I didn’t grow up with a dream to have my own business or even more specifically that I would end up in the home furnishings biz.

I grew up knowing that I wanted to make a difference….plain and simple.

For many many years I quite assumed that this would play out  by becoming a social worker and that I would open my home to troubled children as my parents had during my lifetime. And then I went to Haiti , first time as an impressionable 12 year old/ending up as a volunteer fresh out of college, and I thought it made sense to segue from being a cultural liaison, which I did for 3 years,  to pursue a degree in development education and further evolve that which had started with my time in Haiti.

I desperately wanted to help the people of Haiti, of this country where I spent more than 5 years of my life, which I had kado banana cardGOTTEN so much from, including a husband, and to which I wanted to offer something in return.  It was important to me. I was open to ideas.  Giving back to Haiti was how I wanted to make a difference.

Think outside of the box. Remember your goal, help the people of Haiti, and not necessarily by educating Americans, as I was pursuing….how can this be done?

kado cardAs a tour guide I had made many friends in the crafts people of Haiti, with whom I would encourage my visitors to shop. Limited market. Great product.  Help these people by bringing their product to America and selling for them. Over a sandwich at Chez Tony’s, with Mark Olbrych/then fiance/now husband of 28 years,  on Delmas 31 in Port au Prince Haiti, my first business, Kado D’Haiti, was born. Translated “Gifts from Haiti” this name spoke to me at many levels. Not just that the business was selling Gifts From Haiti, but that I had received so many Gifts , I said that already didn’t I?, from Haiti, that I wanted to Gift Back.

Through Kado D’Haiti I felt satisfied that I was making a difference/supporting Haitian families as I bought and sold their crafts. And with moving from Haiti to Boston and then to Waterloo Ontario, I did this…oh yeah, and all the while birthing and raising 3 babies, for nigh on 5 years, at which time a move to Asia would merit me passing the reigns of my precious business to my sister. I was sad, to say good bye to this part of who I was.

For the next 8 years I would be making a difference by being full time mom and expat wife as we moved our family to mark kids 1Bangkok Thailand, and then Taichung Taiwan.  On the side I would contribute to women’s groups…at one point being the “expert” on Making a Life in a Country Not your Own, offering advice to those new to this realm. I was served happily as the consummate party thrower.  It was good.

1999 we would move our family to the States, to start the next chapter…the chapter which my current tribe knows me best for….as owner of Antiques by Zaar. Husband took leave of his corporate career and we started his and her businesses, from our farmhouse in Maine.  Big changes of all sorts for all of us.

zaarlogo2The next 10 years I would make my difference by learning and working a business from it being nothing but a dream and  having a “failure is not an option” attitude, with my husband, to support our family. Well, we did have connections, we did have a corporate guru and we did have a keen sales person, BUT we did NOT have it all figured out before plunging in...that I can assure you.  I guess you could say we had vision and my family counted on living off of the income from this biz, and thus I/we were driven. And we were successful.

But we were now entrenched in the home furnishings biz. Just say 2008 to anybody in this biz and see what kind of reaction/litany of stories you get, on what changes needed to be made to keep it all going.  For our family that meant that husband would leave the biz and return to the corporate world/moving to New York, so we could have a paycheck we could count on to support our 3 college students and, well, our home.

ruth showhouse for home page resized for hpThat was 5 years ago. I took on the whole Antiques by Zaar enchilada, doing whatever needed to be done, and more learning/boning up on the things that husband had done for the biz that I hadn’t touched. My goal was to survive….to not let the economy, or anything, get in the way of this business I was so entrenched/vested in, to  BE.

It was more about making it, than making a difference. Funny thing is though that by making it, by no means am I talking as if I have “arrived”/still very very much a work in progress, I have something to share with others that may be travelling a similar path, and by doing so I am indeed able to stay true to my calling of wanting to make a difference.

I have had numerous road blocks. Quite possibly my self being the biggest.  I have experienced more than my share of doubts. I have been distracted,  and I have  made mistakes. BUT I have not given up on myself, and just when my biggest doubts loom,” something” happens that encourages me forward, call it a God Wink if you will,  to keep on keeping on.

I’ve surrounded myself with people that support, encourage, listen, and offer guidance. I’ve reached out for help. I’ve wordslearned that even though the survival of my business is contingent on ME fueling it forward, that I don’t have to ...actually can’t, do it alone. AND that now that I have survived, it is time to do more than that and THRIVE.

I am further spurred forward to successfully forge my way on, to show other women, that quite frankly, if I can do it, YOU can do it too. Working to be successful in my business is what I need to do to be true to my mission of “making a difference”….and part of that is sharing this with my world,….crawling out from under the rock I’ve been hiding under.

Because I’m so stubborn, and it takes me a LONG time to learn some lessons, this process has taken longer than it “should”, but then again, because it is so very personal might be the very reason it is such a winding road.

I am so thankful for the many female role models I have in my life that SHOW me what ONE WOMAN can do/be, and I raise my glass to them and I aspire to join WITH them in Being a Woman that is Making a Difference.

ruth fb profileOnward and upward.