The story of Fellow Flowers is built on friendship. Mel and Tori were and are friends first and foremost. This focus on friendship and the spirit that we are all fiercely united is at the core of what Fellow Flowers is all about. It’s also the reason we decided our second virtual run would focus on friendship which is how the Fiercely United Virtual Run, taking place August 29,2015, was born.
Here is the story of Mel and Tori’s friendship which not only inspired our next virtual run but the birth of Fellow Flowers itself!
How did you both meet?
Before we were business partners, we were friends. And before we were runners, we were friends. Everything for us started with just truly enjoying each other’s presence, connection and spirit. We had very different professional backgrounds (Mel was in marketing and Tori was in education) so we rarely talked ‘business’ and more so dreams, fun and adventure. Our husbands are actually the ones who’ve known each other the longest – they are lifelong friends, and we met each other while dating them in college. (They like to take credit for that too, btw.) Over time, we became closer. Tori stood in Mel’s wedding, and Mel is the godmother of Tori’s daughter.
How did your friendship grow?
Here’s the awesome part. Mel moved to Madison and suddenly we found ourselves with many miles between us. So can you guess what brought us together and fiercely united us, despite the distance? RUNNING! We were training for the same half marathon, and despite not being in the same location, we connected and kept in touch. On race day, we ended up running the entire race together and crossing the finish line hand in hand.
From there, our social circles kept us in touch but it was always running that brought us together. When Tori asked Mel to join her for the half marathon that celebrated her birthday (this was in 2011) it was absolutely the journey that solidified our friendship. This was also the seed that planted Fellow Flowers – fourteen women training together and the race where we wore our very first flowers. A few months later when Mel had the realization that this experience could become a business, she knew that Tori would be the only person who would fully get it AND be willing to go on the adventure with her. It took about 15 seconds to convince her that we should go for it. Our diverse backgrounds have been our best asset. We both bring different skills and perspectives to our work, and it always results in the best products and experiences possible for our women.
And yes, we really do like each other 🙂 While one might think going into business with your friend would jeopardize the relationship, it has actually strengthened it. We have very similar values, which makes it easy to prioritize our schedules. Family comes first, personal days are necessary and when we need to buckle down and work, we hold each other accountable and get it done.
The hardest part is actually ensuring we carve out time to just be friends and let go of the business side of things. We have to ‘check out’ of business mode often just to ask each other, ‘Hey, how are you doing?’
When we were writing the message behind the orange flower and really thinking hard about what it meant to us, these two words came to us easily.
It’s one thing to be united as friends and women, but it’s a whole other level when you do it fiercely. The word fiercely adds the grit, the meaning and the magic. It means we fight for inclusion, positivity and celebration. It means you fiercely hold the space for women to step in, share without judgement and let them know they matter. It’s a mentality and way of being.
If you look at the makeup of our community, we have every age, race, experience level and demographic, and we think it’s because our criteria for becoming a Fellow Flower is the universal core desire of every woman: To support, and be supported. To accept others, and ultimately, accept yourself. To honor, share and celebrate who we are as women and let our stories unite us instead of divide us.
There’s just something that training with other women does for a relationship. The experience connects you Fiercely. Sure, your relationship can and may change afterward, but you’ll always cherish that moment that you had together.
Why is honoring friendship so important?
We have our own friendship, friendship circles that we share and friendships that are completely separate. They change and evolve over time, but anyone who knows us well would say that we both hold friendship very high on our priority list. We show up for each other and those in our lives a lot. We say yes if we can make it, we’ll give up sleep to make time for it. We value intimate, fun and easy connection between women.
We’re also very big on honoring and acknowledging the women in our lives and letting them know they matter. We’ve realized it’s great to have women in our lives when crap hits the fan and things fall apart, but we’ve both worked really hard to surround ourselves with women who are there to celebrate when things go RIGHT. Super important.
Why is the Fiercely United Virtual Run so important and why should women participate?
I’m not sure we’ve ever planned something that has felt so right. Of course we’re going to celebrate friendship and amazing women in this way. This virtual run was created to support a fiercely united sisterhood of women. It feels less like work and more like a celebration – of ourselves and this amazing community.
How freaking cool will it be on August 29th, to have women all around the country and world, clip in a flower and run together? Miles apart or in stride. We ARE Fiercely United. Even better? A proceeds from every registration will go to the Fellow Flowers Scholarship Fund to help create opportunities for deserving women who need it most. We really hope you will join us!
Why is friendship important to you? Share with us in the comments!
P.S. Do you have a friendship story we should feature? If so, email rachael (at) mixandshine (dot) com.