Small Biz Real Talk.
This year is the first year I have ever been completely self-employed. Since starting the business, I always had a part-time job in some capacity with a boring steady paycheck that paid the boring bills. This year, all my income is coming from projects that I am literally generating out of thin air. It's been HARD. It's been stressful. It's been challenging. And some days, it's rewarding af.
This year I found myself taking on new challenges, exploring new places and vending at shows outside of my little local bubble for once. May presented one particularly difficult week. On Monday, my cat died really unexpectedly. On Tuesday, it was my birthday - and a birthday that put me on a slippery slope to olds-ville. On Friday, I woke up at 5am to drive four hours to New York City for a three-day show including a wholesale day that wasn't amazing. I kept pinching myself to stay awake all day - the buckets of coffee just weren't doing it. But I got to spend some time with old friends at a time where life was changing for all of us at once, and hey I met one possible retailer, so that's something. After researching, sampling custom products and many many emails, July brought my largest purchase order to date from Uncommon Goods.
On Instagram, we see the final product a lot. We see inspiration, or a highly staged process photo. When I see people IRL, they say things to me like "I'm so jealous of your life!" "Looks like things are awesome!" "What are you complaining about, you just got a big order! [insert throwing shade emoji]" But let's talk about what you don't see: me losing sleep because one of my scents is causing slight discoloration in the wax and the supplier says "not our problem" so I get thrown a week off my production schedule. Me losing sleep because I have NO IDEA how to ship this quantity of candles without going freight, which I don't even think I can DO because a pallet won't fit out of the door to my studio. Me losing sleep because I had to order a bunch of supplies, put it all on my credit card and dipped into savings to pay one bill already this year and stress that I'll have to do it again. Me losing sleep over meticulously planning my minute-by-minute Monday when I return from vacation to make sure everything is on schedule. Me losing sleep because UPS did not pick up what they said they picked up and will everything arrive on time AND in one piece? I have To Do lists on To Do lists. Sticky notes on sticky notes. Starred emails in my inbox on starred emails on my inbox.
Sometimes it's just hard, but eventually it's fine.
A good friend told me that when I was in New York and it stuck. This life is hard. It's so fucking hard. I tell my husband, who has gone through his own series of career moves and wants and hopes and dreams over the years, that eventually we get exactly what we want. And with it comes a whole new host of problems. That's how we move forward; it's how we grow. And life has to be this way.
But we don't always have to do everything alone.
I learned that in the best way. My mom always volunteers to come help in the studio and I never take her up on it. Before I left for vacation, I sent out the bat signal to her and my brother knowing I needed to pack up this huge order the Monday that I returned. Then, I got home all zen and relaxed on Friday night thinking 'oh no, I can do everything alone,' so I told my brother 'ah it's okay, don't worry about coming by.' He responds "Oh, but it would be so fun for me and mom." FINE. 'Come by, be in the way,' I thought. They saved my life that day. Without them, I probably would have just been sitting on a stool crying because it takes SO LONG to put crinkle paper in 180 boxes. You don't even know. I'm a sole-proprietor to the max. Sometimes I'll have someone do a market for me, or come help at a show but never have I ever had a helper in the studio. But in four hours the three of us together (mostly the two of them) accomplished what would have taken me 11, probably more with the crying breaks. Asking for help, and accepting help is great, even if you are determined not to need it.
So now that time has passed, I can reflect and know that things worked out. After the tears, the fears, the anxiety and stress, everything was fine. It's a few weeks later and the seas are calm again. So now here I am, and of course all I'm thinking is "Awesome! What's next?"