Red Deer's Small Business of the Year 2017

What a way to put a bow on our 10th year in business. What an incredible honour to be chosen as THE BEST small business in the city.  We just cant put into words how special that night was, or how special every single message and comment of congratulations is. Women who knew our Mom are messaging from all over Alberta to express their well wishes and share stories of her. There truly could be no greater honour than to have the chance to share her legacy with the community that has helped make our dreams come true. This has been the highlight of this Bra Lounge journey, no question.

Up on that stage, in front of our colleagues, mentors, and friends, we felt it so necessary to give the credit to one person who's life shaped ours the most. But talking about something so emotional for us, in the spotlight we were under, was terrifying! Needless to say, the words came when they needed to and although I missed mentioning our incredible husbands who have to put up with so much to let us follow this dream - oops - I did say what I needed to for our dear Mama. 

Here's the jist!
"30 years ago, 2 little girls  had a dream of owning their own business, because they were too bossy and stubborn to play well with others, and couldn't imagine having to work for someone else. 20 years ago, our family faced the worst tragedy of our lives, an event that crippled us and blew up everything we thought our future would look like. 10 years ago, we jumped on an opportunity to put a childhood dream into motion. And 10 years later, here we are."

She's our WHY
She was a farm girl from Saskatchewan, and I'm confident most people reading would know why that matters. Work ethic, humour, open-mindedness, loyalty, drive, compassion- we got so many qualities that have helped us to keep her present in our lives. We often talk to her about the store, what would she do, what should be next, and we always get the answer. We are grateful to be where we are today, but the years leading up to this moment have not exactly been a fairy tail. 

In the weeks after she passed, it was with shock and devastation that we realized how much Mom did for the family. She was infused in every conversation, every step, every plan, every decision. And in the blink of an eye, we were alone. I was the oldest, Cortney next, so at 13 and 15 we took on all the household as well as the farm responsibilities while Dad worked away. I handled outside chores and the animals, Cortney managed the house. We were lost, insecure, terrified. We were alone, often 5 days a week, while Dad worked to keep our family afloat. It truly is like a very bad dream and we had no idea when it would end.

It took 10 years to come out of that haze. A long, miserable, scary 10 years. We graduated and tried to move forward, but still we were lost. Holidays didn't mean the same as they used to, and we worried we would never feel fulfilled and truly happy again. But - that's when our The Bra Lounge journey began. February 1, 2007. We had nothing to lose, and only one way to go - UP!  We knew we wanted to help women like our Mom who deserved everyday comfort and security as she ran tirelessly from one responsibility to another. We also wanted to help girls like us who didn't know where to go or how to ask for help if they didn't have that experienced woman in their lives. We wanted to couple better quality products with compassionate, respectful customer service. We better understood now the challenges and obstacles in a woman's daily life, and we wanted to give more to make everyday life better. 

Now, another 10 years later, everything has changed. I would give anything to go back and hug those poor kids who cried into their pillows every night. Those kids who didn't know what life could look like without the one person who knew everything about us, our needs, our struggles, our history. Those poor kids had no idea that life could, and would, turn around and come with more gifts than we ever dreamed. Today business is thriving; we have reliable staff who show up everyday excited to share their passion with their customers. We are now married with kids, which has changed everything about our excitement for family holidays. Those 3 little girls have filled our hearts with love and happiness we never dreamed we would feel again, and have helped us to feel even closer to Mom now that we are experiencing what she was as a wife and mother. Our little brother is engaged to be married to his own Saskatchewan farm girl - proving our angel in heaven is still pulling some strings!! And Dad is finding fulfillment in being Papa and sharing stories of having his own young family. 

20 years later. Business of the Year. WHAT?! How?! I know how. It's all because of her. It's all because of her love, and our loss. Our story has everything to do with the Mom, wife, friend and woman she was, but it would look much different had we never experienced losing her. Losing her was as important as having her. 

20 years ago life gave us lemons. Today, our lemonade as never been sweeter. 

Thanks to everyone for your love and encouragement. Cheers to the next 10 years!

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