Behind the Chameleons: Tena Crock

Behind the Chameleons: Tena Crock

In an attempt to channel my inner Sophia Petrella (Google it kids), “Picture it, it’s 2017.  A young woman, not yet 40 years old, is the Vice President of ECommerce and Digital Marketing at a 25 year old toy manufacturer overseeing a team of 20+ people.  Her husband is a stay-at-home parent to their only son, who will be starting kindergarten that fall”.  

This was my life.  I had achieved my professional goals to become a Director before 30 and a VP before 40.  My husband had our house in order and was taking wonderful care of our son.  I had climbed the corporate ladder, shattering some glass ceilings, as intended.  Why wasn’t I happy and fulfilled?

It was time for soul searching and to put things into perspective; time to get over myself and focus on what was truly important.  I had been given the gift of perspective during my pregnancy with my son, but chose to keep it tucked away, unopened, my mind preoccupied with work.

What was this gift of perspective you ask?  Life can change in an instant, none of us are promised tomorrow.  We’ve all heard this before, but I certainly believe that cliches remain cliches, until you have the life experience to apply them.  This gift was handed to me on March 5th, 2011 at my 20 week pregnancy ultrasound when we learned that our son would be born with a complex congenital heart defect.

The background and details of how this unfolded, could fill a book, but I will share that we had our boy on July 21st 2011.  He has undergone four open heart surgeries, the most recent in 2015, allowing him the best chance of a “normal life”, until it begins to fail.  That could happen 3, 5, 10, 15, or 20 years down the road.

Following that surgery, I was forced to contemplate how I was spending my time.  It wasn’t as a mother or a wife.  Rather, it was being a dutiful employee and breadwinner for my family.  Even writing that now makes me cringe.  Once I saw this, and finally opened up this gift of perspective, decisions of how to spend my time came a lot more easily.  

I resigned from my job and made new goals for myself that included:

  • Working on self through therapy, alternative healing methods – anything that would make me a better Mom 
  • Opening up an ECommerce consulting practice to ensure we had money coming in the door; but one where I could control my own hours and time

By the fall of 2017, I established my business, had my first clients, and joined Chameleon Collective.  My son started kindergarten.  In this setup, I was able to work 15 – 20 hours per week, and still be a volunteer at the school, a field trip Mom, and able to take our dog for mid-afternoon walks.  

Even with the gift of perspective my type A-ness didn’t disappear, and I felt a calling to do more.  This time, however, I knew that if I were going to take on more, I had to prioritize my time more wisely.  I made some commitments to myself.  I would:

  1. Prioritize my family whenever the opportunity arises 
  2. Grow my ECommerce consultancy, adding on a consumer experience focus – imperative to the success of online selling 
  3. Fundraise for congenital heart defect (CHD) research in a more formalized capacity
  4. Share “woo woo” concepts I had learned through my healing journey and bring them to the masses with science backed data

In 2018, my husband and I opened Centerpeace Yoga Therapy and Wellness here in our hometown of Kent, Ohio.  We offer yoga, massage therapy, reiki, acupuncture, infrared sauna, hypnotherapy, EFT tapping, and wellness education.  COVID-19 has changed the way we operate and we are now finding more ways to spread the “woo woo” in an accessible way with an online focus.

Since 2015, we have raised close to $50,000 in support of The Saving tiny Hearts Society (StHS); an organization that funds grass roots research efforts to further the treatment of CHD research.  In early 2020, we established an official 501c organization, M4M (DBA as Miles 4 Myles).  In 2021 and beyond, we will continue raising money for StHS, plus amazing organizations that have helped our family to feel normal including Make-A-Wish and Flying Horse Farms, a Paul Newman founded magical camp, aimed at allowing “kids to be kids”.

My consultancy practice through Chameleon Collective has picked up, following a slump in the first few months of the pandemic.  2020 highlighted a big opportunity for brand manufacturers to understand that ECommerce isn’t just a “sales channel’ and that Digital Marketing is not just a “marketing channel”.  Rather, these are foundational elements to a brand manufacturer’s strategy and critical to growth and scale.  I’m so happy to be helping my clients assess their current position in all areas related to success in selling Direct-to-Consumer, while providing detailed prioritized efforts for execution.  

Most importantly, by having control of how I spend my time and energy, most days I have more than enough to allow myself to be a Mom and Wife while honoring my own health and wellness.  

We have continued with online school for our son that is integrated with in-person students.  He is thriving.   My husband and I both run our businesses out of the house and have recently pivoted our wellness center to more of an online focus and co-op model for in-person services (a win-win-win for all).  I am enjoying my gift of perspective.  

Regardless of where life takes us, I know I will always be appreciative of this time with my family.  “Man, I wish I would have spent less time with those people I love and cherish,” said NO ONE EVER.

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Tena Crock

A strategic advisor and thought leader focused on E-Commerce and Consumer Experience, Tena's clients include Singer Sewing Machines, MGAE Little Tikes, and Step2.

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