In Her Shoes is a series written by readers to give us a glimpse into their lives – to see what it is like to walk in their shoes. Today I am excited to introduce you to my friend Toni! She is launching an exciting new business, and I am so very proud of her! Stay tuned for an awesome giveaway at the end of her story! Let’s join our friend as she shares with us what it is like to walk in her shoes. ~ Love, G
Some of the surprises that have come my way while starting my business have been really pleasant, and others have been more difficult to work around. It’s often been messy, and less under my own control than I would usually like.
It’ll take a long time.
I first had the idea for my product in 2007. It is now late 2014. (You do the math.) My thoughts had to percolate and refine over the course of years, and then it took months of near-constant work to complete the final push.
Success means losing sleep.
I stayed up late, sitting at my sewing machine until I couldn’t guide a straight line, and then getting up at 5am to spend a couple hours on the computer before the “real” day started. I skipped church for weeks, and I turned down social events. I returned DVDs to the library unopened and unwatched. Advancing this project after so many years had become far more important to me than seeing a new movie or meeting a friend for a drink.
This one’s a no-brainer, but still caught be off guard with its intensity: Starting a new business will suck up every available penny, and then some.
Let’s just say that my credit card balance hasn’t seen zero in a while and leave it at that.
It takes a team to get things done.
I had the sewing part of the gig down pat, but I have developed almost zero drawing skill. I had to rely on my engineering designer of a husband to draft the designs for me, and then make revisions (over and over and over). Then when the first run was printed, even after I thought I’d caught every possible glitch, my team of testers found still more that needed correcting. The next step of working with retailers has taken teamwork to a whole different level, and I’m humbled all over again when I discover just how little I know about business; many times, I don’t even know what I don’t know. I’ve had to be brutally honest with my retailers about my naivete, and they know that I’m feeling my way along. Thankfully, they have all been incredibly gracious, sharing their expertise freely and doing everything they can to help me succeed. Even while I’m technically “my own boss,” I’ve had to gratefully acknowledge the contributions of others who have helped me along the path.
Putting a price on your own work is HARD.
How can you assign a monetary value to something you love and have brought into the world? It’s simultaneously so precious, and also so personal that it’s tempting to either hoard it up or completely give it away, because how could you ever take something as vulgar as money for that?! The truth in between, though, is that work and skill are valuable. My hours matter. My contribution to the creative community matters. I deserve to be compensated fairly, and gaining the confidence to ask for what I’m worth has been a gradual process. (It’s amazing how the neccessity of making a return on my investment spurs that process along a lot faster!)
Your little side-hustle might take over your life.
Something that’s existed for a long time as an oversized hobby just may expand to into something that you can’t imagine your life without. I’ve grown to care much more about my business and about running it myself and being my own boss than I ever expected. I can’t imagine going back to an office job, working to advance someone else’s goals while setting my own aside.
You will cry when you see other people loving your product.
The first time I saw an apron someone else had made from my pattern, I was entirely surprised by the level of joy I experienced. I’m not sure I’ve ever had a more gratifying experience in my working life. The entire product development process is one of self-doubt and questioning: is this worth it? Who cares about this except me? Will anyone even be interested? What if I’m putting my energy into something that I think is lovely, but I’m blinded to it and it’s really just ordinary, or maybe even downright awful? And then when you realize that yes, other people do care, it’s enough to make the heart just about burst open with happiness and satisfaction. Of all the surprising things that I didn’t know about entrepreneurship, that’s been by far the best.
Toni, Miss Merryheart herself, is graciously giving away a FREE apron pattern to one of our readers today! Just leave a comment below telling us your favorite comfort food! That’s all there is to it! I’ll randomly choose a comment on Thursday and notify the winner!
Toni has also offered to give us 15% off any printed pattern in her Etsy store through November 8, 2014! How awesome is that?! Just use the coupon code: GINGER15 when you go to check out with your purchase! Be sure to follow her on Facebook and MissMerryHeartAprons.com.
To read more encouraging stories, or if you are interested in sharing your own story, please go to the In Her Shoes tab near the top of the page. I love learning about the people in this series. Connecting with others seems to make the world feel not quite as big and scary. We’re all in this together. I can’t wait to hear from you, to read your stories, and learn more of what it is like to walk in your shoes.
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