My Journey: Part 1

Hi, I’m Erika Helwig! Boss Evolution is a group I founded in 2016. Being a small business owner is difficult in itself…being a WOMAN business owner is a whole other challenge.

Let’s be real, we’re still fighting to be taken seriously as leaders. The struggle is real.

The journey BE has taken me on is one I never imagined I would ever take. The journey to it was full of self-reflection, travelling, and a lot of change.  Here’s my story.

unrecognizable woman sitting in hammock above mountains

I’m naturally an introvert. I used to get horrible social anxiety to the point I went on medication for a few years (no shame in it!). I would like nothing more than to be left alone with my books, hike all the woods, & create endless baking recipes.

That’s me in a nutshell. What changed? What got me out of my shell? Opening a business.

I never took the same path in life as anyone else I knew. I always felt outside the box looking in; sometimes it was straight up pouring on me while everyone else was dry and comfortable inside that box.

While my peers in high school were playing sports, taking the SATS, applying to colleges, and planning their futures, I was just…floating about. All I knew is that I wanted out, I wanted freedom from the small township I grew up in, & I wanted to travel. The gypsy spirit is strong in me.

close up photo of assorted color of push pins on map

At 18, just 4 days after my birthday, I peaced out. I left Michigan and moved to San Diego, CA. I didn’t go there for college. I just went. I had a friend there, but she left Cali about 6 months after I moved there.

I stayed, moving around every 3-6 months, for 8 years. I lived alone, I lived with friends, I lived with boyfriends. I had so many different apartments in different parts of that vast county. I had a small group of friends who were a mishmash of oddballs (like me) from around the world: Russia, Columbia, El Salvador, Mexico, Boston.  I had a steady office job that paid decent, but it was pretty stagnant.

I decided to go to community college a year after moving there. Teaching and owning a business were always my personal career battle. But when I needed to make the choice, teaching won simply because of my lack of confidence, my shyness, and just not having a clue.

After spending my early 20’s working full-time and going to college part-time, I decided that my time in California was over. I was just done one day. Time to move on.

woman looking at the map

I didn’t know where I wanted to go next. North Carolina was on my radar; I love the weather and terrain. After searching online for apartments and jobs, I decided against it. I didn’t know a soul there.

I made the decision to move to Massachusetts, to a small little town called Hull southeast of Boston. I had a friend there and she was up for having a roommate.

My move date was set. I gave my apartment complex and my work my notice. In two months’ time I would be road tripping it across the country (for the 4th time) to a new adventure. Then BAM…I fell in love.

You’re probably thinking, aw she stayed for him! No ladies and gentleman, I did not. I still left. We spent as much time as possible together my last 2 months in California.

Long story short, we did long distance for 6 months. He visited me in Massachusetts, I went back to Cali for visits. After an amazing few months, I decided it was time to leave the condo overlooking the Atlantic Ocean outside of Boston. I had no job prospects, the teaching program in Mass was arduous, and I was running out of money. At 26, it was time to get my shit together.

empty road

I moved again. I went back to where I started…Michigan. Remember that guy I fell in love with? He moved to Michigan 2 months later and we’ve been married for 12 years with 2 kids.

Fast forward to now. I’ve been back in Michigan for 15 years.

Are you still with me? I know, it’s a long journey. Just think of all the in between details I left out. I’d be halfway to writing my memoir by now.

I finished college a few months before turning 30 (finishing college before 30 was a goal of mine). I have a degree in education, own 2 businesses, and started a podcast this year. I just summed up 10 years of my life in this one paragraph.

There is so much more…wins, fails, tears, sweat. All the stuff that every single person reading this has experienced. Join me next week to hear how I went from not being able to get a teaching job, to starting a small business with a 5 month old on my hip.

Thanks for taking the time to read some of my story. I hope it inspired you, even if just a little, to stay on your path. Because it’s YOURS. It belongs to no one else but you.

~Erika

inspirational quotes on a planner

By Boss Evolution

Founder of Boss Evolution (formally Girlboss Detroit)

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