It’s been a whirlwind week in Washington, DC for Small Business Week. I won Best Businessperson of the Year for Washington State (click here to see that blog post). If you had told me a year ago that I would have traveled across the country, three weeks postpartum with a newborn, I would have told you that you had clearly taken a train to Crazytown. But life has a funny way of surprising each of us, including me.
Every single President since Kennedy has met with the winners of Small Business Week. So when the opportunity came up to go to DC and meet the President of the United States, well, Crazytown, here I come! I was positively giddy that meeting the President might be ticked off my ‘bucket list.’ So, my supportive husband and I made elaborate plans to come to Washington DC, with a newborn, to participate in Small Business Week. But really, it was all about Obama for me!
The trip to the White House did happen and Jamisen was pre-cleared through security, even without a social security number but alas, the President did not appear. Despite sending high ranking officials who assured us that we “had no better friend than the President,” this President chose to not meet with the “drivers of the Nation’s economy.” That ended up being par for the course for elected officials as not one single Congresssperson deigned to show up at the Congressional Reception, held at the Senate Building. It was a clear indicator that DC is a lot of lip service when it comes to small business. The top entrepreneurs in the entire country were at their doorstep and they literally could not be bothered to walk the few steps to the reception. It was quite the snub to all the award winners who put their lives and businesses on hold to spend the week in DC.
Despite that disappointment, Chris and I put our normal optimistic happy faces on and made the best of the week, meeting other awesome entrepreneurs and taking in the sights. Washington DC is steeped in history and we were able to take in the Mall with all the monuments twice. We are certain Jamisen will be very thankful for the memories we made on his behalf.
The highlight of the week turned out to be a visit to the Google offices. They are bright, happy, fun and cheerful and man oh man, you should see their kitchen! There was so much yummy, awesome, healthy food in there (swoon). I want to be Google when I grow up or at least have their kitchen. Google was so excited about the Small Business Week winners that they gave us all their unreleased Chrome books. I’ll do another separate review of the awesome, generous gift but for now, just know that I heart Google. And I’m using their new +1 service and it’s pretty cool.
All the State winners; that’s me, in the bright yellow dress, on the left.
And a fuzzy photo of me accepting my award from Administrator Mills of the SBA. I’ll have better, non-phone, photos to share when we get home.
I was so lucky that my sweet husband took time off of his work to be the World’s Best Baby Carrier and general support. He and Jamisen got to bond, alot, because Chris never put him down. =)
For the final night of SBA Small Business Week, there was a fantastic black tie gala. Lil Man got dressed up for the occasion too, complete with a bow tie. Unfortunately, because of the feeding needs of small children, we didn’t get to stay for the dancing but it was fun to get dressed up and bring the cutest accessory in the entire place.
After living in a hotel with a newborn this week, both Chris and I are really looking forward to getting back Washington state and to our comfy baby’fied home. We’re both just a little tired (ha ha – make that bone weary zombified tired) but also thrilled about the memories we were able to make as a family. Jamisen might not remember them but we’ll always have this blog post for proof.
I’m bummed for you for not meeting the president, but I’m proud of you for your accomplishment and am glad that Chris got to bond so much with the baby! And I’m glad we got to see so many photos of the Jamisen! 🙂
Jan Pace says
Well I wrote the Prez. That is past ridiculous!
No, No, No..don’t write the President. The Secret Service will show up at your door, take your award away… and they won’t be taking you to see the President then either. I live 20 miles outside of DC. It is a wonderful place to tour. I’m so glad you had a nice time, long drive, but a nice time.
Amy Warden says
What a great trip you’ve had!! What a bummer to get snubbed by the Pres. though. Jamisen is getting cuter every day! Hope you get some much needed rest.
Congratulations! (OMG he’s adorable!) You are so much braver than I was after my babies. I hope you are taking it easy and enjoying that little man. 😉
Amanda G says
What an opportunity! And what a disappointment. But…it looks like you made the best of it and made a wonderful memory to share with Jamison down the road. LOVE the dress! Kudos to Chris for being such a supportive husband. (That makes all the difference in the world!)
Congrats on your success! 🙂
Cindy Jones says
congratulations A-M. I feel like you represent all of us- thanks for taking on that role.
