April and May of 2009
I had allowed Mary to create an environment where I thought I needed her more than I did. Truth be told; no one ever does something like this to us without our permission. I am attempting to take responsiblity for my contribution to my own mistakes, I find it’s much more empowering. If you are able to recognize and be aware of how you contributed then you can actively change things. Not that I think she was an angel, not by a long shot, but I can only change me.
The following is the part of the story that I am most embarrassed about. In fact even when it happened I didn’t tell anyone because I knew I was being walked on. Like I’ve mentioned before; I became friends with Mary and there were days where she was upset about the surgeries and I consoled her. One day I was having a bad day, I don’t remember specifics but mainly that I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to pull off this launch.
I find that when you start a new business, a business where you have no specific training and no guide or guidelines and the business is built on creativity it can be very scary. For reasons I can’t even remember, I was very upset and she spent some time showing me how far I had come, how much I had accomplished and then told me the stories of others she’s worked with that had gone through the same things.
Then she presented me with a box and said something along the lines of “everyone told Taryn she couldn’t make a comfortable high heel and she proved them wrong and here’s the proof. Keep these in your office for your inspiration. When you start feeling like things are impossible, let them inspire you.” In the box was a pair of Taryn Rose high heels, I thanked her and left feeling better.
I’ve mentioned before how many times I had to have her correct her invoices for “mistakes” but what I didn’t mention was that as time wore on these “mistakes” were happening more frequently. Although she would correct the errors most of the time, I sensed a slight hostility, nothing that I paid much attention to at first. I would notice that when she had to correct an error, she would be unavailable for meetings for weeks at a time following the correction.
This gift came at a time where we were focusing on getting funding, in the way of a small business loan or looking at possible investors. I was working day and night preparing my business plan, creating the cash flow projections and meeting with potential banks. I found a bank that I thought might be the right choice for me and had an initial meeting with the Vice President and the SBA loan manager. The meeting went well and they suggested I gather the necessary information and formally pitch my business. Mary had indicated all along that she would be there for me and help me in my presentation.
Not too long before the bank meeting Mary and I were meeting to discuss the presentation and last-minute details. Before I left she said “oh I forgot to give this to you, your invoice”. When I saw it, I about fell over, there was a charge for the Taryn Rose heels she had “given” to me as inspiration. I was stunned, so many thoughts swirling around in my mind. I said something to her about the charge, honestly I don’t even remember what I said but I clearly remember her reaction. She responded as if I had misunderstood and there was nothing wrong, as if she was doing me a favor because she had only charged me her cost for the shoes. These were her samples from when she had been a rep for Taryn Rose.
I walked out without saying much else, the more I thought about it the madder I got, but in the end I paid it without another word. I didn’t tell anyone what she had done, not even my husband. I think I couldn’t say anything because if I told anyone then I would have to fire her. I was afraid that I needed her, especially with the bank meeting right around the corner. I had so much stress building that my reasoning was that after the presentation I would figure things out. I paid the bill knowing I was getting screwed and reasoned with myself that sometimes you do these things for the greater good. I should have known better but, because I didn’t, the brick wall was on its way.
The kicker is that they were a sample size 6 and I wear a 7, so I couldn’t even wear them. I left them in a box in my office because I found every time I saw them I would get angry. To this day I believe this was the point in which she thought she could get away with anything. I could not have possibly prepared myself for her next move.