I cannot believe how quickly these past 3 years have flown by. Allow me to rehash for a minute how crazy starting your own business is when you don't have financial backers, a studio space, or more than 2 sets of hands to do everything from accounting to taxes to designing and shipping products! It is the most amazing/crazy/difficult job I have ever had, but that's old news, right? That's what everyone says, especially in an age where so many of us entrepreneurs are leaving comfortable, corporate jobs for our own businesses. However, every word of that is so true. The first year was pretty challenging, as there was a lot of fear of failure and uncertainty from myself that this wouldn't work out. I am really lucky to have a close group of family members and friends who always lent an ear when I was frustrated or just needed a good cry. But it truly is the most rewarding job when you know you have earned every penny and that what you work so hard at makes people smile!
I often get asked how I started my business or how I knew this was what I wanted to do. The answer I always give is that I just always knew this was where my career would take me. As soon as I decided an art career was meant for me in high school, I knew this is where I would eventually be. I like being in control of my work, and it just seemed natural to assume that one day, I will be able to oversee what kind of designs I will create and how I will go about shaping my career. I did not wake up one morning and decide to embark on my own career by myself, however. It was a very calculated decision that took about 2 years to prepare for emotionally and 1 year to save up for. Even then, it still felt like I was diving into something that I didn't know much about, although I actually preferred to approach it this way. After all, knowing too much was probably going to scare me out of making any steps towards this, so I just went for it.
Saying goodbye to a very cushy corporate job was pretty difficult, but totally liberating! As soon as that happened, I was off to embark on this new career. I felt I was learning something new just about every day for the first few months. Art school did not prepare me for how to budget my finances, file my expenses for taxes, write agreements for myself that would protect my work, or choose what equipment to invest in for selling my own art prints. There were lots of emotional ups and downs thrown in there, too. But, I figured it all out, one at a time... I learned that it is more important to always create great, quality work that I believed in, than to take on projects that paid more money. I stuck to that philosophy and I'm so glad I did. Quality and authenticity are still at the bedrocks of what our studio is growing into today! I also learned that it is really important to build great relationships between my clients, customers, followers and colleagues. Every interaction is one worth taking care of, especially in my line of work where I'm sharing something very personal with others!
The second and third (this current year) flew by much faster than that first one. Even though I am still learning so many things and putting on a lot of different hats everyday, I have become more comfortable with task management so that I can juggle the different industries that I work in (designing for larger companies at the same time as working on our home-decor line and fulfilling bridal needs). Money took on a new meaning for me too, from first feeling all too precious to waste even a single penny to recognizing that it means I can reinvest it back into my business.
I have met so many of you guys at craft shows and local events. It meant so much to me to hear and see how my work has inspired you all! I even did a whole series of online tutorials with Creativebug, which has helped me reach even more of my audience. And most recently, I was able to invest in a full-time employee to help me accomplish and grow some areas of my business that I no longer have the time for! We are currently looking for a new studio space, so I foresee this coming year to be filled with a lot of new firsts for us.
All of the hard work has really been paying off, and I feel as though it's been a very organic- though carefully planned- transformation into what it is today. I learned that it is smarter to take my time in expanding our product categories and make sure every one of our new products are made well and exactly right than to just hit certain benchmarks. I hope to continue growing this business and that you guys will continue following along with us. Who knows where we will be in another 5 years? I definitely can't wait to see what new products we will have (I have so many ideas still floating around in my head!) and what new opportunities and collaborations we will make!
Have a wonderful weekend, everyone and happy shopping!