When I was young, I always envisaged that I would achieve something great. I believed that the magic in this world happens when you colour outside the lines – so that’s what I was determined to do.
Alex Tempany recently attended Virgin Unite's Business Chicks Leadership Gathering on Necker Island and below she shares her story from the island - and how the experience led her to change her career path and channel her passion towards helping women in need.
I spent my 20’s living abroad, seeing the world and running wildly off the path of convention. Then age has a way of making us colour within the lines. It wasn’t that the goal or the aspiration had gone, but after a while you reflect on what you’re up to and realise that the 'break all the rules' streak has been replaced with a desire to progress your career, and hop on the property ladder.
Then in July last year, the opportunity arose to attend a Leadership Gathering on Necker Island, hosted by the formidable partnership of Virgin Unite and Business Chicks. I was working full time, with a side hustle of making jewelry and preparing for my upcoming wedding. It wasn’t the “right time” for me to go, but that young girl within implored me again to get off the path of convention.
Attending the gathering was indeed an unconventional experience – and some of the most pivotal days of my life. It was a diverse collective of speakers, attendees, staff and locals – each person there was committed to challenging each other and themselves. It was a shared experience of different viewpoints, inspiring stories, uncomfortable emotions, and of course, an insane amount of fun.
Everyone has a valuable story to tell and I learned significant life lessons from every individual in our collective. The experiences with local entrepreneurs taught me that every human being can create a positive impact through commercial ideas. A local staff member, Debbie, taught me the true meaning of ‘united we stand, divided we fall’ – and hearing the words of Richard Branson I was reminded that ‘fear is a challenge to be overcome’.
Few of the stories, however, were more significant than those of local survivors of domestic violence. These women’s stories were not defined by tragedy – they were of bravery, of positivity and of sheer resilience. They left us on the edge of our seats and with a fierce desire to do more. Following this, we committed to helping them toward their biggest need, building a shelter to provide a place of refuge.
I left the gathering with my heart full and my bravery heightened, the young girl in me roaring back to life.
This project is being facilitated by The Family Support Network (FSN), located in the British Virgin Islands, they are a non-profit NGO working with individuals, couples and families affected by domestic violence. Their admirable vision is to reduce, and ultimately eradicate domestic violence in the region. I left the gathering with my heart full and my bravery heightened, the young girl in me roaring back to life.
A lengthy stopover on the way home gave me the opportunity to think long and hard about my life and reflect on the words of Emma Isaacs – ‘How can you show up in a bigger way in the world?’. It was there in Dallas airport that I designed ‘The Pineapples’ – a range of jewelry which is bold in design and bold in purpose – with every piece contributing $50 toward to the build of this shelter.
I set myself (an admittedly daunting) goal to raise $7,500 for the FSN. To do this project justice, it needed a bigger commitment than the three hours a week I devoted to jewellery. ‘Convention’ had quietened that inner girl and discouraged me from pursuing my dream of building this business in earnest but knowing that I could impact meaningful change through the fundraising, coupled with the inspiration of the gathering, I resigned from my job the following week.
I’ve now been working full time on my jewelry business for six months and I’ve sold over 50 pieces of The Pineapples – a third of the way to my (now slightly less daunting) goal.
The range is now stocked on Necker Island and I’m so proud that I’m supporting this group of survivors through doing what I love. It is with thanks to Virgin Unite and Business Chicks for fostering an environment for me to harness the courage and belief in myself to build a business that celebrates the value in everybody’s story. 'The Pineapples’ has given me a voice and a platform to effect change and the recipients of the fundraising will be a step closer to ensuring their story is a positive one. Please check out The Pineapples at www.alextempany.com and help me share the story of these brave women.
- This is a guest blog and may not represent the views of Virgin.com. Please see virgin.com/terms for more details.