Fifteen years ago, in the basement of a small townhouse in Rockland County, New York, 6 months before the day of his wedding, Eric Koby made a decision. He made a decision that most rational, conventional people, myself included, would consider crazy.
I came through the door of that townhouse after a long day of teaching World History at Spring Valley High School, to hear that my fiancé was going to quit his job and start his own business. He followed this idea with, “This way I can really help you plan the wedding!”
Of course, I was speechless, perhaps even a little…no, extremely naive. After all, I was in love. I was too excited about our wedding day to truly think through the impact of what he was saying. So, I went with it. And so did he. And Eric did indeed spend the next 6 months helping me plan our wedding.
After a whirlwind wedding, a honeymoon to Hawaii, and a few months later, the addition of a Golden Retriever rescue puppy, whom we named Mac to our new little family. Slowly but not always so surely, he began to find small businesses that needed websites. Many of the very early clients I cannot even remember, but there are a few that stand out. These few stand out for a couple of reasons. Either they left a mark on fatrabbit CREATIVE for how they helped Eric find new work as he climbed the rugged, mountainous terrain that is building a business from the ground up at the age of 25. Or they stand out because they are to this day still clients of fatrabbit CREATIVE. That is a testament to two parties…Eric and fatrabbit but also to these clients who have stood by our side for almost 15 years!
Among these heroes, one that stands out to me is Ridgewood YMCA and YMCA’s Camp Bernie. Since 2003, Victoria Bennet, the Director of YMCA’s Camp Bernie has worked with Eric and his team at fatrabbit CREATIVE in a variety of ways. They have watched one another grow and change through a relationship that has lasted for over a decade. And fatrabbit could not be more honored to be a part of this great organization and the impact it makes within its community and the communities surrounding it.
But let me go back for a moment to the story of our “once upon a time”. In 2007, after we brought our first daughter home from Russia, Eric decided that his office in the basement had suddenly transformed into a place where the pitter patter of little feet had become an unwelcome song consistently interrupting his workday. So, he ventured out into town. A distance of .2 miles in fact. And there on Maple Avenue in Netcong, New Jersey, fatrabbit CREATIVE opened its first office on the 4th floor of an old building over a laundromat. It was a beautiful space. It was a huge space. And Eric did not even have a single full time employee. The biggest question in our minds was, “Can we continue to make this work and eventually fill this space?”
Our daughter, Juli, would become his first honorary employee. She at the age of two and a half, had her own desk and toy computer in the office. But her attention to detail and work ethic were not quite what Eric was looking for so he hired a designer. Then another. And before he knew it he had a whopping 3 employees!
Then in 2010, still calling that first office in Netcong New Jersey, home Eric hired his first in-house developer. That day, Reshma Patel joined fatrabbit’s tiny team, and together Eric and Reshma grew fatrabbit. Many designers came and went throughout these early years but Reshma always remained. She was Eric’s rock. Until the day he died, she was by his side. Eric loved Reshma dearly.
2010 also brought a new relationship for fatrabbit. A friend and mentor of Eric’s from church approached Eric with an offer. Phil was a successful businessman. He was a college professor and he had started a small company whose mission was to find small start ups, come along side them as a board services consultant, and help them grow through mentoring and accountability. I would be remiss if I did not here mention the forever famous quote that Phil made to Eric early one morning while sitting in a diner, pitching Cathedral Consulting. He said, “Eric, what you have right now is a hobby. But I am going to help you build it into a business.” And that is exactly what Cathedral Consulting, and Mark Thorne, Cathedral’s Managing Director have done.
Over the next 7 years, fatrabbit grew; sometimes at a painfully slow pace. fatrabbit had moved into a smaller space in the same Netcong building for a while because Eric did not have or need the staff to fill the large space he had had on the 4th floor. But success continued to climb that mountain by his side. And in 2014, fatrabbit CREATIVE found it’s current home at 350 Main Street in Chester. This space is beautiful. This space is home.
Eric was proud of what he had built here. He was proud of the success he found growing fatrabbit. He loved work. He never stopped talking about work. But it wasn't just success and pride that gave him the drive to press on. It was the people.
If there is one gift, one heritage that my husband gave to fatrabbit CREATIVE that can NEVER be forgotten, it is his love for his people. Both his employees and his clients. Relationship was the driving force for fatrabbit’s success. It is evident today in the effects his loss has had on so many and in the way these many have rallied to the side of fatrabbit in the wake of our tragedy.
So this year…this 15th year…we have something amazing to celebrate. fatrabbit CREATIVE has come very far since its little spark was ignited in the basement of a small NY townhouse. Today I am proud to be leading a team of 10 amazing professionals through what has certainly been a trial by fire. We now serve over 100 clients. And I am honored to take this legacy that was my husband’s and crusade to carry it through its 15th year and into the future.
We hope you’ll join us in celebrating this 15th anniversary of fatrabit CREATIVE. It sure has been a crazy ride. And it has always been and will continue to be one that leaves its mark on many. Cheers!