Born in the heyday in Detroit, Harriet went to the top 10 high school in Detroit among states and graduated with good grades. She then got into a liberal arts college in New England area. She said she loves the peaceful town: few visitors, nice weather, near the sea. At the time when she graduated as environmental science and education major, Detroit was at its hardest time. Like many young people at that period, she did not want to get back to Detroit. She wanted to stay away from the abandoned city. But it seemed that fate had played a trick when she could not find a full time paid job in environment industry in the town. “I need money, you know, even though I hated, I had to go back to live with my parents in Detroit for a while.” She said. Destiny took a hand. Harriet went back to Detroit, found a job in environmental solution department in Comerica Bank and stayed here since then.
“I didn't like the city very much at that time.” She laughed and took me back the old times.
She first got into consulting department helping her clients analyze environmental impact of their companies. Even though she was in bank, she still focused on the area she is interested in. Then she moved to a consulting company, working for those high-end company to increase their sustainability during operation; However, things did not go as she predicted. “I really wanted to help the big companies to pay more attention to environmental impact but I realized that the ship is too big to direct” Harriet said to me. She is the person wants to do things while her clients only wanted good public image. The too-big-to-direct ship made her upset for a long time. Then, by a random chance, she knew the Thursday Sustainability Table in Green Garage organized by owner Tom and his wife. She participated several times and then decided to become a residence here and started her own sustainability consulting business.
“Starting your own business means more responsibility, but it also means that you can direct the ship” Harriet said. She thinks the prosperous startup culture in Detroit can attract population to move back and helped the city renew itself. Entrepreneurship to her is another different lifestyle from job in bank and big consulting groups. She meets many small businesses and helped them to grow their sustainability business. After seeing her clients grow larger, she feels more satisfied than ever.
When I asked what’s her suggestion to young entrepreneurs, she said “Have a balance in your life since it's harder now to separate your life from work as you start you own business, but it’s very important to keep your life in a sustainable way.”
Many women at her age would retire at home and enjoy the life after working, but Harriet is still eager to update herself to keep pace with this world. She holds Thursday Table in Green Garage, helps to organize roof garden in Green Garage, volunteer in the front desk and keep her business going at the same time.
When I closed the notebook and gave her a big hug after our talk, I felt the power and strength from her which is tiny but consistent as well, just like each small startup connecting together to assert huge impact to our society.