Second Life

An entrepreneur learns it's never too late to right a wrong and pursue a passion

Doreen Motton says she knows how it feels to hit rock bottom: It hurts. Feelings of inadequacy helped fuel a 20-year alcohol and drug addiction. “To hide and suppress my feelings, I’d go to the bar or indulge in substances,” admits Motton, who decided in 1996 that enough was enough. “I realized the only thing holding me back was me. I decided to rebuild my life.”

Today, with nearly 11 years of sobriety under her belt, Motton is a newly christened entrepreneur. Of course, the 52-year-old stresses that her transformation did not happen overnight.

Motton says she had a lifetime struggle to quiet an inner belief stemming from childhood that she “just wasn’t good enough.” She turned to drugs and alcohol in college to cope, but recreational use developed into a lengthy battle, with her life slowly spiraling out of control. “I always had a job, traveled the world, and I was good at communicating with people,” says Motton on hiding her indiscretions. “As a user you learn how to become very manipulative.” But once close family members discovered her addiction, Motton says she felt “it was almost a relief.” “Those were extremely dark times in my life. It’s only by the grace of God that I’m still here,” she adds.

In April of 1997, Motton checked herself into a rehabilitation center, and after a year of intense therapy, she emerged with a new perspective.

By 2001, the 30-year sales and marketing veteran, had landed what appeared to be a dream job as a vice president of marketing at a major financial services firm in New York. But the demands of the position left the single mom feeling besieged and unhappy. “I felt robotic and mechanical,” she says. “I didn’t really feel that I had a purpose. And after all that I had been through in my life, there had to be a deeper meaning for me.”

Motton left her lucrative financial career in early 2007 and with $10,000 in personal savings launched Neero & Ana Inc.– named in part after her 16-year-old son, Dana. The New York-based company (started in 2004 as a part-time venture) specializes in organic satin products for men and women, including a line of signature satin pillowcases — a favorite of actresses Kerry Washington and Kimberly Elise. “Taking the risk to own a business was nothing compared to the risk that I took with my addiction,” Motton admits.

Last year, the company saw gross revenues of nearly $400,000, and expects partnerships with hotel chains, dermatologists, cosmetic surgeons, and charitable organizations to help revenues swell to more than $1 million this year. “This solidifies what I think of myself,” Motton says, “that I am valuable and that I can be everything that I want to be.”

B.E.’S SUCCESSPERT SPEAKS:

E. Carol Webster, a licensed psychologist and author of Success Management: How To Get To the Top and Keep Your Sanity Once You Get There, offers these action-steps to address addictive behavior:

Get help. A licensed mental healthcare provider can identify and  treat co-occurring disorders, which may be the catalyst of an addiction. Options such as 12-step programs are free and offer 24-hour group support in cities worldwide.

Reassess everything. During your recovery, take time to reflect on inward and outward issues influencing your behavior. Shoot for better balance. Also, don’t be afraid to completely shift gears if necessary. The people you’re around, places you frequent, and things you’re involved in all influence your actions, so examine your life and priorities — choose wisely.

This story originally appeared in the June 2008 issue of Black Enterprise magazine.

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