A little more than five years ago, I was walking my bike through a parking lot on an early spring day. I was following my then-boyfriend (now-husband, hey) to a dirt canal path to start our ride when my phone buzzed in my pocket. A new email had just landed in my inbox in response to a job application I sent to a small start-up company in New York City: Holstee.
The email said that they’d like to talk to me a little more about the position and asked if there was there a good time we could chat. I had to restrain myself from typing back in all caps, HOW ABOUT RIGHT NOW? It was the first “real” job or internship to respond to me since graduating college and I was ecstatic. I was so excited to hear a pulse on the other line. It seemed fitting that in a season of budding newness, things felt possible again, built on hope.
Like many of you, I was introduced to Holstee via their Manifesto. It came to me during a time of my life where it could not have been more fitting or more challenging. I wanted to do all of the things it encouraged me to do. I wanted to own my life and take charge of my circumstances. But also like we have heard from many in our community, I didn’t really know how or even where to start. I could not have felt less equipped to follow it through. I was a recent college graduate, entitled, bored, feeling I deserved a more interesting life story than what I was currently living. I read the black and white typeface that encouraged me to shape my own life and I agreed, but deep down? I wanted someone else to do the work.
When I walked into the sunny communal office the morning of my interview, I was stunned to find this was not the New York City office/job/world that I’d seen so many times before (in movies, mostly). These were young, smiling faces sitting around what felt like a large dining room table, pounding on their laptops, laughing, sharing food and exchanging ideas. Mike, who I spoke to first, was wearing flip-flops and shorts. I was the right amount of nervous for a job interview, but Mike immediately made me feel at ease, suggesting we that take a walk around the block rather than sit across from each other at a desk. We walked and fell into the comfortable back-and-forth of old friends. It felt more like a conversation, even during the more interview-like parts. I immediately felt like these were people I wanted to spend more time with, whose energy I wanted to absorb and bottle. My worldview until then had grown a little cynical, and it was wonderful to be in the presence of people who had carved their own path and who seemed so excited about inventing their own stories.
Fast forward to exactly five years to the month I started, and I’m getting ready to depart Holstee to move on to opening my own company. I’m hanging up my Community Love Director hat (and passing the torch to the ever-capable and talented Jennifer Lioy). And even though this was something that was planned, and talked about up to a year in advance, part of me still doesn’t feel ready. Part of me doesn’t know how to leave. I owe a big part of my decision to move on to the things I’ve learned through working with the Holstee team: drive, persistence, capability, accountability, decision-making skills, customer support, team morale. Dave and Mike (and Fabian) taught me how to be a good (future) boss. I’ve learned how to listen. I’ve learned that things take time (and then some). All the other people I’ve worked with and met because of Holstee, including the team we are now (Sarah, Massiel, Jennifer and Jess) and other people I’ve gotten to work with over the years. (Andrew, Ankit, Cody, Deidre, Emily, Kaitlyn, Mandy, Mary, Mikey, Monica, Mullica, Nirav, Thomas, Tylea, Vincent, William and Yann). They have all in some way contributed to my skills. They’ve all given me something I needed to make this next step. They saw me grow and they helped me do it, sometimes by supporting me and sometimes by challenging me.
It only seems fitting that today, the start of a month focused on Adventure is when I am off to embark on an adventure of my own: Best One Yet, a 100% vegan ice cream company (served out of the cutest 1980’s Vespa/custom sidecar set-up you’ve ever seen) based in Boulder/Longmont, Colorado. If you’re in the area, check it out - I’d love to meet you!
I can’t emphasize enough how much these last five years have meant to me. I could list countless examples of the ways I’ve been stretched and changed and moved, and so I will just leave it at this: I am so, so grateful. Thank you.
Helen Williams is a Colorado transplant who is passionate about writing, kindness, animals and vegan food. When she's not working on her new company Best One Yet (a vegan ice cream Vespa, launching in Longmont/Boulder, CO!) you can find her reading, getting outside as much as possible or trying to pet your dog.
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