You get an opportunity to hear from very interesting speakers who are living their passions. They are always open to discuss the tribulations that they experienced along the way. You leave with lessons from their journey to apply to your own life and business.
For March, the featured speaker was Kendra Leonard of Art of Style. Kendra is a well-dressed, spunky, larger-than-life, F-bomb-filled delight. It was a real pleasure being in the audience for this one.
Pregnant At Twenty
Kendra started right in with her personal story. When she was 20 years old, she got pregnant while she was still in college. This didn’t go over too well with her family so she had to leave school. During her pregnancy, she actually found out she was having twins. Tragically though, one of them did not make it to term. When her daughter was born, it not only changed her life but her outlook as well. She called her daughter her best friend and it seems like they are two peas in a pod.
She took a job at Banana Republic to support her new family. She did everything you can imagine from selling, inventory, and buying. Eventually, she became the community leader for one of the local stores. And this is where she began to cultivate her passion for helping others.
She started doing fashion shows to raise money for different organizations but mainly ended up focusing on Leukemia due to a friend’s child who was suffering from this disease. She talked about the success of these events and how it made her feel to help others going through this tough time.
Love of Her Life
One day, a guy named Miguel came into her store. She thought he was cute but was too afraid to ask him out. He kept coming back and finally, she said she got the courage to really talk to him and asked him out for coffee. She just forgot to notice the wedding band on his finger.
Once he confirmed he was married, she mentally moved on but kept seeing him come into the store. Kendra went on to talk about how Miguel was her boyfriend and they were so in love. In the audience, many (including myself!) were thinking – wait what happened to his wife?
It came up in the Q&A section and Kendra went back and told the story of how many months later, he told her he’d gotten a divorce and then asked her out. We all laughed since she’d left out this kind of important section of the story.
She and Miguel moved in together after 4 months and were over the moon happy. But he started feeling sick and after many blood tests, found out he had leukemia. He was very healthy and active so this was a shock. Plus, he was relatively young at only 39. She talked about the process of watching him deteriorate and how she coped with the process of him becoming well. Then the cancer returned and then he was well again, with this vicious cycle continuing for over a year.
Towards the end, he went through a clinical trial but then turned to hospice care. Tragically, Miguel passed away a month shy of his 40th birthday.
A Widow at 30
She talked about dealing with this type of loss at such a young age. She added that somehow death caused her to want to live more but she didn’t know what she wanted to do with the rest of her life.
When she got passed over for a promotion at Banana Republic (even though she’d been there for 11 years!) and her boss quit, she found her business motivation and decided to go out on her own. She started a clothing store called The Art of Style. Her goal is not to sell clothes, but to help her clients find themselves through clothing and style. Pretty cool if you ask me!
You Only Live Once
Throughout her extremely personal talk, Kendra demonstrated the theme of the month: courage. It takes courage to be a parent. It takes courage to live your life positively when faced with tragedy. It takes courage and business motivation to quit your job and start a business of your own. At the end of the talk, she shared a few ‘tips’ on how to live just a little bit happier.
First, she believes in hugs and LOTS of them. She has a daily hug quota that she encourages others to adopt. She shared that she wrote a book a few years ago about her life and her journey called You Only Live Once. Yet she hates the phrase YOLO!
Finally, before leaving the stage, Kendra shared her feelings and talked about the Six Attributes of Courage. Everything on this list was taken from her journey in life but can really be applied to anyone in any phase of life and the list is really on point.
This talk was such a treat and I feel honored for attending. Kendra’s energy and positive attitude along with her success at building a business are so inspirational.