January 19, 2010

Positively Successful

Cheryl Nordyke and Kim Weirman in their home-based office.

Union Leader Correspondent
DERRY – If you believe in the power of positive thinking, as Cheryl Nordyke and Kim Weirman do, then you will understand why they are poised for the big splash they are about to make.
     How do they know they are about to make a big splash, you ask?
     At the risk of mixing motivational maven metaphors, when your “A-ha moment” brings you within two degrees of separation from Oprah, it's a good thing.
     Mind you, they haven't met Winfrey – yet. And they aren't specifically featured in February's O Magazine. 
     But as readers page through the current issue, they will see a feature about Connecticut entrepreneur and cancer survivor, Mary Ann Wasil Nilan, whose own inspirational story led to a breast cancer awareness campaign targeting younger girls, which earned her an Oprah Magazine CoverGirl Giving Beautiful Back Award.
     And anyone who visits Nilan's site, www.getintouchfoundation.org, will see the link to Waves of Gratitude, the company founded by Nordyke and Weirman. It's a fledgling business featuring inspirational jewelry and apparel. They have partnered with Nilan, donating a percentage of their sales to her cause.
      Getting to this moment – operating a web-based business focused on giving thanks and giving back – has been a journey they believe has everything to do with following Oprah's lead. It started when Nordyke read  
“The Secret,” a book heavily promoted by Winfrey, that reduces the secrets of the universe down to simplest form, “Ask. Believe. Receive.”
     She continued to learn about manifesting one's desire and choosing positive energy over negative in all situations.
     Three years ago they were co-workers at a software company. As fate would have it, within a short span they became a couple of out-of-work moms who quickly thanked the universe for the chance at reinvention instead of cursing the unemployment gods.
     Three weeks after Weirman lost her job, her husband died.
     “I look at it now as a blessing – we had a great three weeks together, with both of us home,” said Weirman. Her husband had been ill, but it was a managed illness. His sudden death was a shock, leaving her with a broken heart, limited income and insurance benefits and three sons to raise on her own.
     After Nordyke lost her job, it took her a while to realize she hadn't personally failed; rather she had been betrayed by the corporate model of success she had spent her whole career following blindly. To reinforce her epiphany, she had the urge to create a piece of jewelry that would keep her motivated, keeping her focused on the good things in her life, rather than the negative.
     That one idea led the two women to hatch a business plan, selling elegant sterling silver jewelry that could inspire others to maintain that “attitude of gratitude,” even in tough times.
     They connected with established jewelry designer Jessica Fields, whose work is featured in upscale department stores and fashion shoots, resulting in two inspirational designs – Branches of Hope, which represents the strength and resilience of the cypress tree, and Waves of Gratitude, a series of ocean wave designs symbolizing the infinite power of counting one's blessings.
     “Women fail to recognize that beauty and strength that comes from within. Our line is meant to be symbolic of that,” Nordyke said.
     Today, they are banking on the belief that promoting gratitude – and an Oprah connection – will bring them the kind of success they have been visualizing. On paper. Every day.
     “We have a success board,” said Weirman, referring to one of the many tools of the universe they have utilized, advice gained through the network of power of positivity self-help books, like “The Secret,” that amount to a philosophical trend bordering on religion, with Winfrey at the spiritual helm.
     After a promising launch, the women realized there was more to running a Internet-based jewelry business than having a good idea and beautiful product. They spent a year looking far and wide for an investor. Three months ago, an angel investor from right within their inner circle emerged, who was able to boost their bottom line and re-energize their efforts.
     Now they are fearlessly moving forward, their own branches of hope hanging heavy with optimism,
and the rushing waves of gratitude they feel, for all their many blessings, overwhelms them.
     They have also committed to putting their gratitude into words, each of them contributing a blog post a day this year on their Web site. Some begin with inspirational quotes. Others feature photos and personal reflections. All of it is meant to reinforce that they are committed to meeting the everyday challenges of life with positivity, come what may.
     “When I lost my job I was debt free. I had $150,000 in savings and took a vacation every year with my daughter. Now, I have an investor, I haven't earned a paycheck, my 401K is gone, and I don't care,” said Nordyke.
     “What I've gained is beyond measure. I have more time now with my daughter. I am supporting women with cancer. I'm taking something I believe in, and sharing that idea, of strength and hope, of gratitude and giving. It becomes a ripple effect. And to think that we can be a part of that, helping others to have hope, and an attitude of gratitude, is the best feeling in the world,” said Nordyke.

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