In 1999, I spent a summer in New Orleans teaching drama to 12 year olds. I loved it. I stayed with a family in the West Bank and had the time of my life. I loved my students and made great local friends that I still keep in touch with today. In 2005, I met my now husband. I was working in New York City for the investment bank Merrill Lynch and he was in Los Angeles working on his first startup that allowed indie musicians to distribute their music to the online music stores like iTunes. After a year of a long distance relationship, he decided to come to back to New York. We packed up his car and decided to drive cross-country from LA. At the same time, a massive ice storm hit the middle of the country so we decided to cut through the southern states. I told Manoj that we had to stop in NOLA…I wanted him to see the city I loved. We planned to stay for a night and ended up staying a week. My husband loved every minute and kept on extending our hotel stay. Since then, New Orleans has been the only place we have come back to time after time. It was our place, a real home away from home. From 2006 to 2014, we visited the city of New Orleans 10 times. We spent holidays, long weekends and birthdays in the city. Our last trip was in January 2014, we brought my husband’s mother here to celebrate her 60th birthday.
In April of 2014, my husband and I quit our jobs and booked a 1-way ticket to Bangkok, Thailand. We decided to travel for a full year to decompress and immerse in new cultures. We wanted to see how the rest of the world lived and spent an incredible year traveling throughout the countries of Southeast Asia. The process of extended travel forced me to go far beyond my comfort zone (I have more experience with gnarly toilets than I care to remember). I learned to truly be present and allow time for myself to peel back the layers of distraction and stress in my previous life. I tapped into a new-found courage, became fiercely honest with myself and stopped listening to what other people envisioned as my path and purpose in life. I decided to pursue my passion, teaching combined with my love for fitness. With a lot of encouragement from my husband, I launched PartyGirlFit in Singapore. It was a great learning experience. The business was doing great, but we hit some roadblocks with employment visa issues. We couldn’t hire ourselves to manage our own business. Don’t ask…it’s a long and complicated story. So, as entrepreneurs do, we pivoted. I asked myself some hard questions about the next step for the company and our lives. Going back to New York seemed to be the easy and obvious choice, but for some reason, it didn’t feel quite right.
We had no idea where to go next. When my inner pressure cooker was screaming and my anxiety was at all time highs, my husband jumped up from his desk and said “Hey! There’s this awesome entrepreneurial conference in New Orleans called NOEW, we have to go!” That was it.
We arrived here a week ago from New Delhi and haven’t looked back. After my 5th day here, I know I have made the right decision. I know I’m home. I can’t thank the people who put the NOEW 2015 conference together enough and the team at the Idea Village. A special thanks goes out to Rhea Ghosh, Summer Suleiman, Richard Hébert, Victoria Adams and Tim Williamson (to name just a few). They have welcomed us with open arms, hugs, a lot of encouragement and invaluable introductions. So what’s the plan for PartyGirlFit? Well, we are going to be officially launching in May in the Big Easy! In the meantime, we are going to find a lovely place to live and meet as many friends as we can. My husband and I are still giddy after meeting Chef John Besh, Robby Vitrano of Naked Pizza, John Biggs of Tech Crunch, Mayor Mitch Landrieu, Omarosa Manigault and so many more inspiring people all committed to the entrepreneurs and bright future of New Orleans. New Orleans, we are so excited to call you home. Here we come!
Welcome home. PartyGirlFit Party Smart. Sweat Smarter.