Monkeys, Maths and Merchants

Posted by Gabrielle Melchionda on

Gab's path to get to where she is today

I'm not a big believer in a straight path. To anything. When I cook, I make a pretty impressive mess (which I believe plays into how tasty a meal is). If I'm driving somewhere, I don't mind meandering and finding my way. The good stuff can be waiting in all the nooks and crannies we may not see if we're so focused on the path ahead. That's how I see it, anyway.

When I share the story of how Mad Gab's came to be, I inevitably explain that it started with a failed math class. If I'm talking to kids, I purposely tell them I was so traumatized by my inability to grasp concepts of decimals and fractions, that I swore at an early age to never need math skills (or science, for that matter) as an adult. I was good at enough other subjects it seemed like a reasonable plan. If you can call it that.  

I studied anthropology at UMass, Amherst, which not-so-coincidentally was in my hometown. I can't remember where I applied to college, or where I got in/rejected, but somehow I landed about 4 miles from my childhood home, living in a dorm and declaring the same major my mother had been pursuing since I went to pre-school. (Another great story, for another time.)

My math-trauma followed me to college, resulting in an F my freshman year in one of two mandatory math requirements. It turns out consistent absences, and showing up only to fail the dreaded multiple choice exams was not something I could apply my last-minute-brilliance to. That F was hard to shake GPA-wise, but I had taken three college courses while still in High School, (and gotten A's), the only thing saving me from academic probation heading into my sophomore year. 

By junior year, I discovered that in order to graduate I needed to re-take (and pass) Freshman math. I decided that a January intensive class would be the ticket. Three weeks of math 8am-12pm in the dead of cold New England winter. It paled in comparison to past Januaries when I was blissfully homework free and frolicked to random corners of the world like Hawai'i and France. 

I made a deal with myself. If I had to take this dreaded math class, I would also do something fun and light simultaneously. Having never thought about what I might do with my anthropology degree, my only career goals were: "No boss. no cubicle, no panty hose" (It was the 90's).  I barely dabbled with direction, but having recently discovered I enjoyed getting massages at a local clinic for students, I toyed with the idea that maybe that was my calling. I signed up for a workshop that met weekly during January, to offset some of the 'mathness'.

Very quickly, I learned my love of massage was on the receiving end only, and I had little to no interest in massaging these other perfectly nice people. The instructor had brought in a pile of healthy-living books, cookbooks, etc., and one of them was a DIY body care book. I flipped through and skipped over horseradish-nasal rinse recipes, toe soaks until landed on a recipe for lip balm. Hmm...I wrote down the recipe on an index card and tucked it in my jeans. 

And just like that, there was no turning back. 



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  • Your coconut lime is absolutely the finest lip balm I have ever used. Now I can’t live without it. I panicked when I couldn’t buy it any more at my local store. So glad that I can buy it online. Keep up the good work!

    Donna Young on

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