Cold Weather, Memphis, Real Talk, travel diaries

Choose901 – An Honest New Yorker Tale

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After a week long NYC adventure in March, my husband, Ryan, and I along with three of our best friends hatched an idea to bring some new fun back to Ryan’s hometown of Memphis, Tennessee. Thanks to our team’s business and finance savvy and dare I say, grit, we opened for business just a few months later. As of July 2015, I am part owner of Memphis Escape Rooms.  Our Memphis counterparts bear the brunt of managing our 15 part time employees and daily ongoings, while Ryan and I oversee social media, marketing and branding initiatives.

Like any good marketer, I’ve been researching my customers.  I pour over our social posts to see who clicked, who hovered, who replied or retweeted. It’s my job to let our brand speak in a way that connects with real, human people. But now this thing is happening that I didn’t expect. I’m becoming quite endeared to the people of Memphis.

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Ryan has always fed me bits of Memphis sociology like the fact that Marc Gasol went to Lausanne or  Mike Conley’s story of hard work to rise to the top. He’s referenced parts of the city that are changing and updating. I should also note that it was on a corner of main street on one of our first “real” dates that my then not-even-boyfriend looked at me with eyes so full of love for me that it actually scared me. So, okay, I guess this Memphis-love has been simmering for a bit.

But now I’m all in. And here’s why.

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We moved to New York City two years ago with bright shiny dreams and the naive confidence that’s required to pack yourself up and force your way into a city that likes to “test” new occupants. Daily, I’m amazed that I’m a part of this city. Our time here has been good. Trying, but good. I’ve learned more about myself in two years than many people figure out in a decade. I can tell you about luxury brands, the newest trends, the hottest gossip, and how to get to FiDi via the C/E line- all in 10 minutes. In New York, you learn to be concise and to deliver quickly. Trying to gain access into the traditionally well-funded, well-connected fashion world has taught me to choose my words, inflection, and facial movements carefully. Once, when corresponding with someone at VOGUE magazine, I was told to not use so many exclamation points in my emails. I used two exclamation points in a 7 sentence email. #oops.  By now, I’m used to proving myself when I walk into a room. I’m used to a pair of eyes scanning my outfit top to bottom to see if I’m wearing designer shoes or carrying the newest Celine. Sometimes I am, sometimes I’m not.

Upon returning from our most recent trip to Memphis, I was just one day back in the grind when I found myself longing for the city that calls itself that very thing. While there, a meeting took place with a very prestigious  Memphis-based brand. This is a company that certainly can operate with NYC intensity, but doesn’t. After a 90 minute (!) (Sorry VOGUE!) meeting with a team that rubs shoulders with the nation’s finest, I was dumbfounded by how genuinely we were treated. No full-body scans, no condescending tone – just open creativity and a willingness to listen to a tiny little business who happens to be the new kid in town.

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It’s beginning to hit me that life doesn’t have to feel so stressful to be great. On the nights that I’m losing hair or my husband isn’t eating because our to do list only shows bright red deadlines, we certainly turn our heads down south where the business is good, the pace is markedly slower, and the tea is so so SO much sweeter.

I CHOOSE901 part-time right now for family, for success and for that big sigh that says, “I’m HOME”. If you’re thinking about switching gears, maybe you should CHOOSE901 too. It took the initial success of our little business to realize that no matter what Manhattan’s elite may infer, my husband and my friends, as well as myself, are smart. Memphians have good ideas. I see why the hilarious, yet strangely philosophical Tony Allen loves to remind us all that Memphians have grit and they positively are all heart.

Cheers y’all

Haley

All photos by the ultra-skilled Julia Hembree.

If you’d like to learn more about job opportunities in Memphis and happen to live in NYC – you’re in luck! Come chill out with sweet southerners this week in the city – I’ll be there for sure! Find out more information here

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