There I am, standing at the front of an excited crowd, amongst the women I’ve spent the last six weeks with refining our brand vision as part of a programme called Brand Amplifier. I’ve just delivered the pitch of my life, during which my hands shook and I suffered involuntary breath gulps. I have heartily clapped and whooped my fellow Brand Amplifiees for third and second place and have accepted that, with that, my chances are done. I wait with baited breath to see who has nabbed top spot. And then, they call my name! In shock I bound on to the stage and deliver the most unprepared acceptance speech including the phrases “I’m a really creative person” and “I’m so proud of myself!”.
It’s at this moment that the question “How did I end up here?” floated in to my head. Don’t get me wrong; it’s not always like this. There are also moments when I’m pausing for breath two flights up, with two to go, for the fortieth time that day with a giant box in my arms, or delivering hugely expensive artworks to eccentrically extravagant mansions in the country, which encourage the same question.
I did my fair share of marching up and down stairs carrying heavy weights in the Fire Brigade and it is here that the idea for my company, Van Girls, was born. I reached a point in my fire brigade career when I didn’t want to progress any further up the ranks and I was happy and comfortable at my station and on my watch, so my mind started to search for the next challenge. What could I do with my days off during the week that would earn me a bit of extra pocket money and occupy my mind. Not having a trade to speak of and full of the warmth I received from the general public when they realised a female firefighter had turned up, I slowly came to the realization that a woman and van service could be really popular. I was strong, I liked pushing myself to my limits physically and firefighting had given me great practical problem solving skills – it was perfect.
So, here I am, two years later, an ex-firefighter, CEO and Founding Director of the now ‘award-winning’ Van Girls, employer of two full time staff and fifteen casual staff and with a ‘fleet’ of two beautiful vans, soon to be three. I’m going to use this blog to tell you the story of how I got here, where I‘m heading and some of the moments I feel are worth sharing along the way. I’m only two flights up, with at least two to go until I will really feel like I’ve made it somewhere, but I have a feeling when I get up the next two, I’ll turn the corner and two more will appear.