What a tremendous honor to be selected and sent to DC. Congrats!!
Donna Maria Coles Johnson says
Congratulations, A-M, and thanks for sharing the pictures. I love the baby clothes with the little ties. So sweet. You look fabulous, and I’m thrilled to see you win this award. I’m glad you had a chance to tour my hometown — it is beautiful. My guess is that the weather was great too; nice stroll for a baby around the Mall.
I too am disappointed that neither the President not anyone from either side of the Congressional aisle showed up. It would have been a wonderful treat to meet a sitting president, but I’m sure you’ll have other opportunities.
PS – in case you want to share, the lady in the “fuzzy” photo with you and Ms. Mills is Marie C. Johns, former candidate for Mayor of Washington, DC, the current Deputy Administrator of the SBA, and a professional colleague from back in my official attorney days. We were rivals back then, but got a chance to rekindle on a positive note when I was at SBA late last year. She’s a nice ally.
I sooooo love the baby clothes too – all Etsy. He is adorable. =) Adorable! =))))
I really enjoyed DC and the weather was fantastic, except for 1 afternoon of rain (ironically when we were waiting outside for the White House) and I loved the entire week with my family.
So cool that you know Ms. Johns. That makes you practically a celebrity in my book!
SOO proud of you…you deserve it!
I have never made soap in my life, I have everything I need to make it but just don’t have the time…right now. I have made your lip gloss and give it away to my patients in the office, they love it!
I am a wife, mom of 2 boys and a 3rd on the way, I am a small business owner and I love what you do for your clients and how you communicate with them. Even though I am not in your business you help me as well and I am grateful.
When I began reading your post, I was disappointed that you were excited to meet Obama. As a small business owner I have received no support from his administration but have seen my payroll taxes increase as well as regulations that cost me more money to run my business, the economy continues to deteriorate as he is pledging to give more money to Arab countries while families here are struggling to feed their kids because parents don’t have jobs.
As I continued reading your post I saw that we share the same feelings, you are right the current administration and many in congress could care less about those of us who work 12 hour days to keep the economy going. I do pray that by the time this administration is gone the country is not completely broke.
Again, congrats. I think you are pretty awesome lady.
Don’t forget to take Jamisen to a pediatric dentist when he turns 1 years old.
Thanks for your note and congrats on your 3rd baby on the way. You are a better woman than I. We only want 2! =))
For me, meeting the President was about the position, the office, and less about the person (though I have to admit that Obama seems very charismatic). It literally is a bucket list thing – along with finish a half marathon. =)
Yes, Pediatric Dentist. 1 year. Rodger that. We have an amazing Pediatrician who will hopefully help me keep me on the straight and narrow.
Chuck Blakeman says
Great post and not at all surprising that you got snubbed by every politician. The entire Small Business concept in Washington is kabuki theater – their is zero commitment to small business there.
And frankly, the SBA is at the heart of the problem. Last week was all kabuki theater. Until the SBA embraces a reasonable definition of “small”, all claims that they help small businesses simply cannot be believed.
The SBA defines “small” as “less than 500 employees”. This includes 28 million out of 28.1 million businesses in the U.S. (only 18,000 do not qualify), a constituency so broad as to be meaningless. It’s no different than defining all people under seven feet tall as “short”. It is 99.93% of all businesses in America.
Why so broad a definition?
So politicians, giant banks, and even the SBA can continue to claim they are focused on helping small businesses while totally focused on larger companies with more political donor power.
The SBA’s Size Standards white paper says it is “utterly impossible” to define the size of small business, then they go ahead and do it at 500 employees. The European Union has universally defined it at 50, and “Micro” businesses at 10. in 2009 Australia passed the Fair Trade Act defining small business as less than 15 employees.
Apparently it’s not impossible, but it is definitely inconvenient for those like the SBA, big banks and big government who regularly trot out companies of 50-500 employees and claim they are helping “small” business.
The media needs to stop allowing the SBA, politicians and banks to simply feed them unproven claims of small business support without requiring that they first define the size of companies they see as “small”. Until we have full disclosure on what size companies actually got the help, these claims should fall on deaf ears.
Big is not small and the SBA has a responsibility to stop making claims without a meaningful definition.
