While I was at Pure Romance National Training in Cincinatti in April, I had the honor of meeting our company’s founder Patty Brisben and telling her about the impact her Professionista program had on me and my business. She said she loved it and asked me to email her the story. I thought I would share that email with all of you as well.
It was such a pleasure to meet you at the Night at Races event during National Training. Before our picture together, I was able to tell you briefly about buying a blazer to wear at my parties. You asked me to email you the story:
As a little background, I grew up within the city limits of Philadelphia. My grandfather was a promising student, but was orphaned after the first World War and pulled out of school at the age of 12. He went on to become a steel welder and helped build many bridges and rail systems throughout the city. He raised his family in an area of the city called Kensington which is memorable as the rough neighborhood depicted in the Rocky movies. My father was the only one of his three children to finish highschool. My dad went on to college, but in spite of this, he spent most of his working life underemployed, frustrated and in debt. He retired recently after more than 30 years as a letter carrier with the US Postal Service.
It wasn’t until I was in college that I opened a sociology text book and realized to my shock that I was from a “working class” family. It should have been obvious, I know, but I think carried within me the hopes of my father and grandfather of being worthy of a life beyond that. Still, I remember graduating, getting married at 22, struggling to find a job and starting out in a tiny underground apartment. I thought, “This is it. You are what you are born into. Upward mobility isn’t really possibly anymore. I’m going to be poor the rest of my life.”
In 2010, my husband and I bought accomplished something I had already given up on: owning a house. It is tiny, only 682 square feet, but it’s ours. I looked at my then little 2.5 year old running around in it and began to hope again that we could make something better for ourselves than where we came from – if not for us, for our kids. I signed up with Pure Romance with the intention of finally getting out the debt that was holding us back from forward momentum. It was a struggle. It was hard to book parties. Sometimes the parties were terrible. I had moments where I really wanted to give up.
It was about at this point that you started the Professionista program. I understood it, I thought, but I was puzzled to the point of being annoyed by the suggestion that we wear blazers to our parties. It seemed too stuffy and pretentious for what we do. In truth, I had worn jackets before and always felt awkward, like a little girl playing dress up. It wasn’t who I was, I thought. I am not a girl who wears a suit. However, you followed the recommendation with the story about the consultant who started wearing a jacket to parties and how she felt it helped her sales. Well, I was all about that, so I went out and bought one in spite of my doubts.
I will never forget the first time I saw myself in that jacket before a party. I looked at myself in the mirror and realized that I was the first person in my family to wear a suit to work. It was magical. In that moment, I went from a working class girl to a business woman. I was no longer an employee. I was the boss. That jacket completely transformed my thinking about myself, about my business and about my future. A big part of what keeps us stuck in the places we come from is the BELIEF that we’re trapped and that we can’t forge our paths. Pure Romance has shown me that it is possible. It has shown me that believing in yourself can get you places you never dreamed of – not just physically or financially, but more importantly, in your point of view, in how you think of yourself. That person who looks back at me in mirror before a party IS who I am. It always was. I just didn’t know it until I saw her. And maybe I never would have if I hadn’t put on that suit.
So, this is a thank you for everything, but most especially for that jacket.
My best regards,
Grace Ellis Barber