I think about myself as a girl a lot. Most times when I think about 8-year-old Megan, a phrase comes to mind that is something along the lines of “Do things today that your younger self would be proud of, inspired by, and excited to become.”
In my head, I wonder what she’d think of me today. She would probably be a little disappointed that I didn’t end up as an Olympic Gold Medal Ski Racer (my childhood dream since before I can remember). She might be somewhat excited that as an adult, there is no one stopping me from eating dessert whenever I want… Actually, she’d be absolutely thrilled to know that that lies ahead.
Most of all, I think my younger self would be in awe of where I am today. Excited, but also surprised. To have started a company at 17, figured out how to build products, hire a team, grow a brand, and survive through the intense pitfalls that come with any start-up journey. I know she would be proud of that.
But, she would be surprised as to how I ended up where I am. My path was not following the plan set out in front of me to finish high school, go to Middlebury, ski race, find a career, and follow the rules already in place.
I think that’s because it’s difficult to become what you can’t see.
My younger self needed to see the people around her, particularly women, breaking rules and making their own paths. I remember my slightly older teenage self feverishly looking for other women role models when I contemplated not going to college who had done the same. In less than two seconds, someone would say “Well look at Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg. They dropped out, and it worked out really well!” I would think to myself, well first of all, you can’t ‘drop out’ if you never start to begin with. Strike one. And secondly, I didn’t know of a single woman who had done that. Where were the names of women I could pull out of a hat as an example I could emulate?
Where were the girls in high school starting companies? Girls at 19 raising capital and moving to New York City by themselves? Girls at 20 who were navigating their products in Nordstrom department stores? Girls at 21 learning the tax ramifications of S Corps, LLCs, and shareholder equity conversions. Girls who didn’t go to college but were still smart, articulate, driven and successful.
Those were the role models I wanted, but often had a hard time finding.
Through this journey, and the constant reflection about my younger self, I understood that even though 8-year-old Megan may not have seen my path in front of her, other girls could.
I decided I could help make that path for them. Not carefully, not gracefully, and far from perfectly. I was going to take steps, leaps and jumps away from where I was supposed to go with the hopes and perhaps unwarranted confidence that I really could create something bigger than myself. Bigger than a bra. And ultimately, build something that girls anywhere could look up to as an example of something great.
If I could tell her one thing, I would say:If the path in front of you doesn’t feel right, change the rules and make a new one.
-Megan Grassell, 24-year-old Founder/CEO of Yellowberry
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