For me, the most fulfilling part of owning a small biz is watching my staff grow. I love to see my girls mature, speak louder, gain confidence and develop their own sense of style. Empowering women is one of H&H’s BIGGEST core values. We work tirelessly at this. Accordingly, our latest staff meeting wasn’t about new products, sales skills or new company policies, but really about KICKING ASS!
I’d like to be able to tell you that hosting a self-defense class was my altruistic idea to add another level to our empowerment strategy, but it wasn’t. The class was my reaction to an experience that we all shared together about 6 months ago. This isn’t to say that I don’t think the idea of our self-defense class is awesome and that I don’t wish we held this class on the regular. But our scary and violating experience pushed me into high gear, and expanded my focus on the emotional empowerment of my staff to physical empowerment as well. Here is our story.
A few months ago, I came into work and my Salt Lake City manager, Ashley, pulled me aside to talk privately. She recounted a phone call that she had received while closing the store recently. The caller was looking to buy a gift for his wife and, eager to help, Ashley threw herself into the challenge. However, it wasn’t long into their call that the caller started down a dark and perverted line of conversation. Ashley hung up the phone and felt, I am sure, confused, gross and violated. There was something in how he handled the phone call that made Ashley think may have been watching her from outside. No questions asked, my instincts immediately made me put more staff on our closing shifts. I quickly got word out to all the other businesses around us, and encouraged them to keep an eye out for anything unusual. My husband and I even made secret trips in the evening to watch my staff leave the stores. And of course we had the police in both locations (SLC and Bountiful) frequenting our stores on their patrol routes.
Unfortunately, all these efforts didn’t stop our perpetrator. He had already been calling different staff members at both locations and Ashley’s experience was just the newest on the list! I could not believe how these disgusting experiences were not being shared at the shop. I cannot tell you the heartache I experienced as I called each girl on my staff and asked them confidentially if a pervert had called them on shift. The reality of our situation is that my staff felt embarrassed about the phone calls and were struggling to understand what had happened to them. This realization was probably one of the saddest times I have had in my entire career at H&H.
Fast forward just a couple more days to one of Ryan’s secret night watches: he saw an unusual suspect sitting in a car watching the shop with a phone in his hand. Cops were called and the guy was taken into custody.
My message to my staff is the same message I would shout from any rooftop: “It is not your fault. Whatever you did or didn’t do is never a reason for a person to violate your space, your freedom, your mind or your body.” Violation of any of these private things is assault. I feel strongly that our experiences most definitely fall into the category of sexual assault.
So how do we do keep our girls safe, whether they be children, staff or friends? How do we teach our girls to fend for themselves? It is so difficult to anticipate every situation that could end in violation. But, through honesty and education, I think I have just figured part of that piece out. And thank you to Alyssa, our amazing self-defense teacher from Fearless Self-Defense, for planting this seed: TRUST YOUR INSTICTS! If something feels wrong or weird, it is! If your gut is trying to tell you something, listen.
There is truth to the concept of “Women’s Intuition.” Maybe the whole reason it exists is to help us protect ourselves from the perverts, the stalkers, the crazies and the abusers. Let’s build the confidence in our girls. Let’s teach them to listen to their hearts, their guts, and to make quick decisions based on their feelings of intuition. And finally, let’s defend them with some kung fu!!!!!
Thank you, thank you to my staff for being the amazing women you all are!!!!! I am grateful every day that I have women who care about my biz and I hope with every fiber of my soul that your experience at H&H is one leads you to be a FEARLESS, BADASS WOMAN!!!!