So by now you’ve probably got a good idea of what we do here at The Sweat Social. But you might be wondering what brought us to the amazing city that has given us the opportunity to live our dream.
Our story starts in 2000, when I spent a summer in New Orleans teaching drama to twelve-year-olds for a program called Breakthrough (formerly known as Summerbridge). I loved it. I stayed with a family in the West Bank and had the time of my life. I enjoyed encouraging my students and made great local friends that I still keep in touch with today. In 2005, I met my husband-to-be. I was working in New York City for the investment bank Merrill Lynch; he was in Los Angeles working on his first startup. After one year of long distance torture, he decided to move back to New York City.
We packed up his car and started our drive cross-country from LA. During that time, a massive ice storm hit the middle of the country forcing us to divert through the southern states. I demanded that we stop in New Orleans. I wanted him to see the city I loved. We planned to stay for one night and ended up staying a week. My husband loved every second and extended our hotel stay more than a few times.
Since then, New Orleans was the only place we would continually come to visit. It was our place, a real home away from home. Over the next eight years, we visited the Crescent City ten times. We spent holidays, long weekends and birthdays in the city. Our last trip was in January 2014, when we brought my mother-in-law here to celebrate her 60th birthday.
In April of 2014, my husband and I quit our corporate jobs and booked a one-way ticket to Bangkok, Thailand. We decided to travel for a full year to open our minds 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 peel back the layers of distraction and stress that once dominated my everyday 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 passions fortified with some business savvy gained from ten years on Wall St. With a lot of encouragement from my husband, I launched a fitness company 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 our co-working desk in Singapore and said “Hey! There’s this big entrepreneurial festival in New Orleans called NOEW, we have to go!” That was it.
We arrived in New Orleans from New Delhi for NOEW 2015 and never looked back. After our 5th day in the city, I knew I had made the right decision (likely because my neighbors gave me free Jazz Fest tickets as a welcome present). I can’t thank the people who put the NOEW 2015 conference together enough and the team at the Idea Village. Without their help, our "Fitness for Travelers" service company, The Sweat Social, wouldn't be where it is today. A special thanks goes out to Rhea Ghosh, Summer Suleiman, Richard Hébert, Victoria Adams, Emily Egan, Callista Michael-Rill, Reba Billips 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 The Sweat Social? Well, we are going to be competing in The Blackstone Big Idea with amazing people committed to the entrepreneurial future of New Orleans.
New Orleans, it took traveling the world to find you, but we sure did, and we love you.