It’s human nature to seek out comfortable grooves and settle into them. Routines, schedules, relationships, habits (even unhealthy ones) tend to stick to us and can be difficult to alter. Most people resist upsetting the delicate balance of things, especially if there’s nothing wrong with the status quo.
Suffice it to say, change can be frightening.
Everything had been flowing along pretty smoothly at Richardson Media Group’s Amesbury office late in 2017 when the universe decided to throw us a big curve ball. This unexpected development actually arrived at our doorstep in the form of a new friend and collaborator, a bright and interesting woman named Mariah Morgan, founder of Stout Heart, a branding and web development firm in Portsmouth, NH.
Mariah and I first met through some mutual marketing friends who attended Creative Mornings in Portsmouth each month. My Operations Manager, Erica, whose many talents include being a skilled connector of people, had suggested Creative Mornings as a way to expand our network outside of the Merrimack Valley and into the Seacoast NH community where we saw potential for new business.
My initial introduction to Mariah led to coffee, which led to another coffee (yes, caffeine factored heavily into those early meetings), and eventually, a longer sit-down during which we began to open up about our personal stories of female entrepreneurship, and our perpetual and seemingly endless pursuit of that elusive balance between nurturing our families and ourselves while managing a business. Despite the fact that I have two college age children and Mariah’s son is still a toddler, we found common ground across the spectrum in almost everything we discussed. It became evident that we enjoyed similar philosophies on life and that our companies were naturally compatible.
I knew that Mariah was looking around for new office space but I didn’t give it much thought. I was safely ensconced in a small but tidy office situated in a renovated old mill building in Amesbury’s historic Lower Millyard, just a 5-minute drive from my house. I hadn’t been feeling particularly connected to my local business community of late, but I made up for it, or at least I told myself it didn’t much matter, because I had established some fruitful agency partnerships elsewhere. I visited these other firms on a regular basis, which satisfied my desire for professional collegiality as well as providing my company access to interesting collaborative projects. Then one day, my phone pinged.
It was Mariah asking me if I wanted to join her on some real estate appointments around Portsmouth. Sure, I said, why not? It was a chance to spend the afternoon with someone I enjoyed while giving her some “big sister” feedback on her next move. Little did I know I’d become a factor in the equation! We ended up going on three or four visits in and around the city over the next few months, but nothing really resonated with either of us. At that point, we hadn’t formally broached the topic about sharing a space. It wasn’t until we found ourselves on the third floor of 59 Bow Street, watching the tugboats outside the windows that the conversation got more serious and doors literally and figuratively began to open.
Flash forward several months and we are settled into our new space. Richardson Media Group and Stout Heart have taken up residence above the River House restaurant, in a strip of 18th century brick buildings poised along the water in Portsmouth. Turned out moving from Amesbury was far less painful than I had imagined. In fact, once I finally got over my trepidation, my concerns about costs, logistics, distance from home and most importantly, whether we’d be embraced by our new community (we have!) and finally let myself accept Mariah's gracious offer to become neighbors, everything happened pretty quickly.
We’ve seen immediate and undeniable evidence that this is where we belong. Not only are we busy, actually thriving, we're finding reserves of creative energy and feeling increaingly engaged with the Portsmouth community. The other night, Erica participated in Long Story Short, a storytelling event held on the 3S Artspace stage. Recently, I joined a panel of female entrepreneurs for a Portsmouth Chamber presentation called Enterprising Women.
Change may be scary but it's essential to growth. We’re grateful to our Stouthearted friends and will do all we can to make the most of this incredible opportunity.
We have found our home.