What you're contemplating is vengeance, not justice, and we don't need vengeance

What you're contemplating is vengeance, not justice, and we don't need vengeance

If this is your first time visiting our site or store, welcome. If you’ve been around for a while, then you know a little about us. Either way, let me introduce myself. Hi, I’m Beka, my husband and I own Advancing Aiden, and we are a bit different when it comes to owning and operating a business. I wanted to share the story of Advancing Aiden with you, and to do that, we have to talk about a few things. What is the difference between vengeance and justice? What does it have to do with a storefront being opened, and why am I talking about it today? 

Let’s define some things quick and then I’ll tell you our story.

Vengeance: “Punishment inflicted or retribution exacted for an injury or wrong”
Justice: “The quality of being just; righteousness, equitableness, or moral rightness: the administering of deserved punishment or reward”

In order to tell our story we have to go back to the beginning. I’ve struggled with vengeance versus justice as a person for most of my life. I’m a deeply black and white person (hey, apparently that’s part of ADHD which is a WHOLE other topic we will cover on the podcast) and I struggle with the balance of justice and compassion. I took to crafting when I was teen when I learned how to crochet. When Aiden was in the NICU, I spent a lot of time on YouTube and that’s how I found tumbler making at the beginning but I just watched them for distraction.

It wasn’t until after she was home and we got our hospital bills that I considered doing it to make some money to pay for her NICU bills. I had talked with Nick and my therapist about ways that could help me cope with the reality of being a parent to a high medical needs child, as well as working on trying to cope with Complex PTSD. After a visit to an old friend who showed me the Cricut, we decided to give it a whirl. 

We opened in March of 2019, and we received a LOT of support from friends and family. As you can see from the beginning, we have always been about incorporating who we are as whole people into the business. That has never, and will never change. We know that in today’s day and age, stepping out as a business and standing behind our beliefs comes at a cost. But we have always been this way, and the day we are more concerned about making a sale than we are about making sure we are staying true to our beliefs, morals, and ethics is the day we close. 

The craft community is brutal, and we know firsthand how bad it can get. Without boring y’all too much, the first year I was open as Advancing Aiden was full of lessons. I had been a volunteer, then an employee of another small business. But not even a year after we opened, I had left that company due to my personal experience with ethical and moral differences, abuse, and (in my research and opinion) illegal business practices. I don’t feel like feeding the owner’s narcissism by saying anything more than we are grateful for the lessons we learned through that treatment. We wish them the business they deserve and nothing more or less. 

During the time with the other company, Advancing Aiden had fallen to the side, I had admittedly, made poor decisions. This experience taught me about business boundaries, friendship boundaries, and the danger of neglecting your inner red flags with business relationships. It was also the first time I struggled with wanting vengeance. I did release a YouTube Video about my experience, and to be fair, I recorded that video no less than 5 times, each time moving more from vengeance to what I believe was a fair and correct representation of my experience. 

To be open and honest, it was so hard to see someone who I had given thousands of dollars, countless hours, and emotional energy betray all the things they claimed to believe in, and I renewed my vow to NEVER set aside my business for a sob story from someone again. The more lies that were revealed, the more foolish I felt.  

By June of 2020, we were supplying stainless steel tumbler blanks, had grown on Tiktok, had launched Passport, (our learning community) and I was doing Teaching Tumbler Sub Boxes. I had started working on LaunchPad (a learning course for small businesses, and it’s still in development) and we were in full swing of COVID. We SWORE we were never going to sell glitter. We BLEW UP as a tumbler supplier, and were doing everything from our basement. We had hired a friend through Advancing Aiden from Spring of 2020 until Fall of 2020, who lived in our home and we had a lot of questions about why that relationship didn’t last very long. 

I will answer these questions now. I caught the individual shoving Aiden off our couch, denying food to Andrew, shouting/screaming/cursing at the children, failing to meet rules we agreed to in order to live in our home regarding COVID, and a month after they left, we found out had abused Andrew. We tried incredibly hard to salvage that relationship prior to asking them to leave our home, but it was impossible. We have all the proof of this, and were shattered when we had to file a police report on someone who was the Godparent to both my children. Nothing prepares you as a parent for hearing your (at the time) 3 year old scream at you while sobbing “Don’t touch me like ********* mommy. Don’t do that.” 

I struggled with vengeance that day. I have tears streaming down my face as I write this. If the day ever comes my son remembers and brings it up, I have the police report that says I believed him. Watching my husband sob to a police officer about how he failed as a parent leaves a scar so deep I wonder if it will ever heal. Unfortunately, the social media groups kept asking what happened to this person, and I think the video is still up where I snapped and said the next time someone asked, I was banning them. I caught some flack for that because I protected my children and didn’t say why they left. I just said to stop asking. We didn’t address why that person left, they just disappeared, and we didn’t say much of anything. Looking back, that was the wrong decision, we should have been a bit more transparent or found a better way to explain it.

In the fall of 2020, we decided to start selling glitter. I’ll admit it, we had said from the beginning we wouldn’t supply glitter, and then we did it anyway… I swear, when I said it…. I BELIEVED IT! But we started selling glitter, and honestly, it was a good move. We had a good time with it, and we met some super cool people along the way. We did Teaching Tumbler Sub Boxes, Glitter Coloration Collections, and a few other things. We added molds, inks, and sublimation tumblers over time. 

