“It was a happy accident,” Meg Glasgow says of the trans-Atlantic relocation that landed her in an apprenticeship that eventually bloomed to a thriving business.
The happy accident seems fitting for a young woman who left home at 17 and became a military wife. Her dad worked as a cabinet maker and the young Meg grew up surrounded by textiles.
When many of her peers marched off to college, Glasgow didn’t have the resources to go, but she already held an entrepreneurial spirit, a drive to find opportunity where options remained sparse, and a willingness to take big risks.
“I left my home, my family, my high school,” Glasgow said of the big leap that landed her in Portugal where her husband was stationed with the military.
Glasgow didn’t find a lot of opportunity for military wives in Portugal. Jobs remained scarce at the time, especially for women and especially for military wives. But that didn’t matter to Glasgow. She carved out her own opportunity in a foreign country and went to work as an apprentice at a frame shop. She worked for free for three years before returning to the states.
“I saved my money and with an entrepreneurial spirit looked at college,” Glasgow says.
But college remained financially out of reach for Glasgow so she put the skills she gained as an apprentice to work. Her career story could have ended there, but in 1999 the same spirit that led her to an apprenticeship in a Portuguese frame shop motivated her to go out on her own and open her store.
“It was scary but in an exhilarating way. It kept me up at night,” she says. “But I knew I had to succeed. I knew I couldn’t fail.”
Along the way Glasgow heard from naysayers who said she couldn’t make it, who said she took on too much, who said her business couldn’t possibly succeed. Glasgow’s entrepreneurial spirit combined with a new drive to prove those naysayers wrong. She took the leap, opened her own business and confronted challenges, one after the other.
“The biggest (challenge)? I have to pick just one?” she asks.
She recalls bringing her young and sometimes sick daughter to the frame shop during its early days.
“No sick days, no work, no paycheck,” she says.
Glasgow kept the paychecks rolling in and four years after starting her framing business, Glasgow earned the distinction of top frame shop in America by Décor Magazine. Two years later, she published her first book: Meg on Marketing: A Small Business Guide to Success.
The solo enterprise and the big risks that came with it gave Glasgow a heap of lessons that she now passes down to her 22-year-old daughter who is about to earn a degree of her own. Life at the frame shop taught Glasgow to maintain focus, savor triumphs and maintain balance, she says.
“Moments are lost if you work all the time,” Meg says. “I realize I can have everything – I just can’t have it all at once.”