See my blog on the ongoing campaign led by the SBA to increase the already absurd size standards here http://chuckb.me/xuH
Thank you for popping in – and I agree. The definition of ‘small’ isn’t all that small and it’s always surprised me as well.
I’ll definitely check out your blog – and you can bet I’m going to be writing some respectful but unhappy letters to my congresspeople.
Anne-Marie: Congratulations again on the award! I, too, am disappointed about how the President and Congress-people ignored your powerful group. Google was smart enough to recognize your power. Good for them! I am glad that you made the most of it and took in many sights in Washington, DC and networked. DC is one of my favorite places to visit. I’m also proud of how you managed everything so Jamisen would make the trip. I can tell that Chris is just crazy about that little boy!
I’m happy for you on all fronts. Can’t wait to meet you in a few weeks at Soap Intensive Weekend.
Google was so generous and kind to us. We’re totally all into Google right now and trying to figure out how to use their Google products for more things in our business. =) And yes, Daddy is definitely crazy excited about our little boy (as am I). It’s really a fun stage in our marriage as our son brings a new dimension into our lives.
Shea Mama Naturals says
wonderful. very happy for you
Thank you. We are SO in love with our lil man.
ahhh that sucks! I was looking forward to you meeting him if that counts!
It would have been a once in a lifetime for sure … even if you don’t agree with his politics =)
Dawn Jones says
It is too bad that our President didn’t bother to show, but you were right when you said that you had the best accessory there! Thanks for sharing and Congratulations to you! Dawn
He he – and you can’t buy fashion accessories like that. LOL! =)
Tricia F. says
Your accomplishments cannot be dimmed by an absent President. I am sooo disappointed that the back-bone of our American economy was snubbed!! Did some research, and it seems our former President made a point to speak at this very important event. Just sayin…..
Tricia, You are VERY right – President Bush even came to some of the events. I’m even more disappointed in our Congresspeople though – we were literally in their building at the end of their workday and nada. But such is life – focusing on the positive, the other winners were such a fun, happy group of inspiration for me to hang out with so that was a definite plus.
Vincent Keele says
Congratulations, great job
Thank you Vincent. It’s all my team – they rock!
Kelly Ann Taylor says
and did I mention that
Jamisen has MAN HANDS?
I think he will be a big puppy!
If judging by the size of his paws!
I hadn’t even noticed! =) I’m so delighted by his adorable little face. He’s getting a double chin! =)
Kelly Ann Taylor says
We are just SO proud of you, and
just SO happy to know you!
So just plain adoring Chris for his
wonderful by your side attitude!
Shame on Congress.
But don’t get me started.
You all deserve tremendous honor for all your
accomplishments; thankfully you have your colleagues and peeps to cheer you on!
I am also upset with President Obama earlier this
week telling Isreal that “The United States” “believes” that Isreal should retrofit their borders
back to 1967……That was a blatant lie and not
representing the people of The United States at all.
You shined; love that Yellow Dress!
It’s so just Who You ARE!!!!
I agree – so amazing of Chris for taking time out of his business to come support me and our son. I am so lucky to have such a caring, loving partner.
Yes, I agree re: Congress and “Don’t get me started.” Hurumph. =)
Glad you liked the dress. I was thrilled to be the only person in yellow.
Wow! You are amazing, girl. I’m so glad you went…but I’m also quite disappointed in the lack of turn out for elected officials. Quite ridiculous, if you ask me. Nonetheless…what great memories you made. Rest up!
Yeah, I thought it was pretty ridiculous as well but just tried to keep a super positive attitude. With the help of my awesome husband, it was a lot easier because he is just a very even keeled rock of a man. =) Plus, with Jamisen being so cute, it definitely helped keep a super good mindset too.
Marion Catalano says
You look great for giving birth to a baby 3 weeks ago.I gained 60 pounds and looked like it for a while, I just ate way to much…and yes traveling with a newborn is very courageous…I couldn’t even go to the store,,,he was a big screamer.
