Why Getting Laid Off Kickstarted My True Career!

By Kathryn Selby

Over a year ago I experienced one of the biggest blows to my ego – I got laid off. There were so many things that ran through my mind that March morning. My feelings went back and forth between anger and sadness, But my underlying thought was, “I AM PISSED OFF.” I am a hard worker, I pour my heart and soul into my job – always have, always will.

At the time of this “dismissal”, I was helping a new start-up build a corporate sales program. When the news came that they no longer needed me, it hurt deep into my soul. After that pronouncement, I walked into my house and tearfully said to my husband, “I got laid off, I don’t have a job anymore.” I expected him to say “There, there, it will be alright.”

But, and this was a biggie, he told me, “This is the best thing that ever happened to you.” I definitely did not believe him at the time – but it was.

The next day, I woke up, went for a run and dove into what was next. I told myself I had until January 1, 2018 to have a successful entrepreneurial business. It was that or go back to the grind of a nine-to-five lifestyle.

Spoiler alert: it’s been over a year and I met my goal with my company Selby New York — I cannot imagine going back to the office environment. I would love to say that, boom, day one I was doing exactly what I liked and what I was good at, but that was not the case.

Initially I just needed to make money and pay the bills (you know, adult stuff.) So with a list of my contacts and years of relationships, I now needed to figure out what to sell. I started my company as a wholesale representation firm, working to get brands into stores and corporate accounts.

As time went on, I began to focus more and more on corporate sales, which is my true expertise. A few things I knew going in:

  • It needed to be a great product, something unique if I was going to represent it.
  • I did not want to be limited to one product, I wanted to be a one-stop shop.
  • I hardly ever, say “No” (good and bad, mostly good!)


It was not until I was working with a client that my regular representation business turned into a design firm creating bespoke merchandise and SWAG for companies, brands and individuals. They asked, “Can you do a sweatshirt, flip flops, beach towel in addition to the brand name items you’re already providing?” And of course, the answer was, “YES I CAN!”

I knew the logistical steps to take: I got a resale license and signed up for a Square account to get my company “up and running”. I gave my client everything they needed for a camp themed event in upstate NY. Due to saying “yes”, I have continued to work with this client creating gifts for their amazing sales retreats as well as the famous Cannes Lions event in the South of France.

My clients now range from media companies to dating apps. Every day is exciting, unique and creative. I develop unique merchandise for a wide variety of end users! My advice to anyone questioning whether to “take the leap” is if you can, DO IT!


  • Say YES!
  • Do your research.
  • Network.
  • List your strengths.
  • Go after your dream!

Make sure you give it everything you’ve got. That way you never look back thinking, ”What if?”

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