Escaping Work: A Failure Story
Have you ever started a business of your own? It's quite a wild ride. From researching the legal stuff to finding your niche, managing your own business is...well...WORK! Ha! Who would have thought THAT, right!? I think some people want to work for themselves because they think they will be able to relax and have time to do whatever they want. No work equals freedom, yes? I discovered this idea is ALL wrong.
When Emily was MUCH younger, JD and I had several discussions about me returning to work. we weighed the pros and cons. The main pro, more income for our budget, was actually canceled out by one of the cons, the expense of childcare. But the main con I saw was missing out on spending my time with her; watching her grow, being there for all of her first steps, first words, first....everything! We ultimately decided that I would become a stay-at-home mom.
JD has always called me the CEO of our household, and that title holds true! I cook three meals a day, wash everyone's laundry, clean the whole house, plant and grow our garden, play with Emily, and...well, you get the picture. For those of you who believe that being a stay-at-home mom is easy, and that my days are filled with shopping and Netflix binging, y'all cray. Being in charge of three people and their needs while living in a house is a lot of work. It is a JOB! In its own way, my job is very fulfilling. Especially when my family is happy. However, I have learned that the job is fulfilling to only one part of my personality. Hello, Enneagram 4! I wanted to do things beyond the scope of a housewife, and I wanted those things to contribute monetarily to our household. When I realized that being my own boss was the path to take, I started brainstorming how to make it happen.
I turned to the one skill I knew I truly loved: creativity. But, goodness me, they are SO many creative people in the world! Just look into Etsy shops, scroll through Instagram, or go on a pin hunt on Pinterest! The creative world is brimming with talent. How could I possibly enter this world and find a niche of my own? I am often reminded though, that every voice is different. We may be influenced by one another, or like some of the same styles, but we see things differently, and our creative voice comes from the world in which we live. My search began for my creative voice: what did it look like and how could I communicate it?
Many people find inspiration in their roots and can trace some of their creativity to influencers from their youth. I just so happened to be inspired by the wonderful world of my mother. She has held many jobs, but her job as a florist inspired my creativity the most. She taught me many skills, but simply watching her create the amazing floral pieces that decorated our house is one of my favorite memories. She is a master of color and a wizard with scale. I still call her each season to see what she has found at our local nursery. She always manages to find something gorgeous!
There is so much color around our house. From the garden to the art pieces on the walls, we seem to collect and infuse a rainbow into our lives! It makes us happy. I realized how much I loved color when I looked into my closet and it brimming with a multitude of hues. I stopped to think at this point about how I could help others add color to their own lives through a business...another love I have is accessories. Adding a piece that made an outfit pop always gave me a moment of joy. However, my sewing skills for making things like bags, scarves, hats, etc. were severely lacking. But, jewelry was something I had dabbled in some years ago. I picked up my old supplies and attempted to make a necklace. Bingo. A fun, fulfilling, lucrative past time was beginning! Or so I thought...
Boy, did I ever put everything into attempting to make this new hobby into a business! Earrings, bracelets, rings, necklaces, you name it. All the beautiful beads and metals I could get my hands on came home with me in the name of building stock for my budding small business. If you have managed a small business, you should realize by now that this was a mistake on my part. Not only did I have a massive stockpile of pieces that I did not know if I could sell, I found myself slowly burning out on forcing the creativity. Good grief. This "being my own boss" thing was not going well.
Enter my daughter. She grounds me in ways I cannot even begin to describe. If you ever want to come back to Earth, let a six year old tell you what they think. Humility party for one, please! Emily stood behind me one day while I was in my studio and asked why this jewelry thing was taking all of my time. Oh. Wow. She had me there. Every part of me had been taken by this drive to fill my need to create. I was also trying to be more to my family than I felt I could be when I was just "Mom". WHOA. Truth bomb. I felt 'less than' being a mom. Ouch. Major life re-alignment needed STAT.
I dropped the business. My family needed me. The 'me' I had become denied all of us the 'me' we all needed. The one who took care of everyone; including MYSELF. I put my 'boss babe' dream on the back burner. One day, Emily and I were crafting when she brought me a pair of silk flowers she had found. They were Apple Blossom blooms, a gorgeous dark teal color--my great weakness. She asked me to make earrings with them. I took the blooms from her hands, and with very little thought, wound a tear drop shaped section of wire to each bloom. After attaching an ear wire, I stepped back and held the earrings up in the mirror. Wow. I was stunned.
I ran to my closet and threw on an outfit that worked well with the colors of the blooms. I was thrilled with the result. The earrings were simple, but they had such a huge impact on my outfit. I have always adored statement pieces, but statement earrings can be difficult; they are often too heavy for my ears! These blossom earrings though, they weighed almost nothing! As I smiled at my reflection and admired the blossom earrings, I realized a few things:
1) In all the markets I had been to, I had not seen handmade earrings like these. I had a niche.
2) Making these earrings connected me back to my mother and her floral skills. I was adding a new layer to the family legacy.
3) I loved having ONE thing to create. It made me focus and hone a skill--which is what I had been searching for in the first place.
My small jewelry business shifted. I began exclusively making the blossom earrings. I branched off into different styles and even added beads and metal elements, but I continued working with the medium of silk flowers. I am enamored with my business; building a skill set that I can research and develop as my own is the most satisfying aspect of this entire adventure. Creating with a sense of purpose and honing that skill in order to develop creatively in my own space. I've cried buckets from sheer happiness and joy. Yes, I'm an empath and I feel #ALLTHETHINGS fully. But how could you not be grateful to have your cup filled? God is good.
The challenge I faced through all of this was twofold: learning to balance life and work, and finding my own voice. I never wanted to be consumed by the misguided perception that busy is best. Busy doing what? Watching the hours of your life evaporate as you work yourself to the bone? NO THANK YOU. Work is good though. Work keeps my mind sharp. The hours spent developing and marketing will bring dedicated customers; worthy time spent in my mind. This is good work. Building this business has taught me good work. In turn, managing my time within this business has taught me to slow down and be with my family. Be the housewife who fulfills their needs. Because fulfilling their needs also fulfills mine. Work hasn't freed me from labor, but it has given me the time I need to relax in the freedom that comes with working. Freedom to be me, in all senses of the word. Do good work in all the areas of your life. You'll find that your heart can expand to house all the things you want and need.