|Making and selling my own things. How did I get here? Answers and insights below.|
Not all of these women started out successful right out of the gate. In fact, most of them, it seemed, had to suffer rejection after rejection, self-doubts, obstacles that seemed insurmountable, and outright failures. The other thing that I loved about all of them is that they were all humble and grateful for their success. It makes me wonder..is there a mathematical formula for success?? So, beingkickedintheshins+fear+10Years+somesmartsoundingvariable=SUCCESS!
I can tell you, the "taking 10 years or longer" thing feels pretty real to me. I have been starting businesses since I could draw signs on cardboard, and even tried to run a little "drive-through" convenience/snack store called "Smileys" out of a burned out Catalpa tree stump in my parent's front yard. (Never mind that my parents lived on a 63 acre farm on a dead-end dirt road out in the peaceful country where no traffic came......come, on, I had 8 kids in my family! Surely that should have equaled some profits!!) I just wanted to CREATE things and SELL them so badly, I could feel it vibrating out of my whole being every day of my life. I was ridiculously bored at school, because no one was telling me how to monetize the things I was learning. If my teachers could have just helped me to see that there was $$$ in what I was doing, I'm sure I would have been a more attentive student! (As it were, I mostly did the absolute minimum amount of work to get my assignments done and then me and Laura Ingalls Wilder sat back together and learned about how she created her own dreams.)
Luckily, an opportunity DID present itself to me when I was about 11 years old. There is a miniscule little Fall festival in Newtonia, Missouri where they have a paltry sampling of craft vendors, lots of homemade ice cream, and a straggly little group of hardcore Civil War re-enactors that put on a dandy little show. (There was actually a substantial battle fought in Newtonia, and there is a large old mansion that was used as a Civil War Hospital that is still there, with a graveyard right next to it. I was madly in love with a boy that lived in that mansion, and he would tell stories about the ghosts of the war that still haunted it. Delicious!)
To get a booth space was like $20, and my mom was willing to front the money if I would be willing to find and make things to sell. I thought it would be brilliant to make an enormous pile of fudge, and to sell the whole entire table! I was salivating with the thought of not only getting to lick the pans clean, but also to lick the beautiful dollar bills as they came into my life! (Okay, I'm not that creepy....I only snuggle with money and massage it. Licking is a little too far.)
In case you've never made fudge, or any homemade candy, for that matter, it is..uh....a chemical process. You don't just get to mix some junk together and shove it in the oven. It takes measuring carefully, taking temperatures, singing lullabies, unicorn hairs, enchantments, and a shrubbery. My first batch was more like a pile of brown oatmeal. My second batch was better, and vaguely lumped into bars that could be sold. My third batch..uh....not much better.
In the proud tradition of my fathers and forebears, I had also procrastinated until the night before the event to make the fudge. It was crunch time, and I was being crunched. What was done was done, and it would have to do. I pitifully wrapped the glooey fudge into seran wrap and made a sign out of cardboard.\
I know what the end of this story should have been. I should have learned my lesson about the perils procrastination and the woes of shoddy workmanship. However, in an ironic twist of fate, I was handsomely rewarded for my misdeeds. After only about 10 minutes of sitting at my little folding card-table and pile of fudge, a truly terrifying looking woman came up and stood in front of my table. I don't mean to be unkind when such kindess was offered me, but she did, in fact, have a full circus freak-show beard and the craziest flowery dress I've ever seen. She grumbled, "How much is your fudge?" As a terrified kid, I sat agape for a few moments before I said, "Um...uh...like 4 dollars per piece, I guess?" She grunted, pulled out a pile of money, and said, "I'll take it all" in a meloncholy voice. I could hardly understand what had just happened. I handed it all to her in a bag, and then I took the money. What....the....what?
Looking back, I wonder if the lesson is simply this. I wanted something badly. Really, REALLY badly. It wasn't about the fudge. It was about me putting out this "I am selling things and that is how I make money" energy!!!! I've known that I was meant to run booths and sell things at shows for a very long time, and that is why I do it today. However, I have been working every day at this task for an equally long time. While other kids in junior high and high school were watching Dawson's Creek and talking on MSN messenger, I was sewing, cooking, and creating. While other girls went out on dates, I was making renaissance costumes to sell on ebay. I can't quit. I won't quit. I am compelled. I also happen to love every second of it, and I'm so excited to wake up and sew that I have a hard time sleeping. REALLY. ;)
As always, I am grateful for the support I get from all of you. I love the customers and women that I've attracted into my life, and I'm always excited to make new things for you to see. I also want to stand as an example to the notion that you CAN do what you want, go where you want, and accomplish what you desire. It takes work. Sometimes 10 years. It takes sacrifice...sometimes all you have in your heart. However, it is worth it to be able to live this life.