You Can’t Grow If You Don’t Fail
Pam Hatcher has learned from experience that there is no such thing as growth in the absence of setbacks. Those lessons have come in the form of a strained relationship with a free-spirited, largely absent mother and the collapse of a long-term friendship and business partnership. While both created stress and hardship, they also helped shape Pam into the businesswoman, partner and mother she is proud to be today.
Pam was born in Washington, D.C. to a father who worked in the Senate and an artist mother. When Pam and her younger sister were small, the foursome relocated to Austin, TX to be closer to extended family. Pam’s father continued to work in D.C. and was a rare presence in their home, leaving Pam and her sister subject to the whims of their unpredictable mother. Pam often wished she had a different kind of mom, a mom who was like everyone else’s. Instead, hers was the kind of mom who went vegan before vegan was cool, gave away every cent she made, and threw herself into myriad causes while simultaneously paying scant attention to the daughters she had at home. Then, when Pam was only 12, her mother made the sudden announcement that she was leaving the family.
Pam’s father, having grown up in a traditional, Southern culture and accustomed to spending most of his waking hours at his office, had no idea what to do with two young girls. He relocated the family to his hometown of Fayetteville, AK and soon remarried, but the marriage fell apart in short order. Once again, Pam and her sister were left to fend mostly for themselves, dealing with the fallout from their mother’s absence as best they could.
Pam spent summers at the lake and weekends at parties at the ends of cul-de-sacs. There were suppers of fried chicken, southern biscuits, fried okra, and sweet tea shared with comforting Southern gentility, yet Pam chafed against the narrowmindedness she often encountered there. Life in a small Southern town felt constricting in ways she couldn’t quite put her finger on; all she knew for sure was that it was not where she wanted to be forever.
Pam went off to college, intending to use her degree to pursue a career in advertising, and was lucky enough to find a job with a small advertising company after graduation. The company was run by a young husband-and-wife team who freely turned over many responsibilities to Pam, a quick study and hard worker. Soon Pam, along with a close friend and co-worker, decided to take on even more; they started a business together selling stationery and party supplies. Pam was working ten- to twelve-hour shifts six or seven days a week, but she was young and single and motivated; the long hours didn’t bother her a bit.
Eventually, the business grew too big to keep up with her day job, so Pam and her partner left the ad company and struck out on their own. The business quickly expanded from a two-person operation with a shoestring budget to a $12 million company with over 100 employees. Pam moved to Denver, fell in love and got married. Life seemed to be going along perfectly according to plan, but there were cracks below the surface that would soon make their presence known.
For years, Pam had ignored an increasing imbalance in her role in the company compared to that of her partner. Long simmering resentments boiled over when the real estate deal Pam had signed onto blindly with her business partner went belly up, leaving in its wake a ruined friendship and partnership along with dizzying legal and financial consequences.
Prior to the collapse of the business, Pam had been forced into another kind of reckoning. Her mother, always a sporadic and unsettling presence in Pam’s life, died suddenly of complications from the flu. At the hospital, Pam watched dry-eyed as a woman close to her own age sobbed over the loss. It occurred to Pam that this distraught woman was far more like the daughter her mother had probably wanted Pam to be. Neither she nor her mother had been who the other wanted them to be and somehow, that realization allowed Pam to extend a grace to their mother-daughter relationship that she had never found before. Her mother had been the only mother she was capable of being. It was time, she realized, to accept that and to make sure that when her turn came to be a mother, she did it very differently.
So too, Pam has come to believe, were there lessons to be learned from her collapsed business relationship. She is a far savvier businesswoman now than she once was, having learned the hard way about the importance of due diligence, even among friends, and the necessity of personal guarantees. Pam has taken those lessons and applied them to her latest venture, a home, party and gift supply business started in 2018 called Design Click. There were tough times to weather during the Covid shutdowns, but the business survived and, with the return of social gatherings at last, is poised to thrive.
Pam believes she has found that elusive balance between work and home, scaling back travel and management responsibilities to make sure she is there for her two teenage sons, while still finding professional fulfillment. The path of Pam’s life has not always been certain or easy, but she has been able to turn the challenges and missteps into opportunities for growth, becoming the resilient, empathetic, fully present person she is today.