Here’s a little life update: I’ve been pretty busy over the past month moving into a new place and wanted to take the time to talk about why I did it and what it means, especially for my business and sustainable fashion as a whole.
Let’s rewind to about a year ago. I was finishing up my senior thesis (which was also my business plan) and out and ready to get new investors. Every single place I went to turned me away because I was a college student. Yes I had good credit, and yes I would have a good income to debt ratio if I applied for a full-time job after school, but it was hard to do that while simultaneously finishing up 22 credits for my degree, working with my manufacturers, getting back to investors, and finishing that goddamned environmental stats lab. Needless to say, I was stressed to the max.
Becuase I loaded up on credits, I decided to take a bunch of easy credits in my last semester. One of which I was planning on using to get my minor in Public Relations: Design Praxis. Here I spent the entire semester with twenty other students as we came together to design a total of two logos – one of which turned out to be the logo I now use for Bottle Thread.
Then came the end of the semester. I was frantically trying to put all my last minute assignments into place, when I found out my final for this class involved a presentation of my designs. No big deal, since I’m used to talking in front of people, but I had three other finals due on the same day and didn’t feel like giving another presentation.
I just went ahead and did it anyway, right when the President of the University decided to walk in on the class. I gave my presentation like I normally would and all was well. I knew I passed the class and was about to head on thinking about my next final.
The president pulled me aside and asked me more details about the company. I happily talked about what I’ve been doing and also mentioned that it was part of my senior thesis. They thought it was great, and we headed our separate ways.
Graduation came and went and I spent the summer hanging out at my mom’s place waiting for my shirts to come in, and applying to job after job trying to establish myself in my own place. Time went excruciatingly slow until some time in mid-July, I received an email from one of the Deans at my school.
Subject Line: You
The email asked me if I wanted to work with her during the school year as a part-time assistant. This way I could work on my company without having to worry about keeping a roof over my head. It was a massive blessing, and I gratefully accepted.
About a month later I was living back in the same dorm I just left two months prior. I worked with the campus staff and faculty part time and spent the rest of the time working on my business or writing my first book Slower Style.
All while, I was expecting to have my designs ready by July it quickly became November. I raised all the funds I needed to order the shirts, but my supply chain was failing behind schedule. I agonized through the next couple months as customers wanted to know where their pre-orders were and why I couldn’t send them to them right now.
The entire bit with the school was a massive windfall. I cannot explain how I could have gotten through those months without the sense of stability and support that came along with living on campus and not having to go to class. It was a privilege, and most people couldn’t fathom how I managed to stay at school while still not going to class.
So then comes February, when the first of my shirt is being shipped to me. I was running out of money and knew I would probably have to still look for a full-time position even after the shirts came. It’s going to take a bit of time before I spread enough of the word to sell out of my shirts completely.
The problem is, I can’t work full time and part time while living at the same place provided by my part-time work. The numbers just didn’t add up. Plus, I was living in a dorm, and there was no way I was going to be able to store my merchandise in my room. It was time for a change.
Mid-February, a couple of my friends came to visit. One of them, I used to live next to during my sophomore year in college and is absolutely delightful. She found an amazing apartment in one of the best neighborhoods in the city and was nervous that she wouldn’t find a third roommate for the house.
Two days later, I was touring the house and fell in love. Hardwood everything, new appliances, four fireplaces, and gorgeous craftsman windows, all a block from a big shopping street yet in a super quiet neighborhood. With only two weeks notice started to plan and within a day, I jumped on board, paid for rent, moved out, resigned my post, and moved all of my things into the new place. A week went by before I moved my mattress off the floor and onto a bed frame, and all my furniture was in place. Almost a whole month has gone by and I still wonder where it all went.
So, that is where I am right now. I’m coming up on the one month anniversary of moving here, and I still love it so much.
I’ve been spending my time looking for jobs, packing and managing the first order, making sure everyone who ordered a shirt is happy, hired a media company to work on my product photos, filed my taxes for the first time, and oh yeah, it was my birthday last week too so we threw a party.
Just now, I’m starting to come to terms with the gravity of the decisions I’ve made in the past month. Am I scared? you betcha! Am I going to be okay in the end? Heck yes! I feel like this is all a part of growing up, and once I get on my feet I want to look back and see how far I’ve come in such a short time.
And until very recently, I’ve been trying to put together all of my experiences into a cohesive system but just hadn’t been able to do it. I have a really awesome idea I’m working on now, but it will probably be a bit before I can talk about it.
What can we get from this? Hopefully a lot. I get tired of people who identify me as this super successful business person who has “made it” in the world, has her life figured out, and is saving the world one bottle at a time. While I can entertain that Idea for a bit, being idolized feels very isolating.
I want you to know that there are parts of running a business that isn’t glamorous. There will be hard times. You won’t have it be exactly how you want. Does this mean it’s not worth it? Of course not! Business is about growth and changing yourself and the people around you. You have to be open to change and not necessarily know everything about your future just to make good business decisions.
I hope these words reach you when you are struggling with something that you don’t know how you are going to make it through. You will, and you’ll understand why you’ve struggled so much with a little bit of context. Until then, keep your head up and keep on chugging on. Besides, I can guarantee the people you’re comparing yourself to probably feel the same way in one regard or another about you.
Besides, my mom always said: you can’t expect to wait at a stop light until all of the lights on your road trip are green.