If you sent me an email last week, you likely got an away message.
That's because I was on an adventure, doing something that completely scared the daylights out of me.
I was at the Dallas Market Center, meeting my new sales rep team for the first time. Sales reps are people who are hired to help a company connect with retail stores within a certain region.
In this case, I've hired on a team that's specifically trained to help me get into stores in Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas, and New Mexico.
It was an amazing experience! I spent the week getting to know all of the sales reps on the team, training them about SmartyPits, and working together with them as we spoke to store owners about the possibility of carrying SmartyPits in their shops.
And while that experience—something totally new to me—was scary and exhilarating, one thing happened that stood out to me as more important and profound than all the rest.
It was meeting a woman named Buffy.
Buffy (who gave me permission to share her story) is a mother of three, an incredible part of the sales rep team, and is a woman living with Stage 4 breast cancer.
When I first talked to the team about SmartyPits, I felt immediately drawn to her. It wasn't until after my presentation that she came up and spoke to me about her cancer journey.
Just like my own mother, she had found the cancerous lump directly beneath her armpit. She had experienced multiple surgeries and treatment paths, both conventional and experimental.
She also explained to me that she had been hesitant to let her daughter use any sort of anti-perspirant, because she was horrified at the thought of exposing her child to the aluminum found in all anti-perspirants. After all, the way anti-perspirant works is that the aluminum gets absorbed into your skin and then swells, blocking sweat from exiting your body.
I actually held back tears as she told me about how she was so grateful that she now had a deodorant option for her family that she felt comfortable with: SmartyPits.
The tears did come later. This was my Facebook post that night:
All week, I felt a bond with Buffy. So it was even more incredible when SmartyPits was picked up by the MD Anderson Cancer Center Gift Shop, and I went in to tell Buffy the good news.
"That's amazing!" She exclaimed, looking excited. It turns out that MD Anderson was where she had some of her most intense life-extending treatment.
Buffy's story—and her incredible smile—is something I'm going to carry with me every day. After all, stories like hers (as well as my own mother's) are the reasons I am so committed to getting SmartyPits out into the world.
They are the reason I want to encourage as many people as possible to go aluminum-free.
And they are the reason I'm in talks with MD Anderson to contribute free deodorant to their upcoming Survivor's Conference.
As for Buffy, she was one of the last people I hugged as I left Dallas. The next time I'll be with my rep team will be at the January trade show—and I told her I couldn't wait to hug her again then.