One of the things I struggled with was as I grew on social media, particularly TikTok, I saw “community over competition” and I continued to speak out about why I didn’t agree with it. A lot of the larger creators on TikTok don’t agree with me, and it caused a few problems. I won't get into here because I know they still check my socials and website and I enjoy being petty… If I explain myself, they’ll say I’m obsessed with them when I’m just trying to lay the foundation. If I don’t explain it, you’re missing a chapter, but I’ll cliff notes it for you. 

People on TikTok don’t like that I’m not into making people feel good about my delivery and I don’t waste time being “sweet” when addressing them. We play by my rules on my social media. Don’t make an ass out of yourself in my comments because I keep all receipts, only remove videos when they no longer serve MY purpose, and will never hesitate to make a video about you, TO YOU. I don’t play the vague drama games, I straight up name names and I always give the background. When I call people out like that, they get their panties in a wad and say I’m not community over competition. Then they don’t like when I say 'you’re right. I’m not.’

ANYWAY…moving this right along…In April of 2021, I was sent some videos by another creator who was doing an epoxy experiment. I was mutuals with the company (the video from when I was excited they followed me is STILL up on my page) and I reached out to the owner and asked about it. I asked if they minded if I did an experiment with their product, and they said yes. If you want to know what happened, go watch the videos. It’s all still up. 

Part of the story I never told is I was friends with a big creator who encouraged me to lean into the drama of the event and was kinda rude when I chose to handle it with minimal engagement. I finished the experiment, and have one semi-petty video, but still feel I handled it well. I was subjected to probably almost two weeks of video after video by this company being defamatory, derogatory, abusive, and threatening. They would make several videos at a time, then delete them or private them. 

The driving forces behind why we decided to close on April 26th, 2021 are deeply personal and related to our children. It was a very difficult time, traumatic and disappointing, but at the end of the day, Advancing Aiden was started for our children and closed to protect them as well. On April 26th, 2021, we issued statements on social media stating we were closing, and a week later every piece of inventory was sold and shipped.

Believe me when I say, there is nothing that will make me wholeheartedly decide to rain hellfire down on you more than to have you threaten my children. There are legal resources available to us that we have chosen to take, but it is a very slow process and I am not at liberty to discuss anything more about it. (Everyone say hi to my attorney who approved this message.)

But that didn’t end there, there was a “Tea Time” group that I was in on Facebook and I think a month after we closed, I discovered someone who I looked up to in the community and had admired was mocking me behind closed doors and then publicly accused me of lying about the email. That was when I decided I was done with the Tumbler/Craft Community. I’ve been struggling with wanting to expose them, wanting vengeance for what I was put through, the degradation, humiliation, stalking, harassment and bullying. 

I took a lot of time off social media, and during this time, my block list got really long. I spent a lot of time with my family, and I spent a lot of time in therapy, talking through everything.

I use the photo to say, I’m never going to say I won’t do something again. Fast forward to December of 2021, it had been 7 months since we closed, we had moved to a different state, back home with family, and I had come to terms with what had happened. 

My husband brought up selling glitter again, and then asked about opening a storefront. That brings up to speed on how we got here! We released our glitter bundles and individuals back to the website on January 1st, 2022, and had to restock them not long after. In February we signed a lease on our storefront, and we had planned to open on a day very special to us. There were a couple people we have screenshots of those businesses being just despicable about our business and me personally out on social media who then requested to be a vendor for us.

That was a struggle. It was disrespectful, unprofessional, and frankly, really selfish. I also received some screenshots of someone I thought was a new friend, who I had trusted with what was going on with Aiden this year, accusing me of lying about her cancer and some other things. It really made me question a lot of my friendships, and over the spring I simply cut people out of our world. I decided to stop being the person to reach out first all the time, and only put in the energy that I was getting back. It was unsurprising how many friendships died quickly. 

As the date we had picked to open approached, the list of people I wanted to celebrate with was really short. The day we had picked was really petty. The goal had been to open on April 26th, 2022, a year to the day we had closed before. That felt like justice to us. It felt like vindication. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen. We had delay after delay on the construction. I continued to struggle with vengeance and justice and feeling like I was owed this moment of justice. I wanted to give the middle finger to everyone rooting for us to fail, and now that we are past it, I’m really glad that didn’t happen.

Over the time struggling with the construction, I was able to have long conversations with Nick and we came to some decisions. We had strayed from where we started, we had kept the heart of it, but we had strayed. I had allowed my desire for what I thought was justice to outweigh what Advancing Aiden was all about. 

This time, as we approach our opening day, we are approaching it as a team, equal partners. This time we are embracing the horrors we’ve been through, and instead of having a comeback, we are starting the next chapter. The parts of us, because it really was US, our whole family, that was damaged by what happened, are not being ignored, but they’re being celebrated. We are stronger than the drama. We are stronger than the hate, and we are still the chaotic, petty, fun team we always have been. 

So here’s the justice of it all. 

We are opening on June 3rd. Andrew’s Birthday. We are choosing to celebrate our family, we are choosing to celebrate what we can build together. We are choosing to embrace the broken parts of our journey, lean on each other, and accept that social media will never have the power to destroy our business, not when it has always been about Leaving a Legacy for our family, built with love, and made to withstand a lifetime. We can’t wait to welcome you into the store, and see what you can build with us.

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