Military spouses are resourceful, creative and passionate. They adapt to all sorts of situations; they tell their stories -- when prodded -- with humility and grace. So many of them start with, "I think my story is actually pretty common among military spouses -- we leave our careers because our husbands get relocated, and we have to find a way to help support our families."
That's true for Lindsey Smith, who recently started The Charcuterie Chic, a charcuterie board business in Fayetteville, North Carolina. Thanks to professional licensing laws that made it impossible for her to practice as a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, she had to start over. This is her story.
I'm from California, right outside San Francisco. I left home to go to the University of California-Santa Barbara for my bachelor's degree in psychology, and then got my master's degree in clinical psychology from California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo.
I spent 3,000 hours as an intern and became a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. I worked for the county treating mental health and substance use, and I was the lead clinician for Adult Drug Court, trained law enforcement about safe interactions with those afflicted by mental health and substance use. And I was training to be the forensics program supervisor -- the youngest one ever in the county.
Then, I got married, and one month later, he told me we were moving to Fayetteville, North Carolina. I didn't want to go. We lived right next to the beach, and I had an amazing career that I had invested a lot of time in school for and worked really hard to be successful. But I love him, and I said "I do." I even put in my vows that I'd go wherever he goes.
So, a month later, we said "goodbye" to all our family and friends, packed up all our stuff and both dogs, and drove 3,000 miles across the country.
I hated living here the first couple of months, I’m not going to lie about that. I found out that I couldn't work in my career out here because this state won't license me. I didn't know anybody here, it rained all the time, there was no Whole Foods. And why on earth did this place rename Carl's Jr. to Hardees? I was miserable and almost moved back, by myself.
But then I decided to stop feeling sorry for myself. Things are as good as you make them, and I wasn't putting any effort into doing that. So, I joined a gym, made friends with my neighbors and other amazing women, and started finding things to like here instead of just complaining about everything I didn't like.
I love to cook. I'm a decent baker, too. But my favorite was always creating beautiful and delicious charcuterie boards when we would entertain.
I'm a grazer, so it came naturally. I also have a slight case of perfectionism, so making boards look perfect spoke to me. Many friends asked me to make them one when they hosted parties. People often suggested I start a business doing it. Now, I knew nothing about opening or running a business. That’s ironic, since I'm the daughter of a painting contractor who has owned his own business my whole life, but I just never had any desire to because I saw how hard it was on my dad. I wanted the security of a nine to five job.
But one day, my husband came to me, and we had a serious talk about the state of our finances (since I no longer made $80,000 a year). I realized I needed to earn some income somehow to help support my family.
My new best friend convinced me to start a charcuterie board making business. I didn't think it would be successful; I didn't think this was the right location for it, I didn't even know if I could actually do it.
There was a lot of fear and doubt -- what if I fail? But I took the leap. I set up social media accounts, took a crash course at the Women's Business Center of Fayetteville, and filed for my LLC. I got business cards made, and my friends were kind enough to share me with their friends and coworkers.
The word got out, and I've been busy. It's been more successful than I ever imagined. Most of my initial business came from my charcuterie to-go boxes. It's basically a date night in a box, just add wine. Some of the amazing Real Estate agents at Keller Williams have been very supportive of me and order them as closing gifts for their clients.
I've recently started doing large parties, corporate events and even weddings. Those are fun because I get to set up huge grazing tables that look really impressive (and taste delicious of course). I'm even teaching workshops on how to make your own Instagram worthy charcuterie board at Dirtbag Ales in Hope Mills and Cornerstone Design Co in downtown Fayetteville. The upcoming classes are sold out, so I'll be doing more soon.
I've been lucky to have support from other local, women-owned businesses, too. I never thought I'd be anything besides a psychotherapist, but I'm doing something I love, something I'm good at, and something that I feel a lot of pride in because I did it. I guess that's what being an entrepreneur is all about.
My husband also told me he was proud of me for taking the risk and being successful, plus it's helped ease the financial burden, so he doesn't have to shoulder it alone. I'm excited to see what the next phase of business ownership brings.
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