My first company was called HG Phoenix. It didn’t last long – I met Joyce and it quickly got absorbed into what is now CoomberSewell Enterprises. As any business which has survived the ashes of 2020 may be doing right now, I’ve been thinking about the symbolism of the phoenix from the ashes. I’ve been thinking about the future and how sometimes to move forward, we need to acknowledge our backgrounds and how we are the product of our upbringings, for good or ill.
When I started HG Phoenix, I’d just resigned from a job with a boss who later had a class action taken out against them for bullying. The choice of Phoenix was the obvious one. I was rising from the ashes of my tattered confidence, but there was also a family connection. My mum always told stories of a distant ancestor called Sarah Phoenix Perfect, who, she had always been led to believe ‘came from the gypsies’. I couldn’t call the company ‘Perfect Proofreading’. That would be opening myself up to all sorts of trouble, but I had always had a romantic fascination with SPP, as I call her in my head. I never believed the ‘gypsy’ tales but resolved that if I ever wrote romantic or erotic fiction, this would be my pen name. I haven’t written the novel (yet). Years on however, my parents have genealogy as their major non-faith pastime and it turns out its probably true. SPP is real, and she was adopted into the family from a traveller background. As my theology colleague Steven Horne can attest, traveller records can be a little… oral, so after that, the trail goes cold.
The HG was simple – my father’s middle initials, and I’ve always been a Daddy’s girl. It was with my parents’ faith in me, and encouragement from an unforeseen quarter, that I set out on my new adventure. The internationally renowned jazz singer and radio presenter Clare Teal, who I knew a little and whose opinion I value to this day, encouraged me to do what I was passionate about and made me happy. The rest would follow. The path has been winding, but CoomberSewell Enterprises is a quietly successful business. Some people question the use of the word Enterprises, but we use it as a reflection of our mindset; innovative, enterprising, hopeful and kind.
As you shake the ashes of 2020 off your feet, whatever it has cost you whether that is your job, family members or security, I encourage you to look at the strong foundations your upbringing has provided you, however barren the landscape looks. I totally acknowledge my good fortune in my upbringing in have hard working parents who instilled strong values in me. No family situation is perfect, and others will have got their strengths and values despite their upbringing. Nevertheless, that is where the stories we tell ourselves are rooted. If you are having trouble seeing the wood from the ash, do contact us for a mentoring session with Joyce.