I am woman, hear me roar. Helen Reddy’s song reached #1 on the charts in 1972. I was nine. Young enough to be influenced, according to the lyrics, that my gender had no barriers. Having a mom who owned and operated a small hair salon certainly didn’t hurt either. Of course, that’s not to say it’s been an easy road to navigate this business I’ve nurtured and nourished over the past 25 years.
Raising two beautiful kids while running my company definitely had challenges. I spent many years doing most of my work only after they went to bed, and staying up until 2 AM to make deadlines. As they got older, my schedule changed with them. Sometimes a midday school play, doctor appointment or teacher meeting. Other times, spending a whole week across the country for a swim meet. I loved the flexibility, although it was very challenging to juggle the priorities — you know, like cleaning the house. But hey, I am woman, I can roll.
Back in the early 90’s we worked with outside manufacturers to make our products for us, but then it happened … They started outsourcing. I’m passionate about made in America. So this was near and dear to my heart. If our manufacturers wanted to move operations out of the USA, then heck we’ll just do it ourselves. And so it began, our journey into manufacturing. In the beginning, I admit I wasn’t sure where to start. But thankfully I had Cris, my right-hand-lady and expert seamstress. I am woman, and I had another one by my side, so let’s rock.
I’m over the assumptions, because almost everyone assumes my company is run by a man. Going to mattress manufacturing trade shows, an industry largely dominated by men, I’m no longer surprised when suppliers direct their conversation towards Hans, my right-hand-man and customer care extraordinaire. It’s actually a great opportunity for me to gain insight of the boys’ club who assume all the women attending are assistants and receptionists. I am woman. I am invincible, not invisible.
Most of the time I’m not Wonder Woman. Every strong woman knows to surround herself with superheroes. When my family, friends and colleagues are standing by my side, I make that transformation easily. Without them, and without our loyal customers, this road I travel would be lonely and strenuous. I am woman. I am strong. But I am stronger with others.
Just like everyone, through the years I’ve had my share of tragedies and disappointments which resulted in set-backs. But I’ve learned that when you get stuck in the mud, kick it off. If that doesn’t work, take off the boots. Just keep going. Because if I have to, I can do anything. I am woman.
Cheryl Hahn is Founder and CEO of CozyPure® and Organic Comfort Zone / Tomorrow’s World. Established in 1991 as a direct-to-consumer green-living home-goods vertical retailer, specializing in organic comfort bedding products. The CozyPure® workshop is located in Norfolk, Virginia where products are handcrafted and shipped all across the country.