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A Diamond in the Rough

Well, I’ll be a monkey’s uncle! Never in my dreams did I figure a tough street girl from Hell’s Kitchen (HK) would end up living a dream life with financial freedom. Growing up in crime wonderland never afforded me anything monetarily, but gave me something much more valuable, the greatest entrepreneurial gift – a burning desire to make my life better.

I had little supervision as a child, as was the same for many of my peers. We were left to our own devices most of the time. For the most part this was great fun as we pulled pranks on strangers and played in open fire hydrants on hot summer days. On the flip side, our lack of supervision offered great opportunity in gangland. I had a few boneheaded friends who succumbed to this temptation and some lost their lives before the age of 20.

I have always loved dogs and find them to be the most optimistic creatures on earth. There were plenty of dogs that had it rough in HK, but they would always greet me with a wag of excitement in spite the fact they were homeless and hungry. I found this trait incredible as I often felt my life was a dead end judging by the adult examples around me who had lived in the same conditions for generations. I didn’t want this existence for the rest of my life but had no idea how to escape what seemed to be inevitable.

Sometimes we would escape the hood and head over to Central Park which was about a 20 minute hike. I would often see people in the park who obviously had and better life than mine and I would wonder how they got there. I used to make up stories in my head about the people I saw, giving them names, occupations, and a fulfilling daily existence. Unknowingly to me, this is where I would start my entrepreneurship at the age of 12.

One day while in the park I was drawn to a dog that was walking their owner, a woman I had seen many times before. She was always walking quickly and seemed to be on a mission. I pictured her as having this incredible family being the one holding everything together in her busy household. On this day she had a cute mid-sized terrier. I didn’t realize she had a dog and this elevated my interest in her.

Half intimidated by this woman on a mission, I approached her and asked her the dog’s name. “Her name is Garbo, and what is your name?”. “Moxie”, I replied, in an overconfident tone. “Well that’s a nice name, I’m Victoria Winston, it is very nice to meet you”. I looked at her with the blankest of stares wondering what planet she came from with a reply like that.

I saw Victoria Winston several more times in the park and Garbo and I would play while she sat on a nearby bench. One day she said she had a very busy week and asked if I would come over after school and walk Garbo. This began my New York City dog walking business.


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