I got angry at first ,too,how ignorant the politicians were behaving towards the event…
but than it shows, that you can’t rely on them and just do your thing…I believe what made this country successful are the people like you, small business owner…and Google suppose to be the best company to work for…I want to see that kitchen 🙂
I agree – that’s a fantastic take away – you can’t depend on anyone else except you to get the job done, so get out there, roll up your sleeves and do it! =)
Our little man is doing a lot better, thanks to SQ readers’ helpful suggestions on how to help him with his gas, but his first couple of weeks were an exercise in a lot of screaming. But he’s settling down now. If we could only get him to sleep more than 10-12 hours in a 24 hour cycle, we’d be doing great! Newborns are supposed to sleep 16 or so and he’s just not and I worry about his chronic sleep deprivation. =)
Thanks for being a reader – and for commenting. =)
My youngest has never slept much- to my dismay. My oldest slept like a champ. Babies are like life. You can plan as much as possible, but it is always a surprise!
It is funny you mention baby #2 already. Ours are 14 months apart. Pregnant while nursing isn’t so bad when it is all that you know. 🙂 I wouldn’t change a thing.
You look amazing (you are pretty amazing, too)!
Linda Bond says
I know that I have not told you before, but I want to tell you now that I have been a customer of yours since 2004 and I am a huge fan of yours. You have created the best company in the world! You are an amazing woman. Thank you for sharing your life with all of us soapers. I am finally starting my own soap business and your helpful posts are fantastic, not to mention Soap Queen TV which I love. As far as Obama and your Washington, DC trip, I would love you to keep us informed. I am really put off that he and “they” didn’t pay more attention to Small Business week. I am really for small business and farming so I like to stay informed. Thank you so much, Congratulations, and wish you much happiness with your little guy!
Thank you Linda. And thank you for being a customer for so long – that’s a huge compliment. I’m delighted that you are working on your own business now. If you haven’t read the book ‘The Success Principles’ by Jack Canfield, I consider it a great Business 101 read for getting your mindset right. Ditto ‘7 Habits of Highly Effective People’ – both are must reads for any new business IMO. =)
Linda Bond says
Thank you, I will get those books. And your inspiration is contagious. I think it is because you love what you do and it shows! Please do not let this go with our President because I intend to write a letter or make a call as well. I am also a small organic farmer and hope to help our Farmer’s Markets and the other small farmers and crafters to be encouraged to create their own small businesses. I, too, expect to see more from our President as this is very important to me.
Many congrats to you and your business! And I love Jamisen. What a cute baby in his shirt with the tie! When he is older he will be running for president 🙂
Exactly – with his first trip to the White House coming so early, he easily could. And really, doesn’t Jamisen Louis Renoud just sound positively presidential? LOL!
Peter Chee says
Thanks for sharing! Im so proud of you for so many reasons. I know what it takes to travel with babies and I know how hard it is to run a small company. You are one in million, an amazing person and an inspiration!
Thank you Peter. Yes, traveling with our little one has been an exercise in military precision but we’re making crazy, fun, zany family memories and we’ll look back at this and smile and laugh. Jamisen has his own suitcase! We even brought his white noise maker with us (ha ha) =)
Stephanie Bismuth says
Baby Jamisen is just so adorable with you two and I love his very well picked up outfits!
Where will you be next year? 🙂
Hopefully at the Soap Guild Conference! I missed it this year and it was such a bummer to miss it and all the networking. =) Glad that you like his outfits – I worked hard on them.
Lisa McShane says
You look beautiful and I especially love the photo of the 3 of you at the mall. What a happy family!
It’s disappointing that the President wasn’t able to attend and shocking that no Congresspeople did. The combination of all that makes me wonder about the skill of the organizers. A lot of that comes down to behind the scenes work among event and legislative staff and sometimes you have to pull strings and play hard to get the right people there…
So proud of you!
That is a good question – it’s the same team that put on last year’s SBA Small Biz Week (I asked about that too) – but you never know what might have happened in a year. Maybe the SBA fell out of favor this year or something.
The President, I was bummed because he literally left the building to go to the State Dept a few blocks away while we were there, but I ‘get’ that. I mean, he’s the President. He was changing Middle East Policy this week but I agree, the Congresspeople? Shameful. None of them … tsk tsk.
Either way, super duper fun to spend the week with my two men and make new good memories.
