The self-drive option
My first day at Pomegranite was three days after my 28th birthday. I had worked my two months’ notice at my “real” job, and on 1 July 2013, as we sat in Liz’s tiny Long Street flat drinking tea on her couch, the enormity of our leap into entrepreneurship danced around us.
Up until that point, it had felt like I’d been on a career tour bus. There was a guide, a schedule, catering – and someone else driving the bus. And suddenly I had stepped off, and opted for a self-drive experience with a friend. Except we didn’t have a map – more like… a feeling of what we might like to see and do. It felt exhilaratingly free. It felt unnervingly structure-less.
We knew we didn’t want to follow the route that had been plotted out at our previous jobs. But we also didn’t have a clear idea, yet, of what “our” way looked like. There was just the open road, paper and a pen. We drew the map as we went.
Before this starts to sound a bit too Thelma-and-Louise, let me show you this.
Our first “professional” photos we had taken by an artist friend in exchange for a nice bottle of red.
When I look at them now, I am so struck by how young we were. There’s so much I want to tell these nervously optimistic (unlined) faces. I want to say:
This is the right decision. You won’t always feel certain of that – and it’s good to question it – but there will come a time when it will feel so right you will be filled with fire and overcome with gratitude for this bold step.
You will always dance with imposter syndrome, but it will evolve as you become less entangled with it. Right now it feels like an Argentine tango. Over time it will become more of a line dance. And eventually it’ll start sitting out most songs.
It’s going to be so hard. It’s going to be so worth it. Keep on going.
When the time is right, growing the team will be so rewarding. Some of your greatest joy will come from the people you work with. Each one of them will shape the business in some way.
Once you gain some momentum (and this will happen sooner than you think), you’ll be able to pay salaries every. single. month (*touch wood aggressively*). Even during a global pandemic (I know this doesn’t even sound real – it’s wild).
The decision to step away from well-paying work when it isn’t serving the business, for whatever reason, is always scary. Not once will you regret it.
You will experience all the clichés of being women in business. You will learn how to navigate this until it becomes a part of the business DNA – but certainly not the most interesting thing about you.
Your idea of creating something different, a culture where people are valued over profits, is so important. It will guide your decisions again and again. Treat it as a compass.
This partnership will be the most important and meaningful one of your lives – except perhaps for your two actual life partners (who will both be completely amazing, by the way, great job).
One day you’ll be chatting to a stranger and they’ll ask what you do and you’ll tell them, and they’ll say, “Oh Pomegranite, yes I’ve heard of you guys.” And you will feel real.
A lot can happen in nine years. Not only does the business feel “real” now – it feels unique and intentional and worthwhile. I’m so proud of the work we do and the clients we serve. I’m so proud of the team and their work ethic, dedication, sense of humour, intelligence, expertise and kindness. I’m proud of those two young people who had NO idea what they were doing at first, but figured it out together.
Here’s another photo, taken almost nine years later. The “mom-egranites”, they call us.
I’m glad we stepped off the tour bus. Thanks for being part of the journey. And, as I wring the last drops out of this metaphor – I can’t wait to see where we go next.
Happy ninth birthday, Pomegranite!View presentation