus on the good stuff—the excitement and the adrenaline. It's a lot easier when you’re having fun, but even when things get hard or I feel like I can’t ride this ride any longer, I remember the feeling of seeing our logo for the first time, seeing someone else wear our logo on a shirt or bringing our first sketch to life in a kit. This is what keeps me going. This is what allows me to be “comfortable” (let’s use that word loosely here) spending my entire savings account and maxing out multiple credit cards to help our dreams come alive. To be completely transparent, I’ve invested more than $30k into this business. You just said ‘WHOA’ out loud, didn’t ya? You’re thinking you would never be able to spend that much money on something you didn't know would work or not. I thought that, too. But every time I think about MCREY’s potential, I realize there’s no amount of money I won't spend to make this the best women’s extreme sports apparel brand. There’s no amount of money I won’t spend to make sure we’re providing thoughtful, quality gear.

Another thing that keeps me going is the support from our friends and family. If you’re starting a business, make sure to surround yourself with badass people. It makes the process so much easier. People who will buy your product, champion your brand and share your story. Don’t get me wrong, it’s important to have some realistic support (someone who will provide honest feedback if there’s opportunity for improvement), but this process is filled with so much doubt. I consider myself a relatively confident person, but I have questioned myself more during the past 10 months starting this business than my entire 28 years on this Earth.

  • What if people hate it and this doesn’t work?
  • What if no one buys anything?
  • Are people going to tear me apart on social media?
  • What if people in the industry laugh at us?

But, what if people love it...?
  • What if we become the #1 brand for women’s extreme sports apparel?
  • What if P!NK calls us and wants to collab on a collection?
  • What if we're the exact people to set this male-dominated industry on fire?
  • What if we create a lane for future generations of women and girls to fall in love with extreme sports?

Now that’s badass.

I don’t want to overlook or downplay the hardships to make myself look better. In my opinion, how you handle yourself through the hard times (the waiting in line, the drops, the loops, when the roller coaster stalls for more than 30 minutes) says more about your character, determination and passion than what you do during the climb. Studies show that within the first year, 20% of businesses fail; and 50% fail by year five. I believe it. When you’re in debt, spending even more money to redo a collection of shirts that misprinted, running on little sleep, working another full time job and haven’t had a sale in days, it’s easy to feel like you’re never going to make it. Like the roller coaster is going to fall apart while you’re riding it. I’ve definitely felt that… sometimes three times a day…

But there’s also a part of me that knows we’re doing something that could change an entire industry—and things like that take time. They take patience, trust in yourself, hard work and a lot of consistency. So despite the fear, the waiting, the heart-sinking drops, and the unknown, we decided to get on this roller coaster for a reason, and we’re not getting off unless the roller coaster physically falls apart beneath us. Because even if hundreds of people tell us no, that we’re crazy, or incapable, there’s at least two people who know we will succeed—us —and that’s all we need.

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