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On Becoming An Un-Lost Entrepreneur

You know that feeling when you realize you’re lost? When you don’t know where you are, how you came to be there, and what direction to go next to get back to somewhere more familiar?

I’ve gotten lost, really lost, only twice before.

When I was 11, while visiting relatives at their new house, I followed some deer into a wooded area that stretched beyond their backyard. I remember looking back a few times to make sure I could still see the house as it faded into the trees behind me and then, suddenly, it was gone and the thick stands of oaks around me offered no clues for backtracking.

Decades later, while mountain biking with a friend in southeast Washington state, we missed a turn and instead found ourselves at a spaghetti junction of fire roads. We guessed wrong and rode deeper into an unfamiliar valley as the sun was starting to set.

On both of these occasions, getting un-lost necessitated three things: staying calm, asking for help, and learning from the experience.

As a kid, I got myself out of the wooded area and onto a road with a few houses, where I asked a person watering their garden to help me find my relative’s home. My riding friend and I decided to approach a hunting party that was target practicing to ask for help — they were the only people we had seen in hours.

Both instances provided powerful experiences for learning how to (hopefully) avoid getting lost in the future and reinforced actions to take if/when I found myself lost again.

For me, getting lost biologically manifests as a sink in my gut, a wave of fight-or-flight adrenaline, my brain in overdrive, trying to solve for the unknown. A few months ago, I realized I was experiencing the same manifestations, but I wasn’t hiking or biking in the backcountry — I was sitting at my computer desk.

Looking around, nothing appeared as it had only weeks prior. I was in a totally unfamiliar space and time. I was lost again. Maybe you can relate?

For the past two years, I’ve put my all into GO Box. It is my singular professional focus, but it’s more than just a job. It’s my pride and joy, my life’s work, driven by a deep intrinsic motivation to not only reduce my personal impact on the planet and all its inhabitants, but to provide that same opportunity to my community, and the world. And it was working!

February was GO Box’ busiest month ever, with a record number of reusables washed (equally, a record number of single-use plastic products being eliminated from use and disposal!).

Then came to the one-two gut check in the form of a global pandemic and George Floyd’s murder, sparking a renewed movement for racial, social, economic, and environmental justice led by Black Lives Matter.

It was a lot to take in over three months. I felt compelled to dig deeper and more authentically into the significant, necessary work to examine my roles and responsibilities as a community-minded business owner. But I also vacillated between feeling numb, shocked, guilty, and depressed as I sat listlessly in front of the cold glow of the computer, trying to process the ever-changing world.

I felt lost, even as I knew I should be working hard on finding myself. Then, while sitting outside on a sunny afternoon in June, I realized that I didn’t want to feel lost anymore. I wanted to get back to making a positive impact on the world, a world that seemed so ready for real change. I decided to try and get unlost again by leaning into the same three strategies.

Stay Calm: Self-care is not something that comes easily to me, but I knew it was the necessary first step in the strategy. So I re-engaged with those activities that I know bring me peace and strength — bike riding, gardening, and extra snuggles with my husband and our pets.

Ask for Help: LOACOM is a strategy and communications firm based in Santa Barbara, CA that had been on my radar for quite a while. They are a B Corp certified company as well as a fellow 1% for the Planet business member. Their values are perfectly aligned with GO Box and I made the decision to reach out in hopes that they might bring some fresh ideas and perspective to GO Box. It was time for me to stretch my ambitions, and this seemed a perfect way to start. I am excited to be working with LOACOM’s all-star team through this process of finding — and redefining — familiarity in a world where, while some things have remained the same, many things are very different.

Learn from the Experience: As I continue to do my own internal work, build out new partnerships, and re-imagine the role of GO Box in our dynamic world, I know there will be obstacles. But I am confident in my process and am excited to share the outcomes of our evolving strategy moves, which I hope will make GO Box more accessible, valuable, and impactful, with you soon. Along the way, we will learn together. GO Box will be sharing information on the safety issues and necessity of reuse that have arisen in a COVID-19 world. We will highlight how we’re working to support environmental and social justice efforts locally and beyond. And we will share our vision for a single-use free Portland (and other cities!) and the future of GO Box.

I want to thank our community of vendors and subscribers who have offered their patience and continued support as GO Box navigates this unfamiliar space — especially as I know many of you are doing the same.

There is so much to learn from all of the loss that we are individually and collectively experiencing right now but I honestly believe that together, we can rebuild and find ourselves with a new “familiar” that is truly more just and sustainable than we had previously.

Stay motivated, stay inspired, and stay tuned.

With hope,
Jocelyn Quarrell