They say business and friends don’t mix, but we beg to differ. This adventure – organically unfolding before our very eyes – could not happen any other way. We have fun. We laugh – a lot. We don’t take ourselves too seriously. We ask questions. We stick to our instincts. We look back – we look ahead. We work while sipping cocktails. We brainstorm while running. We text each other random business thoughts at 3 a.m. Honesty, authenticity and clear intention steer our ship. Our families keep us anchored to what’s most important. And our friends – they empower us to dream and imagine. During the spring of 2006, we crossed our first finish line together – a half marathon in Green Bay, Wisconsin. On that day, we were not planning to finish side by side, but we’ve come to realize that greater powers were at play. Fate and future dreams knew something we didn’t.
My friend – before everything.
At the core of what Fellow Flowers represents – friendship, connection and strength – is Tori. This company is born out of her selfless love to bring people together and her belief that women should celebrate and honor their journey – not just in running, but also in life.
Long before Fellow Flowers, I’ve had the wonderful privilege of being Tori’s friend. And this – in my humble view – is her true gift to the world. To feel her unconditional love, generosity and fierce loyalty is something I express gratitude for daily. She is a beautiful spirit. A gem. She reminds all of us – through her own story and challenges – that our health is a precious and fleeting gift not to be taken for granted. She smiles for a reason. She endures. She is a believer in hope – for herself, and for many others. And in my view, she is the truest story of how running can transform a life, a perspective, and a dream.
She lives the philosophy of Fellow Flowers daily – she is its heart and soul.
And, Tori has amazing style. I can’t tell you how many times she’s fixed my hair, applied my make-up or revamped my not-so-stellar outfit. So rest assured everyone, we’ll never have to worry about our FF gear not looking fabulous and perfect. I believe she was born to design, create and make women feel amazing – inside and out.
For most our friendship, I’ve known Tori as an amazing teacher, guidance counselor and high school basketball coach. Motivating and inspiring youth on a daily basis and coaching countless young women on working hard and setting goals. And now, I see her bringing those passions and skills to Fellow Flowers. Always gently pushing women to reach further, dig deeper and realize their true greatness. Tori is also the only person who can get me out of bed for a 5 a.m. run – must be the coach in her.
And while I consider myself truly lucky to be her friend, it’s her kiddos that get the best parts of her. Three amazing children that have been blessed with her most precious gifts. Lincoln, her oldest, cares deeply for the world around him and has her compassionate soul. Kyler has her smile – which gets him in trouble but not nearly as often as it makes you laugh and appreciate it. And then there is Addison – her beautiful little girl, and my sweet lil goddaughter. Happy, authentic and real – a force to be reckoned with. Just like her Mama.
For Tori’s professional bio, click here.
There are no chance meetings in life. I’m forever grateful for the childhood friendship of our husbands, which is essentially the reason behind Maryellen and I meeting. Thirteen years later, here we are.
Mel…my friend, my business partner.
Maryellen is well known in her hometown as a talented power forward on the basketball floor on both her high school and college teams. Our paths crossed when Mel had just made the tough decision to walk away from a promising collegiate future on the court. Even though she was playing a game where her natural talent and love were a perfect combination for success, she put her knees and the future health of her beat up body first. Against the wishes of many who had watched, coached, raised or played with her, she moved on with grace and courage, knowing it would be best for her in the long run. Everything happens how it’s supposed to. With rested and healthier knees, she was capable of becoming a runner six years ago. Although it was a hard decision to walk away back then, she had no idea of the eventual benefits for her future “long runs” and her destined career.
In the professional world, she’s strived to use her greatest strengths in the most desirable way. Since knowing her, she has successfully held various positions, using degrees in public relations, journalism and communications. They have all suited her well and those working with her have been truly blessed. Yet she never stopped searching, reaching, wondering, wanting, or dreaming for more. Every time we talked, she had a new idea. Not content to just “be” and not stopping until she found her place is something Fellow Flowers is damn lucky for. Her God given talent is writing -putting eloquent words to paper with ease. When you read them, they get to you, exactly where they are supposed to. With awe and amazement you feel and believe them.
Mel also has uncanny ability to take a thought and make it reality. She often says to me, “If you were inside my head right now, you would run.” I won’t run. I just let her do her thing. It’s at those moments that I know big stuff is going to happen, things are going to get done and they will be done well. Her fierce drive and intense desire to grow is something that this company will benefit from. Always.
Mel has an unconditional love for her friends and family. Her compassion, support, and belief in “loving you through it” are what make her presence in your life so inviting. She simply makes you feel better about being you.
A shopping expert at heart, I can attest to her knowing where the “good stores” are as she has accompanied me on my first timer experiences to Starbucks, Ann Taylor Loft, Lululemon and Hot Mama – just to name a few. If you want to shop, sip a cocktail or learn something about politics, Mel is your girl. A traditional rule follower, she can still be convinced to do just about anything fun and spontaneous.
As a mother, she glows. It’s a role that comes so easy for her. She guides her girls with her example, and they always feel how deeply they are loved. Alexis is her mini-me who can already debate and discuss both sides of any situation. She is kind, caring and has a beautiful heart. And Allison…oh, how I love that Maryellen has a lil’ Allison. Fiesty, fierce, determined and resilient. They couldn’t be more uniquely different – both wonderful and sweet girls.
Mel mentions that I’m the heart of Fellow Flowers. I sent the email. The fourteen women who took the journey are the core. Mel is its vision and its wings. We thank her for having the courage to make it fly.
For Mel’s professional bio, click here.