Ellen grew up surrounded by a family of entrepreneurs, and was finding herself on the path to become the third generation to run a furniture store business in suburban Philadelphia. After watching her family battle the long hours, aggressive competition, and no paid time off, she enrolled herself in college and earned both an MBA (Columbia) and law degree (George Washington University). Successfully climbing the corporate ladder, by the time Ellen turned 50 she found herself a Vice President at Fannie Mae. She also was enduring an exhausting Washington DC commute and juggling the priorities of others.
After a lovely drive into the countryside in 2001 with her mother to enjoy the fall colors of Loudoun County, Virginia, Ellen happened upon a for-sale sign posted at the then deteriorated Briar Patch Bed & Breakfast. She immediate recognized it as a place she had spent time at years before with her young daughters. With fond memories (and good business sense) stirring in her mind, she became inspired by the idea of escaping the corporate trappings and venturing out on her own - much in keeping with the business traditions she had grown up with. Full circle? You bet.
The rest, shall we say, is history. You can learn more about Ellen's decision to join the ranks of thousands of other corporate ex-patriots who have migrated their talents and energies into the world of innkeeping by watching this video and reading the original article as published on Slate: Second Acts.
For a first hand look at the transformation of this charming and historic B&B under Ellen and husband Dan Haendel's inspired vision and thoughtful direction, make plans to stay at Briar Patch Bed & Breakfast Inn the next time you are passing through Middleburg, Virginia. It is a lovely setting for weekend getaways, destination weddings, or quiet corporate retreats.