Stephanie Fox says
How exciting! you look fantastic and so happy! Congratulations on the award! It is very much deserved.
Very happy – Mommyhood is agreeing with me (and my husband) for sure =)
Maria Kahrs says
Well, isn’t that something. You would think after touting how important small business is to the economy someone would show up.
Yeah, the irony of that was not lost on me either. But you know the saying: actions speak louder than words =) Either way, it was quite an experience to share with my husband and our new son.
Congratulations to you!! Beautiful story and you look fab!! 🙂
Thank you! 7 more pounds to go to pre-baby weight … and then, since we want two, it’ll be time to do it all again. Ha ha =)
Margo Log says
Glad you had such a good time, and what a well dressed young man Jamisen was. Thanks for sharing your trip with us.
He had more outfit changes than I did! Then again, when you’re spitting up on 5 outfits a day … you sort of need more. I’ve outgrown my spitting up days. =)
You are such a good person turning that disappointment into a fantastic time with your family. No excuse for their behavior. You have so much to be proud of. Congratulations!
Michelle in NV
Thanks Michelle. I agree, no excuse – esp the Congresspeople – but whether I was happy about it or let it ruin my week, the situation was exactly the same so hubsters and I chose to be happy about it and get the most out of DC that we could. Since he hadn’t been there since Middle School, it was a treat for him to see all the monuments. =)
Congrats! I’m very happy for you! I definitely love Brambleberry and you have always had great customer service. Something that many of these big businesses lack these days. You’ll always have a satisfied customer here in Kentucky! Thank you!!!
Thank you K. We are so lucky to do something that we love with people that inspire us that keeping to our goal of fanatical customer service is definitely *the* top priority for us. =)) Thank you for being a customer.
Heather Reuble says
You look lovely and radiant, and congrats on your achievements- and becoming a mother! As always, I am so inspired by you! Much love.
Thanks Heather! It’s fun keeping up with you on FB but we’d love to host you up in Bellingham one of these days. We have a guest room and the cutest baby of all time … =) XXOO
Kathleen Rich says
Fantastic!!! Love the pics and that onsie is adorable. Despite the disappointment I hope you had a fabulous time in DC. There are days I definitely miss living there and being able to hop on the Metro to take my girls to all the museums.
We had a great time in DC. The Mandarin Oriental is one world class hotel (!!!) and it was so close to everything that we had a great time touring the memorials multiple times with Jamisen. It was really nice to get out and other than rain the first day we were there, the weather really cooperated so that was fantastic. =)
Diane Panaro says
Congratulations Anne Marie. When I first read this post I was angered at how our elected officials continue to behave…but upon further reading the post your entrepreneural spirit came shining through and instead I saw what an inspiration you are!
Cici Nicholson says
And I couldn’t have said it any better Diane Panaro!
We’re all so proud of your accomplishments Anne~Marie. I will however be sending a letter of disappointment to our President for snubbing the event when he was just steps away from the room that was honoring the SBA “elite”.
Glad you and your family made it home safely! The pictures of Jamisen were just darling and good on the hubs for helping out. Awesome family!
Cici, I’m going to write the President as well. At the very least, one of his staffers might not disregard next years’ winners. =)
Thanks Diane. At some point, ya’ just have to laugh and keep moving forward. After all, the situation is/was the same whether I was furious or whether I was trying to make the best of it. That said, I will be so happy to get home. Newborns off their schedule and time zone are a wee bit challenging. Ha ha. =)
Becky Raney says
Anne-Marie, we are proud of you and delighted that you had such an amazing opportunity! What are we to do about how the government views small business? This is really serious!! Because we are willing to work hard to get what we have, we have to pay for others that don’t…
but the real gem here is, you won WASHINGTON STATE SMALL BUSINESS OF THE YEAR!! That is so fantastic.
We are proud of you.
Thank you Becky. I agree, the big picture is that the award is awesome and keep on keeping on with the work we all do as small businesses. =) That said, I know I’ll be writing a few letters to my elected officials upon my return to Washington state =)
So happy you had an awesome, if tiring week. All kudos for making it work, and with Jamisen. It looks like you and Chris fitted tons in. I’d love to see Google!
Google was so cool – very bright and happy. I was jealous of their offices for sure =)