How I went from having a dead end job and hating my life to successfully launching a company and finding happiness…
Have you ever heard the saying, “You have to get lost before you can be found?” Yeah, I thought that was crap too. But that’s exactly what happened to me.
I was lost. Like… crying in my car, banging my head against the steering wheel, clinging to a fortune cookie quote like it was my life’s last hope.
I was an “actress” in Los Angeles working as a delivery driver at night. That means I delivered food from fancy Beverly Hills restaurants to really rich people. So naturally, being an overachiever (I had my Master’s Degree at 21), I couldn’t help but feel like I wasn’t living to my potential. The few acting jobs I booked were wonderful but the in-between time killed my spirit.
Let me quickly say, I know I am fortunate and it could have been much worse. I wasn’t homeless, starving (definitely NOT starving), or suffering from an incurable illness. But regardless, I was still lost. My life wasn’t progressing like I had hoped. And that was disappointing.
Meanwhile, all of my friends back home were getting married, having kids, buying houses, and making the normal transition into adulthood.
AND I WAS DELIVERING FOOD. Maybe getting one or two auditions a MONTH… if I was lucky. Managing my apartment building just so I could get a rent reduction. Being told by my acting manager that my butt was too big and I needed to start a juice cleanse. And drowning in student loan debt that will be paid off when I’m 94. But let’s be realistic, probably 97.
So… with that said, during my delivery runs, I would usually snag the fortune cookies out of the customer’s bag. I’m not totally careless though — I made sure to leave a few so they wouldn’t get suspicious. On pins and needles, I would crack open the fortune cookie like it was a magical crystal ball that would lead me down the yellow brick road to happiness.
Obviously, it didn’t. It’s a fortune cookie. There’s a reason they give them away for free.
Then I moved to my fiancé for answers. Surely he would know what to do with my life. I laid restless in the bathtub. He sat on the counter just listening. I must have vented for 30 minutes without a peep from him. When I finally stopped to take a breath and see if he was even awake, I noticed his face was white. He sat silent for several moments and then simply said, “If your life was a food item, it would be a sloppy joe.” I laughed… briefly. And then I cried.
Even though I had been with my fiancé since my freshman year of high school and he knew me better than ANYONE in the world, he couldn’t fix me. This was something I had to do for myself.
As a last resort, I started making a list. A list of everything I loved and wanted to do (aside from acting). After much analysis, my list came to this:
- Be creative
- Charity work
- Empower girls
- Build something I believe in
And there it was. It just clicked. Every Ella allowed me to do everything I wanted to do.. all in one. But there was no Every Ella… so I had to create it.
Every Ella is a lifestyle brand completely centered around empowering girls through fashion and raising money for charity. All of our shirts have original, positive messages and $3 from every purchase goes to charities focused specifically on girls and women. My vision for Every Ella is to be more than a brand, but a sense of community and support for girls.
After over a year of working my night job, saving every penny, writing, editing, sampling, brainstorming, and driving myself crazy, the true beginning is here. We have launched, and although now is when the real work begins, I am loving every minute.
No, most of my struggles aren’t immediately solved. I still have to make money doing random jobs to get by and invest in the company. I still have student loans. I still manage my building. I still have a sloppy joe style life. And that’s okay. Because I am happy.
Well, ONE problem actually IS solved. I kicked the acting manager to the curb. Big butts are in anyways!
In all seriousness, I would have never been here without my mini quarter-life crisis. One of my friends was worried about me being so open and honest about my struggles, because Every Ella is all about empowering girls. But I think it’s important to share that you don’t always have to be strong. In fact, it’s just not practical. Life will undoubtedly knock us all down at some point, but the most important thing is that we get back up.
That’s what Every Ella helped me do. I’m back up. Ready to work. Ready to fight. Ready to change the world.
I did say I was an overachiever.
About the Author
Lauren Denham is Founder and CEO of Every Ella, a lifestyle brand for girls with a mission to empower and unite through fashion and community.