On January 28, I stood, with the Flutter team, among family, friends, and customers, who had become friends, to accept the Business of the Year award from the Pennington Economic Development Commission. It had been two-and-a-half years since the doors of Flutter opened, and while moments from those first, exhilarating months flashed through my mind … readying the store for our grand opening, our first buying trip to New York, the first shipment that arrived, like the biggest and best Christmas morning … what gave me the greatest satisfaction and a feeling of sheer joy, was that I had listened to the voice inside of me, had summoned the courage and the confidence to take the leap, finally, and do what had been my life-long dream.
Often a woman will come into the store and ask me how I made the decision to start my own business. Was it something I always wanted to do? Yes. Was it a bit scary? Yes. Is there anything I would rather be doing? No. Sometimes I get the sense that this is something she might want to do, but has convinced herself that it is just not a good idea. “I’ll do it when my kids finish college,” or “It’s too late for me to start a new career.” And, of course, there is always the issue of financial security. All legitimate reasons. However, if the only thing stopping someone is their age, and the thought that they have waited too long to realize their dream, I will tell you that it is never too late to pursue your passion. And if you don’t know what that passion is, it’s never too late to find it. Since celebrating and encouraging women is what Flutter is all about, I decided to tell my story now, with the hope that it might be the gentle push someone needs to live the life they’ve longed for.
For as long as I can remember, I have lived and loved fashion, my bedroom wall papered with magazine covers featuring the model of the moment. I dreamed of becoming a fashion designer, or an editor at Vogue, or owning my own boutique. While I had a successful career in retailing, I never allowed myself to take the risk necessary to realize my dream, opting instead for the corporate ladder that was challenging, safe, and secure. Thankfully, I worked for a company that gave me some wonderful opportunities, and, after all, I was working for Macy’s, in a fashion business. Still, I was never totally fulfilled. Always looking for a creative outlet. I left the corporate world to care for my aging parents. I lost both of them within the same year and decided I needed some quiet time. Time to reflect, to take some yoga classes, to reconnect with old friends. Somehow I knew that quiet time would not last for long. During this self-imposed “quiet time” a friend gave me a DVD of the movie “Pirate Radio.” It is set in the late ’60s, when Great Britain bans rock and roll from the airwaves, and a group of rowdy DJs head out to international waters to play the music of their generation.
There is a scene where The Count, an American DJ, is sitting on the deck of the boat with Carl, a young man whose mother has sent him there to learn about life. They are alone, it is nighttime, and in a reflective moment, he shares his revelation with young Carl. He tells him that he realized something and instead of crushing the thought the moment it came, regrettably, he let it hang on. “What was that terrible thought?” young Carl asks. “That these are the best years of our lives. It will never be any better, and now I know it to be true.” I heard those words and got the kind of pit in my stomach that comes when something awful is about to happen and there’s no way to stop it. Can this be true? Are the best years of my life behind me? I had just turned 62. I wanted to believe that the best years of my life could still be ahead of me, that I could still get the feeling you get when everything feels new, unexpected, and unexplored.
And so began my quest to make this day, and every day ahead, the best days of my life. But where to begin? I needed a plan. The movie ended, I got out some paper and wrote “Getting to There from Here … Wherever There Is” across the top of the page and began writing. I made a list of everything that was important to me, everything I cared about and loved to do. I thought about the things that mattered when I was young and the dreams I had that were not fulfilled. Then I organized that list into categories and called it my “Best Life Plan.” After all, I wouldn’t renovate my kitchen without a plan, and this was my life! I pinned it to a large bulletin board, along with quotes that were inspirational. (“Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over, it became a butterfly.”) I now had a roadmap that reflected all the things I was passionate about, and that roadmap led to Flutter. It would be a store where all women could find affordable fashion, regardless of their age or size; where giving back by supporting issues important to the community would be important to who we were; and where celebrating and encouraging women would matter. Fashion, interior design, writing, philanthropy, interacting with people, just to name some of the things on my list. It was all there. I just had to make it happen.
I won’t go into all the details of how the store literally fell into my path, just at the right moment. (Thank you, mom.) But instead of hesitating, instead of worrying about failure and sabotaging my dream, I stood on the ledge, took that leap, and flew … just like the butterfly, breaking out of its cocoon. Someone said that the tragedy of life is not that it ends too soon, but that we wait too long to begin it. Life might be too short, but it can be wonderful when you give yourself permission to do what you love. It will make you better and happier in every other aspect of your life. And it is your life. Why not make it the best life possible?
Flutter Boutique, 20 South Main Street, Pennington. 609-737-2236.