To say that 2020 has been a tough year would be the understatement of the century. This year has brought the world to its knees, and my life is no exception. This is a story of how I picked myself back up. How I channeled my energy into starting a business after journeying down a rocky path to motherhood. But mostly, how I reawakened the lion inside me, which is as fierce as ever.
My tough 2020 started on January 2nd, just months before the pandemic began. To ring in the New Year, we had friends coming to visit us from Spain. My husband and I excused ourselves from playing tour guides for a routine check-up with our OB-GYN. That visit would be, what we thought, our first listen to our baby’s heartbeat. It never occurred to me that something could go wrong, or that life might deviate from the plan.
Truth is, I was one of those people that fell into the “a miscarriage could never happen to me” category. Sure, they told me that it happens to one in four women when trying to get pregnant, but that wasn’t the news I was expecting to hear on January 2nd. It’s hard not to put on the rose-colored glasses when you’ve got the excitement of becoming a mom on the horizon. And it’s because of those glasses that the words spoken by my OB-GYN that day brought me to my knees.
I tried to toughen up. I tried to swallow that heart-breaking pill. But getting over it wasn’t that simple. I couldn’t get out of bed. I felt empty inside. Like I had failed at becoming a mom. Like I had failed at my duty as a wife. My entire life I’ve had this mantra that I can accomplish anything I set my mind to. But this was the first time that everything felt completely out of my control.
I called friends and family for support. Instead, what I heard was, “You’re so young, you’ve got time.” And, “I have a friend who had it worse.” And then, of course, “You just started trying, this happens to everyone.” It’s as if I was asking permission to be sad, and all I got back was a move-on response blanketed in empty consolation words. I’d never felt more alone in my life.
When women suffer a loss like this, the healing period doesn’t boil down to a single moment in time. It takes weeks to recover physically, months to process emotionally, and even longer to overcome mentally.
After a few months of dealing with mild depression, my husband encouraged me to talk to a professional. I realized that I was looking for support in all the wrong places. On top of that, I had a mountain of residual emotions from old childhood trauma resurfacing that I never really dealt with. Emotions have a sneaky way of bubbling their way back up, whether you’re ready to process them or not. And in hindsight, talking to a therapist was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
I started getting acupuncture a couple times a week, taking vitamins daily, meeting with a fertility specialist, tracking my ovulation cycle, getting blood work done, and cutting back on the coffee and alcohol. I knew that staying in bed wasn’t going to fix my fertility issues. What I needed was motivation, a distraction, something to lift my spirit again. That’s when I started to flesh out my idea for a business.
Starting a company wasn’t something that I ever really thought about seriously. But in all honesty, I had no interest in returning to the corporate life grind.
Before the world went on lockdown, I took a solo trip to Oaxaca, Mexico (if you haven’t visited, add it to your bucket list immediately!). That trip was a major turning point for me. It’s one thing to put your idea on paper, but it’s a whole other thing to start building it alone, in a foreign country, while putting your own dollars on the line.
The best part was getting the chance to connect with the community. I’d wander through the markets, falling in love with the hand-stitched Otomi coasters that took hours and hours to make, speaking with the local merchants and sourcing products, while soaking up every drop of knowledge from the Oaxacan mezcaleros.
As the daughter of a Colombian immigrant, I’ve always had the belief that I can figure anything out. In fact, it was entrepreneur and author Marie Forleo who said it best: “everything is figureoutable.” I took those words to heart. I spent hours listening to podcasts, downloading audible books, and going down the Google rabbit hole. After many trials (and plenty of errors), I took my savings and an investment from my husband, and was finally ready to introduce Pass the Salt to the world.
I wanted to create something that simplified the art of hosting while capturing cultural traditions and giving people an excuse to gather with friends—something that felt particularly crucial this year. And Pass the Salt—an at-home hosting experience filled with cocktails mixers, tablescape additions sourced from my travels, and personalized entertainment recommendations—really achieves that.
What I’ve learned from starting a company is when you take a leap of faith, it’s not always going to be a smooth landing. But putting your energy toward something that you’re passionate about, something that motivates you, even in the face of failure, is what makes the leap worth taking.
When the second miscarriage came, it really dawned on me that fertility might be more of a journey than I’d hoped for. But this time around, I felt more equipped to handle it. This time, I gave myself space to heal. This time, I had a reason to get out of bed.
Motherhood will come when it’s meant to come, but right now, I’m focusing on sowing the seeds of my brand like it’s my child—watering it, nurturing it, watching it grow.