We had the good fortune of connecting with Leda Kay and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Leda, what’s the most difficult decision you’ve ever had to make?
The Decision That Changed My Life Forever
In 2019 I became an unexpected full-time entrepreneur. You read that right! Unexpected.
Don’t get me wrong, this was something I wanted my whole life. I had a year-old business and was excited to one day be a full-time entrepreneur. But not unexpectantly though. If I had it my way, I would have walked out of my job gracefully, chest held high, music playing in the background, and doves released in the air. Unfortunately, I did not have the fairytale farewell that I have always dreamt of. Instead, I was faced with a decision that would either save my life or damage my spirit and reputation forever.
I was a full-time supervisor making almost six figures at a severely understaffed hospital. Most days started at 5 am and did not end until 8 in the evening. Now, this may seem typical for those in similar situations, but let’s throw in working on holidays, weekends, and covering for staff when they called out, which was every other week. Ugh!
Listen, I was one person doing the job of 4. My job, the two other fellow supervisor’s jobs, and my manager’s job. Yup! That part! Y’all, I was being overworked, overlooked, and taken advantage of. Straight-up abused in the workplace.
After months of complaining to my husband about this unstable and toxic environment, I found myself in my therapist’s office, crying uncontrollably. I completely broke down. In all honesty, this was my second time losing my shit that day, but who’s counting.
With tears streaming down my face, I pulled tissue after tissue to help stop the waterfall coming from my nostrils. I was a whole mess. Amid my emotional whirlwind, my therapist’s advice that day triggered something in me.
She said, “Leda, you are past the point of successfully using coping mechanisms or even setting boundaries. They will not work for you. I need you to understand that you are in the last stage of employee burnout. It’s no longer safe for you to stay at this job.”
I thought I would be relieved hearing these words from a mental health professional, but instead, her words brought on even more anxiety. “What about my husband? He would be pissed if I just up and quit. What about our financial goals? I can’t take away an entire income just like that!”
Don’t get me wrong, my husband is a sweetheart. He is also “the man with thee plan.” Seriously, every decision requires a plan with this man. But let us think about that for a bit. Planning takes time; time my therapist insinuated that I did not have. In turn, I would have to suffer longer to plan and execute an exit strategy. Plot twist. I did not have time or the mental/emotional capacity to plan.
She said it again, “It’s no longer safe for you to stay at this job.”
I knew what employee burnout was and I thought I would be able to recognize the symptoms for myself, but I guess not. She was right though; I was too far gone. I cried getting out of the bed each morning. My morning commute was filled with inspirational gospel music to help me cope, but the closer I got to work I could feel my heart palpitating, my breath getting shallow, and my palms would begin to sweat. I was so stressed; I could not focus on the work. I began missing deadlines and became short fused, annoyed, and impatient with my coworkers on a regular. This was not me! I did not recognize the person I had become.
Her words rang in my head for about a month. “It’s no longer safe for you to stay at this job.” It played over, and over like a broken record. I not only felt the pressure at work but also at home. I had a choice to make. Do I stay and continue down the stressful path to uphold this illusion of stability while jeopardizing my health and reputation or do I resign, let go, and go elsewhere?
It was a no-brainer for me. It was time to go. In that same month, I truly attempted to plan an exit strategy. I applied to other jobs religiously, but I think the universe had another plan. I would go on interviews and never get called back. And not to mention, the abuse in the workplace did not let up either. I hit a breaking point my therapist tried to help me avoid in the past. I had had enough. I quit. I let go. I chose my health over a job. No two weeks’ notice; just an immediate resignation. December 19, 2019, I wrote an email stating that December 20, 2019, would be my last day. I chose me!
I know this sounds hella inspirational, but I gotta keep it real. After I resigned, I thought it would be easy to just pick up another job, but it was not. I was warped psychologically and emotionally. I developed trust issues and anxiety with the workforce. Applying to jobs brought on distress I felt like I would never come back from. For months, I walked on pins and needles in my own home; afraid that my husband would resent me for saving my life but uprooting ours. For the first time in my life, I was disappointed with myself.
The first couple of months being home, I had recurring nightmares of me still being abused at work. In the dream, I can remember continuous loads of paperwork being dropped in my lap as I was trying to save lives. I would try to speak up for myself, but no words would come out. I was traumatized. I was completely burnt out.
It took me three months to recover from severe employee burnout. A whole 90 days y’all! It may seem like a long time, but every day was worth it. My recovery process included therapy, journaling, long walks by myself, reading, and podcasting. This was a journey to help me rediscover myself; to help me put the pieces of me back together. “Who are you now? Will you ever be able to forgive yourself? What kind of wife does this make you?” I asked myself questions like these on a daily. Somedays I would have answers, but other days…silence.
But I found peace and solace in the one thing the universe gave me before all the chaos. GNTLE – my business. Before the mayhem, my business was just a side hustle; just something to do. But after recover and even today, I now understand that GNTLE was part of my purpose all along. Educating women about our bodies not only empowered them, but it was and is therapeutic for me.
I became the boss I have always wanted. My entrepreneurial work environment is free of toxicity, and it is set up to help me win emotionally, and mentally every day. I can be my authentic self! The women in my brand community are supportive and honest; I never have to guess with them. And my business partner, my husband is the most supportive of them all. We have never been closer. The communication, support, and respect we have for one another are on a totally different level!
So yes! I risked my job, stability, and money to have peace, health, and prosperity. Taking the risk to quit my job and uproot my home life has changed me, my marriage, and my business for the better. If I had to do it all again, I would not change a single thing.
The Unexpected Full-time Entrepreneur
Owner & Creator of GNTLE
If you think you are experiencing employee burnout, please seek help/counsel immediately to get your questions answered.
What should our readers know about your business?
GNTLE is an all-natural personal hygiene company created by yours truly. I created GNTLE as a response to my own struggles with recurring vaginal issues. My ladies know what I mean. I started by using my scientific background and created my own feminine wash. I thought it would be easy to sell this to women but I was so wrong.
I first had to figure out how to dismantle the stigma and “taboo-ness” of us (women) talking about, exploring, and learning about our bodies, and I realized education was the key. I did it through continuous education on all topics of womanhood. Topics our moms and schools didn’t or couldn’t teach us.
How did I do this? I created a live streaming segment on Instagram called Girl Talk Tuesday. This is a safe space I created for women of all backgrounds to come and talk WOMANHOOD. We laugh, cry, and learn together every Tuesday night at 8pm EST. It doesn’t matter if one person shows up or 50 show up, I made a commitment to myself and these women to help make conversations about our bodies and experiences a natural/organic conversation.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I don’t live in LA, however, I have family there so this helps. I guess my idea of a great time with my bestie would include, food, relaxation, and getting outside.
We would drive to Manhattan Beach for breakfast/brunch and head over to Uncle Bill’s Pancake House. The best pancakes and waffles I’ve had in LA.
We would then have some fun at the beach for a while. Maybe layout and relax. Oh yes, the Santa Monica Pier gives a great view of the city. So we would definitely go there.
Of course, pick a few of the hundreds of hiking trails and enjoy the outdoors. Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I want to give a shoutout to my husband Mike for sticking with me during my transition into entrepreneurial life. I know it wasn’t what we planned but you stayed by my side rooting me on the entire time.
Studio Funtography by Crystale