I sat on the couch, the late spring light streaming in through the trees, the way it dances while it teases at hints of summer.
Pulling my knees to my chest, the cushions behind my back hugging the space between my spine and frame of the couch, I cradled our brand new baby in my arms. In that deep sleep only newborns can achieve, she was peacefully and blissfully unaware of the chaos brewing inside of me.
My chest was so tight, the air unable to find the pockets of my lungs as if someone had bound them tight when I had exhaled. The blackness swirled in my gut, opening a pit into a pool of worst case scenarios. And my mind raced, despite trying to keep it – if not quiet – at the very least at the edge of the implosion that was collapsing in around me and ready to take me with it.
I couldn’t look up – wouldn’t. My husband’s kind and deep eyes framed in their own fear and doubt that he was pushing away.
I couldn’t look up – wouldn’t – as my breath got lost in an exhale, broken and short, and I began to descend once again.
“How could this be happening to us again!?” I asked, trying to muffle my cries and soften them in the cushion of words escaping my lips, desperate to let sleeping babies, sleep.
Here we were, not four years after this exact same event had transpired with our first child:
a brand new baby not a week old, and our entire financial security disappeared.
The media company I had dedicated my life to for almost three years had crumbled and I – the breadwinner of the family – was out of a job.
The first time around, eight days after our first child was born a horrific incident sent our family, and only support, fleeing the state, taking our entire business and income with them.
“How could this be happening to us again?!” I repeated over and over again, each time the breath getting shorter as I descended further into the panic.
“Honey,” my husband said, his voice sharp to cut through to me, “it’s going to keep happening until you do this for yourself.”
And the floor fell out beneath me.
I started working for the things I wanted in my life when I was 14 years old.
I loved to work; my work was meaningful to me and fulfilling. I was the kind of person who loved hard, physical, labor and to fall into bed tired and satisfied every single day. 12 hour days were the best kind of days.
I started teaching horseback riding lessons to pay for my own equine education by the time I was 15. At 17 I was taking two buses and a Skytrain three hours, one way, every weekend, to teach riding lessons at the barn and make a living to afford my own horse and put myself through college. By 18 I was fully certified as an instructor and by 19 I was running the entire riding program and training horses on the side.
And then I fell in love…
By 26, I was playing a pivotal role in my in-law’s 7 – figure business that we loved, building a successful social media presence and community by sharing that love openly. We gave our community access to a world they had previously been denied.
And then I got pregnant…
The world was exactly as it should have been for our first child. We lived next door to grandparents, room to run and roam for the kids, and a family business to grow up in.
Until it began to unravel. And eight days after our son was born a horrific incident sent my in-laws escaping the state in search of safety, and we were left behind. No income, no support, no one.
Despite being in the throes of postpartum depression and anxiety, I fell into my first role as a storyteller for a new and emerging media company.
It started as a joke, to be honest…
A joke that I could do a better job of storytelling than the other guy I knew doing it. When the opportunity arose, I had to put my money where my mouth was.
That first story I wrote broke all the records – most visited story on the website, longest time spent on the page, most social media shares…
And I understood, for the first time, the absolute power of storytelling.
Over the course of almost three years, I would break those records again and again by telling the stories of some of the most prolific people, events, and horses in the world of horse racing.
What started as a tiny endeavor, grew to a team of writers committed to the raw beauty in a good story and my job was to finesse our use of storytelling across all our media.
Our community of fans became the most loyal fans, consuming content at incredible speeds and supporting our every experiment.
My role as Chief Storytelling Officer took me to some of the most hallowed places in the sport and into conversations with Hall of Famers, NBC Sports personalities, Miss America contestants, artists, fans, and those who worked every day to make that sport run.
We loved it – our community loved it – and it was a way for the fans to get one step closer to the one thing they loved in life, by being transported to the events in racing they couldn’t get close enough to.
We told the stories of legacies that meant something to people, that brought humans closer together, that connected them with a language we innately understand.
And it worked.
We sold out our first subscription of a print magazine in no time – home to some of the stories I’m most proud of. We built a social media presence that was as robust as it was active. We created marketing campaigns that excited and converted.
But as my second child’s birth got closer, things started to slip behind the scenes. Things that didn’t make sense.
As I worked from my hospital bed, and subsequently from the NICU where my daughter stayed in the week following her birth, I knew another end was coming. And it did.
And as I sat on the couch, the late spring light streaming in through the trees, the way it dances, teasing at hints of summer, I collapsed into the unknowingness of it all.
Two babies, a brand new house, a family to provide for, and the floor fell out.
Our safety disappeared. Again.
And the only person who was able to show me why we were here, again, was the one person who loved me the most.
“It’s going to keep happening until you do this for yourself,” he said.
And in that single moment my business was born.
With a background in marketing strategy, print and digital media, social media strategy, conversion copywriting, blogging, journalism,teaching and entrepreneurship I combine that with the infallible power of storytelling to create impactful story-based marketing strategies that connect, create community, and convert.
“What is there to say about Eliya that hasn’t already been said? She’s an incredibly creative individual who is always open to the needs of her clientele. Innovative and fun, she possesses a unique ability to help others succeed.”