ASHA 2022 - More than Just a Convention
In two weeks I'm set to board a plane to New Orleans and run The Speak Boutique's very first booth at a convention. The convention is at ASHA no less, our field's largest annual conference in North America. It's a huge milestone for The Speak Boutique as a company, and for me as a Speech-Language Pathologist. What is most meaningful for me this convention is that I'll be going with my dad - Arik. So, this blog is going to be a little more personal than most.
My parents grew up in Ukraine and fled the former USSR as Jewish refugees in the mid 1970's. My young mom and dad left to brave the unknown at great risk to themselves - unsure whether they would ever see their families again. They didn't know it yet, but they would relocate two more times in their lives to new countries in new continents. Their first home after the former Soviet Union was Jerusalem, Israel - where I was born. We then moved to Johannesburg, South Africa (enter my baby brother) when my dad took on an engineering job opportunity. There, my mom completed her PhD in musicology and taught piano from our home. My dad eventually opened his first business - Marika Products in the wholesale aesthetics industry. I have many childhood memories accompanying him to buy product components at the electronics store in downtown Joburg, after which he'd treat us to chocolate croissants (pain au chocolat) from a nearby bakery.
In the early 90's, the situation in South Africa became extremely dangerous. Our house was robbed at gunpoint, and my parents were compelled to pack and start from scratch again. This time - with two kids in tow - they headed to Toronto, Canada. Here my mom supported our newly arrived family by teaching piano, and when my dad couldn't find work due to the recession, he again started his own business - Natali Products. My brother and I grew up in my parents' businesses. We handed out promotional flyers before e-mail was a thing, we spend hours stuffing and sealing envelopes, doing data entry in boxy computers, and tagging along to my dad's local conventions and my mom's students' recitals.
By the time my mom retired, she had taught countless sonatas, authored a multitude of articles and published two scholarly books. My dad's business overcame extremely challenging periods and steadily grew. When he sold the business in 2017, Natali Products had numerous employees and its products supplied many salons in the city and across Canada.
Though the speech-language pathology side of The Speak Boutique is a reflection of my passion for my profession, the rest is infused with my parents' influence and inspiration. As a home-based pediatric clinician and author, there are many parallels in my work life and that of my mom's. In 2020 when the product side of the business launched, I took a baby step into my dad's big footsteps. My parents have championed my endeavors for as long as I can remember. For me, having a booth at ASHA represents a culmination of the opportunities I have had thanks to their courage and sacrifices. To have my dad - aka my hero, ally, business advisor and greatest cheerleader - standing with me in booth 1225 means the world.
P.S. Papa - after work, we'll be sure to stop at a local bakery, I believe some great beignets are waiting for us.
Thank you Roby and Raya for your warm wishes!
Thank you for posting your story. It is inspirational, as are you. Good luck with this most exciting next step and have fun! Will stay tuned.
This is a warm and thoughtful post. A wonderful story. It deserves to be written in greater detail. Well done to you and your parents. You deserve a huge praise. Good luck.