On a cold winter morning in the outskirts of Long Island City, I found myself at trapeze school. I’ve always enjoyed being upside-down; I find being inverted strangely calming and freeing. Yet the idea of doing it 40 feet in the air had the opposite effect.
After the basic safety training, we were shown a demonstration of the trick we would perform, the knee-hang. My turn felt like a death sentence as I climbed up the ladder with my chalked hands to the suspended platform. Once I reached the top, my heart was racing. I grabbed the bar; it was heavier than I expected. The command to jump rang out, yet I stood frozen. It took three calls for me to actually jump off the platform. Once I did, I flew forward, and somehow managed to get my knees over the bar and hang upside down. It was exhilarating.
I walked off the netting, and awaited instructions for the next trick. First came a back flip dismount, and finally a catch. Evan, our instructor, sat swinging on another trapeze, and would catch me by the arms after I would somehow manage to jump, hang upside down and reach out. When it came time for my first attempt at a catch, I panicked. I scrambled and practically clawed Evan, hoping to be caught. When he caught me, I let go, too scared and clueless of what was actually happening. At my next turn, I collected myself, and prepared for the catch. I practiced the hand position, and watched the woman ahead of me. I could do this. And I did. It was a clean catch, and it felt amazing.
My experience at trapeze school was not unlike my road to becoming a founder. I had little experience in technology and no experience in beauty other than being a hair-junkie. In founding VIVE, I dove headfirst into both. Alright, I didn’t exactly dive right away, but after testing the water and dipping my toes I did take the plunge. It took a few calls to jump, and a few full on misses, but finally I was able to actually fly forward.
Prior to VIVE, I worked on Wall Street, a well-trodden path for many of my peers; first in trading, and later in research. I felt early on that Wall Street would not be my final destination. I itched for more: more creativity, more excitement, and ownership of something that I could help build. I came up with a series of ideas, and even found a technical co-founder for one, but none really stuck. While my energy and excitement were firmly in place, my confidence and self-assurance were still waiting on the platform and unwilling to jump.
This went on for far too long, and exhausted my friends and family. My lack of confidence became so crippling that it was preventing me from the career and life I wanted. Realizing this was a turning point for me, and what I needed to help get me through that first “trick.” So, I pursued an idea I had in earnest, and worked to mitigate any risks that might erode my confidence.
Again, my heart was racing, from the simultaneous excitement and panic of starting up. This time it was not the comforting call of my instructor that finally allowed me to leave the safety of the platform but the support of and faith in my team. First, there is my co-founder, who is a perfect counterpart to me. She is a ray of positivity that, even if I panicked and clawed, would always catch me. Next, our developer, would be the translator for our aspirations, and would build the structure for us to all climb. And finally, a head of marketing who could draw our vision into a distinct picture, making the moving pieces fall into synch with one another.
When I climbed the ladder again and started VIVE I knew that there was the possibility that I could panic or fall, but it was the times that came before that allowed me to stand on that tiny platform and reach my hands out with confidence. This time I would jump on the first call and I would know how to let go and trust the structure and team that I had built up around me. This time I would reach out my arms in earnest towards the possibility of a clean catch.