Creating Boundaries For Your Business with Becca Mai
Becca Mai owns Wed2You consulting. Today we talked about owning a business as someone with a chronic illness, the wedding industry during a pandemic, setting healthy boundaries, and the tenacity it takes to keep going.
Hey Becca! I am so excited to have you on the show today. Introduce yourself!
Hi everyone! I'm Becca Mai. I own Wed2You consulting, which is a business and client management consulting firm for small businesses in the wedding and hospitality industries, to be able to organize and enrich their businesses.
Awesome! I want to start by asking what your job looked like before you owned your own business.
Yeah, I'll give you a little bit of background about me. I've been in the wedding and hospitality industry for over twelve years, eight of those years dedicated to the wedding industry, working with local planners and restaurant groups in the DMV area, as well as a wedding venue in DC. Throughout my career I've done over 250+ weddings. It's been a crazy journey.
Prior to owning my own business, I was the Director of Event Operations at a prestige wedding venue in DC and had been there since they first opened. I started from the ground up with them, going through the trials and tribulations of opening and doing the first wedding there. Then of course the pandemic happened, and things had to adjust quite a bit. That's where I decided to open my own business.
So I wanted to have you on today because I was interested to talk to creatives and those in the wedding business who have chronic illnesses. It's something we don't talk enough about and especially for those of us who have invisible illnesses, I don't think that people realize the different ways we need to adapt in our business. Especially as a business owner yourself, I would love to hear about your story in getting diagnosed and bringing that into your business.
I agree with you. It's the hardest thing with an invisible illness, that people can't see you're in pain or hurting, or they think that you're making things up. It's not even just the industry. It's worldwide that it needs to not be a taboo conversation anymore. Or, entrepreneurs or creatives shouldn't be afraid to talk about it anymore. I think that's been the biggest concern - "Oh no, if I talk about it, how will it affect my business?"
I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis back in July of 2019. The onset symptoms started pretty aggressively in April. I was actually working a wedding, and the next day I went to a winery with friends. I just didn't feel right. My legs felt weak, and my back was really hurting, which wasn't a surprise to me because I've had back problems for awhile. I always attributed it to being on my feet too much. In the industry, we're on our feet anywhere from 12-18 hours at a day when it comes to weddings. So I was like, maybe I just need to take it easy. But then it progressively got worse throughout the week. I ended up not being able to utilize my right leg at all. I scheduled an appointment with a doctor, but the earliest they could get me in wasn't for another week. It spiraled from there.
But the great thing was that when I went to my physician, there was actually a med student there who was specializing in neurology. I think I was severely lucky in that, unlike most others who don't get diagnosed for years and years. She immediately knew I should be referred to a neurologist. But they wanted to mitigate everything, do a full blood work up. They also thought it would be a good idea to see a rheumatologist, too.
Over the course of the next few months, I had seen a good ten different doctors. The "great" thing about insurance is that don't automatically take you up to an MRI unless it's an emergency. So I had to go through the full roundabout. I was denied an MRI four different times, it was insane. That's why my diagnosis extended out further than it needed to be, but again I was lucky to have an amazing neurologist behind me, constantly pushing to get this done and what the resolve is, and just never giving up, which is very unlike a lot of other MS patient stories and autoimmune stories I've heard.
Eventually I was diagnosed after doing a lumbar puncture to confirm. I ended up, after my MRIs, having three lesions on my spine right exactly in my pain points that I'd been having trouble. I also ended up having three lesions in my brain as well. It went from 0 to 60 in no time at all, and I ended up having to use a cane to get around.
It was a little challenging, especially with the career I had and industry I was in. I had to constantly tell my couples, "Hey, if you see me with a cane don't freak out." And they'd say. "Well you look okay now, is there something wrong?" And then I'd have to divulge... which, it's not that I had to, it's because I wanted to.
Everyone deals with a lifelong disease differently, but I decided in the very beginning that I was not going to let this disease control my life. I have a disease, but it doesn't have me. That's been my mentality throughout this whole process. I'm still going to do what I love to do, I just may need to modify things or get creative, and I'm never going to let it hold me back.
I love that so much. What an incredible mindset to have. It takes a lot of us a long time to even get there, so for you to be able to start strong that way is awesome. I think people outside of the wedding industry may not realize how physically demanding it is. There are several different roles obviously, but several of them require you to be on your feet for a long time and some of them require you to be carrying heavy stuff all day. I can't imagine how that changes things in the beginning when all the sudden things need to look different.