"I'm an entrepreneur... and it has taken me a few years to be able to say that without the emotional guilt. My path to starting a business wasn't a normal one. I didn't have a big idea that kept me up at night nor was there a "problem I was trying to solve". I grew up in a small business family and certainly saw the hard work that went into starting and growing a business but for whatever reason, I didn't have a burning desire to start a business of my own."
"My "why" starts with cancer and ends with my own personal journey of realizing I am exactly where the universe intended me to be... but with perhaps the path that I hadn't foreseen. In 2013, I lost a younger brother to Leukemia and that "life event" pulled me back to Rhode Island and into my family's jewelry manufacturing business (the same one I swore I wouldn't get involved in!). I was mad at cancer and funneled all of my energy towards the tangible thing that my brother wanted a chance at - to be able to rebuild my families jewelry manufacturing business. I was 34 years old, uprooted my family, moved back to Rhode Island, took an 80% pay cut, and - in hindsight - had no idea what the hell I was doing. Through that process, I discovered hidden talents (who knew I enjoyed jewelry design), found a love for manufacturing (Born in the USA!), learned how to become a better leader, and surrounded myself with an amazing team that made my vision their own. Fueled by my brother's passion, the many chapters over the past few years have transformed his ideas into my vision, which has all been made possible with the help of my amazing L+D team and our (whoop whoop) rock star L+D community."
"Today I share a letter to my brother that started all of this. It's written in November 2012, when we knew his cancer was likely terminal. I've never shared this letter publicly as I've always struggled with the emotions (and guilt) of a successful brand that I wish he was building instead of me. Today, I turn the page and go to the next chapter, fueled by an acceptance that he's put me in the exact position that he wanted me to be in (and a realization that it's okay to be here.)"
(Email from Nov. 2012 - written at 2am to my brother fighting for his life)
Subject: To my brother...
I've spent the last few weeks thinking about writing this to you and given the emotions over the past two days, I've finally gathered the courage to put my thoughts into words...
We have certainly witnessed our share of ups and downs in our relationship but through it all, I have always felt that we have shared a special bond that only brothers can share. In every aspect of my life, you have always been 100% supportive of me: my biggest fan during the good times and the one to pick me up during the low points. No matter what we've been through or how our opinions may have differed, you have always stood by me 100% of the time. For that, I am more grateful than you will ever know.
I look back over the past year and I try to put things into perspective. I don't think any of us will ever move on from asking the "why" question and it's increasingly hard to have faith when the people you love are impacted the most. During the "twists and turns of life", this certainly turned out to be a roadblock that none of us ever expected. But through all of the hard times that you've faced over the last 11 months, I want you to focus on the impact you've made. You've brought this family together in a way that only you could. No one else could have made the impact that you have made, and you need to continue to fight because you're the glue that holds this family together. Your courage and determination have been a gut wrenching, awe-inspiring thing to watch and I can't tell you how much respect and admiration all of us have for you. You continue to define the real meaning of life and the things that are truly most important for all of us: family, love, compassion, and the will to live every day to the absolute fullest. During those dark times, I ask you to take a moment to reflect on what and who you're fighting for.
I can't tell you what the future will bring or how the road that you're going to continue to travel down works out in the end - it seems like nothing has gone according to plan so far and one should expect the unexpected going forward. The only thing I do know is that it is not going to be easy and there will be many times when you want to give up. That's understandable, especially given that none of us can fully comprehend the hell you've been through. But know this.... we’ve never given up and the harder this cancer fights, the harder we will fight, together. We're not letting you give up - you're too important to this family and you're too important to me. You see, friends come and go but I only have one brother and the bond that we have built up over a lifetime is something that I don't have the strength to rebuild. There are many things that you and I have to do in this world and its not nearly as fun doing them alone, so make sure that I have my partner in crime with me!
I look back on our lives and there have been so many great times together: playing sports, boating in the summer, the high school years, nights out in Manhattan / Vegas. We've always been competitive and while that competitiveness has caused us to make some brash decisions (in hindsight, of course!), we've always shared a mutual respect and love for one another that only brothers can have. You're my rock and you know how bad I am without my support network! I look forward to the things we can, and must do, together. I need you here to help raise Luca and Stella - I don't want to do this alone. And someday, you're going to start a family of your own so we can go through this adventure together. This journey together is far from over - during those dark moments, please remember this and continue to fight on.
I ask you, as a brother, to live, love and laugh every day. Through the good times and the bad, I will be here to support you every step of the way. And while I wish this was a battle that I could fight for you, remember that I think of your struggles every waking moment. You are truly an inspiration to me and in my heart, I know that brighter days lay ahead.
Fred, Founder of Luca + Danni