Congratulations to Jaclyn O’Brien, owner of KeyLyme, and congrats again!
1. Tell us your story of how your company got to where it is today?
It all started when my dog, Rex, and I were bit by a tick and didn’t know it. At first, I felt a little off, but about 6 months still dealing with these “minor” issues and suddenly I started to experience some pretty severe and startling symptoms – extreme joint and muscle pain, double vision, vertigo, numbness in my arms and legs, bells palsy, anxiety, cognitive impairment, memory issues and the list goes on.
The next 10 months were a roller coaster and I thought my life was spinning out of control. I saw over 10 different doctors and ended up in the ER several times. All of these doctors were telling me I was perfectly healthy and that nothing was wrong. I sought out a therapist because I thought I was going crazy. She steered me toward a Lyme-literate doctor, and after the right testing, the results confirmed that all of this craziness really was because of Lyme disease.
It was such a relief and a weight off my shoulders to finally have an answer and path to recovery. After finding the right doctors, the right treatment plan, and a change in diet and lifestyle, I’m back to my normal self. I am one of the lucky ones though because I know many people go undiagnosed, are misdiagnosed, or get diagnosed too late and struggle with chronic Lyme their whole lives.
Even though I was going through this struggle, I knew there was a reason behind the madness and that God had a plan. I had a very vivid dream that solidified my path and purpose in life, which is to help people struggling with Lyme and to become an advocate for the disease so that no one has to go through the struggle I did or that I’ve seen in the Lyme community.
2. What would it mean to you and your company to win a Small Business Award?
Being selected as a finalist was very surprising and exciting all at the same time! And with the risk of sounding cliché, I wholeheartedly believe all of the finalists are truly winners because they’ve made it to this point and I feel privileged to be among all of them.
One day, I would love to have contributed to the rise of Lyme disease awareness and make it as big as breast cancer awareness. To me, the award is not about KeyLyme or myself, but it’s about spreading a message to all those struggling. It’s about the need to advocate, educate, inspire and empower the community about something that is so prevalent in our very own backyard. To give a message of hope and let people know they are not alone. If we can raise more awareness and direct people to the right resources, then we are one step closer to making a difference in someone’s life.
3. If you weren’t running your own business/working at this business, what would you be doing?
When I’m not working on KeyLyme, I’m focusing on my other company and helping small businesses with their small business. So, it feels like I’m always working! But, I wouldn’t have it any other way because I am very fortunate to have the ability to focus on two businesses that I love and am extremely passionate about.
But, if I weren’t running the businesses, then I would travel the world! I’m making it a goal of mine to visit a different place that I haven’t visited at least once a year… it may just be driving to WV to hike a mountain that I’ve never seen before, but at least it’s a start! One day, I plan to make my dream of traveling the world a reality so I can become immersed in other cultures and view the world from a different perspective.
4. What book are you reading right now?
I just finished the book “The Go-Given Leader”, which is was an awesome read that a friend of mine gave me. My bookshelf is overflowing with books that it’s hard to pick a favorite. I love reading self-development books because I always have something new to learn.
5. If you have 24-hours off, and your family was out of town, what would you do?
I would most likely catch-up on sleep and organize my house! I should really called Lisa with Organizing Mentors 😉
6. What is the smallest thing that has made the largest impact on your business?
I would say the smallest thing that has made the largest impact on the business is staying connected to social media and understanding the concerns of the community about Lyme.
There have been so many posts with questions about Lyme such as where to go and what to do. This not only includes those struggling with chronic Lyme, but also those who don’t know anything about Lyme other than “ticks are bad”. People are looking for resources.
Social media, while not necessarily small, makes the largest impact because it connects me to the community, their concerns, and struggles, which inspires me to continue moving forward even when I lose steam.
7. What did you want to be when you grew up as a child? / What was a childhood dream that you had?
I always wanted to be a performer, just like Beyonce! 😉 When I was little, I would practice dancing and singing in my room. But, and here’s the infamous but, the fact that I can’t carry a tune didn’t help me to pursue that dream!
8. Who is the one person that has influenced you the most in your career?
When I attended the QuickBooks Conference a couple of years ago, they didn’t know it, but the keynote speakers were inspiring me to launch KeyLyme, particularly Oprah’s closing keynote presentation. I can’t express to you how much of an impact Oprah’s keynote has made in my life and my career!
One of the core messages I took away from Oprah’s keynote was that nothing can stop you from reaching your dreams when your vision, passion, and purpose have good intentions and will be used to better the world in some way. The universe will align and everything will naturally align and fall into place. Oprah’s presentation inspired me to start my venture to educate the community about Lyme disease, and to advocate, inspire and empower people to realize they have the keys to their own health.
9. What is your favorite thing about running a business in Loudoun County?
It’s awesome to live and work in a community where there are so many thriving small businesses. I love the camaraderie between all of the businesses and how people truly want to help each other succeed and grow as individuals and business owners. I also feel extremely fortunate that I am able to utilize my skills and experiences to help others in the community both personally and professionally.
10. If you’re not in the office where can we find you?
When I’m not in the office, you’ll probably find me either at yoga, spending time with my friends, hiking through the trails, or volunteering. Or, you may find me at one of the golf courses with my boyfriend. I think he’s trying to turn me into a pro-golfer (that could take a while!).
11. What is your favorite weekend activity in Loudoun County?
My favorite thing to do on the weekend is to drive into Western Loudoun to enjoy the scenery and either go for a hike or visit one of the local wineries. Visit Loudoun does an awesome job at keeping up with all of the events, restaurants, wineries/ breweries and things to do in the area!
Congratulations to Jaclyn O’Brien, owner of KeyLyme, and congrats again!