Updated: Aug 15
The three weeks that led up to me opening up the new location could have been indicators of what was to come. After finding the package, I tried to have someone “move” it for me to make money. I had lost my sobriety, and thought to keep a little for myself to help me work late at night doing renovations. These were two big lies that I told myself.
My frequency at the clubs and bars didn’t stop during those weeks, as I told myself that it was good for marketing. I did tell people I knew and those who were potential clients about my expansion and what I was working on. It never occurred to me that some people might not like what I was doing.
One of my closest friends at the time was an employee. She always had my back, would help me with tasks that I didn’t have time to do as well as the job I hired her for. I won’t name her and her family on this blog, but she was very instrumental in my success at the time, and she also had some connections I needed to help move the package of drugs I found. She would tell me stories of people she had conflict with and tell me things about them. She and her family supported me through everything.
That relationship was volatile at times, as we would argue over some of her duties in the shop and over some of the choices we made when we were not at work at the club or wherever we partied.
I trained her to do some hair techniques and encouraged her to assist me with some clients.
She hated that I made her blow dry the hair of a woman that she had drama with.
It all came to a head when we had a huge fight in the salon while having drinks after hours. It ended with us not talking for a very long time. My most trusted confidant was gone, and I thought it was for the best, although I felt betrayed, mistreated, and misunderstood.
I didn’t notice it at the time, but I had started to push away the people who would challenge my decisions as well as support me as a person. I was on the edge and holding on tight with my emotions and determination. I was hurt by the events that had taken place but turned to my skills in my business to be a focus point and a channel for the negative energy.
In my eyes, everything had to go as planned, I was not accepting anything else. I had two weeks before the grand opening of the new location, and I was going full speed ahead with six employees that were going with me to the new location.
My projected grand opening was September 1st. and two weeks before opening, the plumber that was scheduled to install piping for the sinks called to inform me that he would need to dig through four feet of concrete in order to install the drainage. The landlord would not allow that to happen, and a successful salon needs sinks.
One of the barbers informed me a week before moving that he was going to do his own thing with one of the other barbers, but he would support me until he left.
I had a scheduled change in my phone service from Verizon to AT&T for a better monthly rate, and the telephone technicians were having a hard time finding the lines at the new location. This was scary because most of my clientele called the salon ahead of time to book appointments. At the same time, the landlord of the apartment where I was living abruptly told me that I needed to move in two weeks because they needed the space for their in laws.
I argued with them because I knew this was illegal, but I was too busy with everything going on, so I just put my things in storage and decided to stay with a friend for what was to be a couple of weeks until things settled down.
On Tuesday, September 4th, I opened the salon. The renovations weren’t finished, the phones weren’t on, there were no shampoo sinks, none of the barbers showed up for work or answered my calls, and the stylist called in sick. I had a couple of clients while trying my best to finish the renovations in between making calls on the pay phone to AT&T and my missing clients. That week was all stress and mess as I tried to pull everything together. On Friday, two people showed up to work, and we had a successful weekend working together.
I had a glimmer of hope that things were going to work out, and I went out on Saturday night to celebrate. Saturday bled into Sunday and Monday as I hopped on the party train and came to a full stop on Monday night when I realised I had burned through more money than expected and started scrambling for ideas. I had a TV and some jewellery that I decided to take to the pawn shop to try and recover some money.
The next morning, as I stood in line at the pawn shop, holding a huge TV, there was news on the numerous televisions that a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center. Everyone was looking at the reports and talking about how terrible it was.
And then a second plane hit the towers.
The next few days were frightening and surreal. Most people kept their eyes on the sky as fears of other attacks loomed. I had additional fears of losing everything, that spurred my spiralling problems with drugs and alcohol.
If you made a phone call to NYC in the two weeks after the 9/11 attacks, you would get a busy signal. All lines were shut down. And I was frantically trying to reach the AT&T offices that were based there. I was not getting any business, and it was mainly due to not having any phones. One night at the bar, I had an idea to go into my old location and plug up a phone and see if my lines were still active there, and if so, I would forward the calls to a pager, where I could then return the calls via a pay phone. The plan worked, the next day, my pager was ringing constantly from customers trying to find the location.
Most people had a hard time finding the second floor entrance into the building, which turned out to be one of the major issues, which ironically I thought was a great feature.
My victory only lasted for 24 hours. The next day, AT&T began the transfer process, and the call forwarding ended. When I called AT&T to get information about the final installation, I got a busy signal. I was standing on Main Street with my head spinning and my mind perplexed. I was reeling, and I could not find any answers or any moves to make. I broke down and started sobbing uncontrollably. All of the things that led up to that point crashed over me like a wave of ice cold water, shocking and painful. I took some of the change I had in my pocket and called my aunt. As I cried, and tried to explain what was happening, she said to me.
Don’t let that business drive you crazy, it’s not worth it You are more than what that business is.
It was an awakening for sure, not the life changing type of awakening, but a situational awakening for sure.
I realised that I was holding on to an idea of what I wanted to happen, and it was pulling me apart. At that moment, I let go of my expectations and the results of all my efforts.
It wasn’t from a good place, it was more like a fuck it attitude, but nevertheless, things did begin to change for me.
I managed to pay rent for October, but not much else. The friend I was staying with gave me an ultimatum, and I took my things and started sleeping in my office at the salon. I would frequent the bar around the corner, so I thought it was convenient, and my drug use ramped up with that convenience. I had some clients , and a stylist still working with me, but I wasn’t making enough to sustain a business, and I was beginning to give up.
November was coming fast, and I knew I wasn’t going to make rent, so I went to the landlord to explain, and out of sympathy, they told me if I left by December 1st they would let me break the lease.
A few days later, a friend came and told me that they had spoken to the landlord of a location that I knew of. He said that if I could come up with ine month's rent he would let me move my business there. I had previously thought myself too good for this location, but the circumstances had humbled me.
One of the barbers who used to work with me agreed to help me move to that location so that I could get a new start.
He told me take care of myself and my business and stop screwing around...
I never got a professional phone installation. One late night, while drinking and partying, I searched out the phone lines in the building, tracked down the lines that belonged to my unit, and did my own telephone line installation. It was a crazy night, but I finally had phones and communication with my customers. I began talking with AT&T's customer service and filed a grievance with the upper management, which produced a check for $4,500 for lost of service and neglect of installation.
This was the seed money I would use to move.
I gave the new landlord $3,500 to move in. I used the rest of the money to move, do some minor renovations, and, of course, have my version of a celebration.
The new landlord gave me a four week grace period, which allowed me eight weeks before I would need to pay rent again.
I found some building supplies in the basement and used them to help set up the shop. I got my phones transferred right away and began to make appointments.
Within two short weeks, my shop was full of customers, including barbers and hairstylists looking for a place to work. It was like the previous three months had never happened. I'd like to say that the humility that developed from those previous months stayed with me, but the money, fast growth, and partying overshadowed all the blessings.
I had fallen, but I hadn't hit the bottom.