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I had never had a girlfriend before.
I was young. Not young enough to be unemployed, broke, and homeless. But there I was. In New York City and I was all three of those.
Unemployed, broke, and homeless. Four if you count the no girlfriend part.
I had just spent a handful of years traveling around Europe as a fashion model. Early on I was working for some of the largest, most prestigious fashion designers in the world, yet for some reason I could never sustain that early success or make any money.
Beginner's luck I guess since it quickly turned into casting after casting and rejection after rejection.
Little did I know I was getting a PHD in the art of overcoming no that would come in handy later on starting Tree Lyfe.
While all this was going on my parents got divorced when I was in Spain and didn’t tell me about it and only a little while before I started traveling my neighbor who grew up at my house and was like my little brother was killed in a car accident by the time he was 18, after beating cancer twice before that.
The pain and rejection was adding up and adding up and adding up.
My life was unfolding the exact opposite way of what I had imagined.
I have come to understand that lack of confidence and low self esteem in yourself are two of the biggest obstacles in succeeding and being sustainably happy and I was the embodiment of both after all those years.
Interestingly through all that, there was always something inside me telling myself that I could do anything if I could just set my mind to it and put in the work. I just couldn’t figure out how to stop self sabotaging before I was able to get ahead.
So back to the part of my story when I’m homeless in New York.
I ended up having to crash on my friend’s couch.
I didn’t have enough money to get back home to Canada and my friend was pretty adamant on me staying in NYC so he let me stay with him.
I was lucky that we were like family at that point because staying with him changed my life forever.
On a night not long after, he invited a friend over who brought some of his friends. I was walking into the apartment building at the same time they were all arriving.
I still remember it vividly to this day.
The moment I saw one of his friends, I felt like I saw the woman I was going to spend my life with. There was this glow and charisma that she emanated. Her smile and laugh was contagious. I didn’t even say a word to her there, yet it was an incredible moment in my life.
We didn’t get to spend much time together that night since our friend groups somehow separated that night, but I reached out to her a couple days later and we went on our first date to a happy hour so it was within my non-existent budget.
It’s New York City so typically within the first minute she asks me, “what do you do?”
Ha nice icebreaker. I’m broke and homeless I’m thinking.
Even though I was constantly broke I was always trying to get some type of business started, at least in my head, so I said something along those lines. Minus the broke part, obviously.
After that first night we’ve been inseparable ever since. We just click in the most amazing way.
Within the first two weeks she knew I was homeless. I don’t think she knew how broke I was, but the homelessness and extreme cheapness were a pretty good indication.
We spent the next couple years being broke together living at her Mom’s house while trying to find a way to go from nothing to running a business together.
Because what’s a better idea than being broke, living at the in-laws and trying to start a business without any experience or money.
Against the odds, and our better judgement we’ve managed to go from broke and living with her Mom to a business that will generate over a million dollars in sales this year during the pandemic after only a couple years in operation.
This incredible woman always finds a way to get whatever she wants and I’m lucky to be the beneficiary.
Her ability to see through the cracks and believe in me more than I believed in myself has helped me grow in ways I never imagined. Early on in our relationship I remember waking up and looking in the mirror and feeling like I could do anything if I had her by my side.
It’s where our Stronger With You bracelet originated.
After years of self doubt and failure after failure never in a million years did I anticipate my first relationship to begin when I was completely broke and homeless, but I had finally found the one missing piece I needed in my life to make it complete and it was the woman I would go on to marry.
It just goes to show, if you believe in each other and are there to support one another through the ups and downs you can accomplish things you’d never thought possible.
- Matthew Coatsworth, Co-Founder of Tree Lyfe
Pictured above is my incredible wife, Jessica. She is the inspiration for each bracelet we release and has been the driving force behind Tree Lyfe from inception.