All entrepreneurs have a story. Some fall into entrepreneurial life by accident, some plan for it and others create it based on their needs.

My story started in my hometown. Cambridge, UK.

For as long as I remember, my mother was an entrepreneur. She owned and managed multiple businesses through various endeavors and worked from home the majority of my childhood. I was enamored with watching her work, and knew I wanted to one day follow in her footsteps.

It is no secret that she passed down her entrepreneurial spirit to me.

••••

The public-school system is vastly different in the UK as students specialize in subjects at a very early age. Naturally, I chose to niche down in business and took multiple classes in business management, accounting, media studies, and economics.

I loved it. I was good at it.

When I went to college, I started working part-time for one of the companies my mother co-founded, however, my journey took a turn when I met my now-husband, Philip. We met just before I started college when he was active duty in the Air Force. During my second year at school, Phil moved back to the U.S., and our relationship turned long-distance. It had its challenges, but fought through and were engaged soon after.

After I graduated college, I moved to the U.S., and we were married just a few short months later.

Even though I “checked all the boxes” to become a U.S. Citizen, and had the financial means to pay, the immigration process was extremely long, arduous and expensive. For months I could not work because I was waiting for my employment authorization or a green card. On top of that, there were not many career opportunities in Panama City, Florida, where we lived.

I finally received my employment authorization and green card within weeks of each other, and it was time to lay down the foundation for my career. My husband had been deployed and was in Afghanistan, and I was trying to find my way in a new country alone.

I held various roles over the next two years, including a failed attempt to start my own Cake business. While it was something I loved and had a great passion for, it was not a profitable business. I also served as an admin assistant and office manager at two different companies, but the Corporate America world was starting to take a toll on me. While I learned a lot from these roles, nothing seemed to be a good fit.

I finally landed a job as an accounting specialist. I had autonomy, stable hours and enjoyed the work, but once again, the position did not light my fire.

After a year as an accounting specialist, the military moved us to Las Vegas. I quickly started a new job, when I got a call that was going to, once again, change my career path.

My mother had been diagnosed with bowel cancer.

I took two-weeks unpaid leave to go back to the UK to take care of my mother after surgery, and that was the beginning of the end of my corporate career.

••••

Through the process of taking care of my mother, I felt extremely undervalued in my position at this company and did not feel like I was getting paid what I was worth. Also, I did not want to work for a corporate company that made me feel as if I was in the wrong for leaving to take care of my mother.

The combination of feeling undervalued with the lack of support during my mother’s illness cumulated until I did not want to get out of bed in the morning.

Life is too short to feel that low. So, I quit my job and went back to school.

I was accepted into the UNLV MBA Program and started my new journey in full swing. I enjoyed being back in a classroom and felt like this could be the foundation I needed to discover a career path that I truly loved.

Just a few weeks after starting the program, I received a call from my father that my mom had been hospitalized. She had a chronic infection in her stomach, and the doctors believed that she would not survive much longer.

Less than 18 hours after receiving the call, I was at my mother’s bedside in Cambridge.

I stayed in the UK for almost three months. I had to drop my classes that semester, but that time with my mom was so precious. It was such a difficult decision because I had been working so hard, but I knew I was right where I needed to be – present with my family.

Meanwhile, my husband was still in Las Vegas with our dogs and trying to navigate life himself.

••••

While my mom was able to beat the infection, her cancer had progressed to the point she could no longer eat, and I spent every day with her in the hospital.

On April 19, 2015, my mother passed away.

After the funeral, I returned to the United States. I was 24. Motherless. Trying to define my life without my role model.

I do not feel like I had enough time as an adult with my mom. I was starting to get to know her in a different way. Becoming her friend. However, it was never in my mother’s nature to wallow, make excuses, or give up, and I knew she would have wanted me to do the same.

I learned three things from my time with my mom in her last days: I wanted to be a mom. I wanted to finish my MBA. And I wanted to a business owner – just like her.

There was never going to be a perfect time for me to make my goals happen. I had to take a leap of faith, and it was time to make the jump.

I signed up to retake classes for the  MBA program at UNLV, and my husband and I started trying to begin our family. After five months, I finally got pregnant. We were so excited until we received the heartbreaking news that our scans showed the pregnancy was non-viable.

I had an incredibly painful miscarriage that sent me to the ER twice, and at that point, it would have been so easy for me to give up. But just like my mother did, I had to keep on, keeping on.

During my last semester before graduation, I got pregnant again. At the time I was juggling full-time classes, a position as Director at the Rebel Venture Fund (UNLV’s venture capital group) and a job as Director of Operations at a tech-startup, which made for a very busy and stressful first trimester.

 

After finally graduating, I made it a priority to be present in my pregnancy. I used the opportunity to try and start my own businesses by blogging about my pregnancy as a way to immerse myself in the journey.

Once again I discovered, while blogging about my pregnancy was a passion project, I knew I did not want to monetize it. Through the process of blogging, I found various entrepreneur communities online and began to implement my skill set of consulting, troubleshooting, tech, and business into a viable business plan.

I took another leap of faith.

I registered my domain: LucyCantley.com. I worked with a mindset coach, and I was ready to find clarity and direction to check off my final goal.

I built a business that was in line with who I was, and what I wanted to do while creating a balance between my career and my life as a new mom

And Lucy Cantley, the business, was born.

I miss my mother every single day, but I know she would be insanely proud of what I have accomplished.

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