10 Milestone Moments over 10 Years / by Sarah Vaile


february, 2011: Chicago, IL

With Meg’s black book of referrals, clients were pouring into our studio. We were bursting at the seams yet I couldn’t find it in myself to turn any project away. I was convinced Melissa and I could handle it all. 

Just what is it about bringing on your first hire that is so terrifying? Landing a partner in business feels a lot like finding a spouse - it makes every challenge ahead a little less scary. But yet making a first hire...it feels a little more like having your first child. Suddenly there is someone largely dependent on you for their future, their wellbeing, their happiness. I wasn’t looking to expand anytime soon. 

Yet somewhere between hanging drapes and a gallery wall, I found myself confessing to our client Debbie that I was drowning from all the work. 

The next day I had a text from a new number. 

“My mom mentioned you might need some help. Drink this week?” 

See the thing about Hayley is that she is extremely charming. In the most genuine of ways. The girl could sell ice to an Eskimo.

We left that night agreeing she would help us part time. What was the harm in that? It felt like a good way to get our feet wet.

I think it was two weeks before our part time girl was a salaried employee and only a few years before she was a firm partner.

The night Melissa and I asked Hayley to be a partner, she confessed that had long been her game plan.

Little did I know that one drink would turn into Hayley hiring me.