10 THINGS I'VE LEARNED IN THE LAST WEEK:
1.Small Businesses don't have many advocates.
2.Waterproof makeup is not "tear-proof". Gushing piles of bitter tears wash that all right down your cheeks until you look like a zombie raccoon.
3. The people in our city government are very kind and understanding, ESPECIALLY the sheriff, but they have to obey the laws of the city when someone calls in a complaint. I'm pretty sure you could run an illegal alligator smuggling trade right in the comfort of your own home and my city wouldn't bother you, unless the neighbor who loves alligators called you in on it, then the city has to address the problem. I've read through so many legal pages and documents for the different cities around here that I feel like my eyeballs will start bleeding, rather than just gushing tears.You have to put in A LOT of hard work to figure out the fine print for running a home-based business, and I suppose that was one of our greatest mistakes. It's just ignorance of your own ignorance. Very dangerous.
4. I have the power to forgive. I also have the power to go right back to being pissed off and feeling victimized. Then I have the power to forgive. Then I have the power right back to cursing the skies and feeling like giving up on entrepreneurship all together. Then I have the power to forgive. This person couldn't have known that they were putting a whole entire company in jeopardy, costing them thousands of dollars, and endangering the livelihood of very good people.
5.If you want to get a commercial space in Spanish Fork, the rent STARTS at about $800 a month and goes up from there. Anyone running a small business knows that cutting that much out of your profits is the equivalent of shoving toothpicks under your toenails, comfort-wise.
6. There is clearly a huge gap between small businesses and the giant companies. There is literally no middle ground. Apparently you either cobble together bird feeders in your basement (no more than the lesser of either 300 square feet or 15% of your total living space! Let's be absolutely legal!) or you move the operation to Honduras and have a factory throwing together bird feeders by the thousands, and then your factory manager gets shot and killed. (This last part is a true story, only the factory was making oven mitts. One of our new neighbors in our commercial space was telling us about his friend just trying to run a company, and his manager got shot and all MANNER of hideous things happened afterwards. He's trying to move his factory to our town. I had better caution him against it!)
7. Burning a whole entire pan of corn on the cob while you're trying to work through your feelings in a blog really sucks....and it stinks...literally. My whole house smells like popcorn scorching on a table lamp. I'm too numb to be upset about it. There are much worse things to go through.
8. I can forgive. I CAN change my attitude. I know I can.
9.Falling apart and sobbing while you're on the phone with Comcast, as they're telling you that it will take a whole ADDITIONAL week to finally hook up your internet..that's embarassing. My voice cracked as I explained that my whole business is run through the internet. The last part of the conversation was the lady saying (in a very rehearsed-robotic, business-like tone of voice)" I'm sorry for the inconvenience, ma'am. I can give you my direct line here andyou can call back every day to see if there is an opening sooner. "Me-(tearing up for the 17th time that hour, sniffling... you can practically wipe the snot coming off my face.) "It's okay. I don't want to call back. I've lost all hope."Click. End.
10. I have to be a buffalo. I just have to. I talked to my oldest brother today, and he told me that. Apparently, when a storm is coming, cows turn and try to run, but buffaloes face the storm and charge into it headfirst, as to not prolong the torment.
My brother must know me very well, because the image resonated with me. He also knows me well enough to know that I'm a dramatic passionate woman, which feeds my business and moves it forward, but could also crush it apart on a whim. He kept saying, "Michelle, don't do anything drastic. I know you're pregnant and emotional. Don't do anything drastic.You're stronger than this."Speaking of drastic. *cough* Just last night, I had decided to shut down the corset business forever, burn all of my bridges, and maybe have my husband go back to school so we could sink ourselves into debt, he could get a soul-sucking job that paid him $30,000 a year, and I would just recede into depression and darkness, never coming out again.
Then I woke up this morning and felt like myself again, like I could take on the world! I remembered that I fiercely loved my company, my customers, and the blessings that all of us receive from it! I remembered that I can KNOW I'm successful if people want to badly to tear me down. I remembered that Dave Ramsey (whom I absolutely love and adore!) said that he gets so much hate mail from people each day that they could bale it! I remembered "No Pain, No Gain!"I thought about the song that says "You can't get up if you never fall down." I drew up every positive quote and thought I could and wanted to blast them out of my rolypoly pregnant body as I faced the beautiful sun-shiny day!
I got to work at our commercial space (I'll post pictures, if you guys are interested. It's a measly 1200 square feet of space, and we are already jam-packed. Our bolts of fabric take up 2 entire walls, lined 2-3 bolts deep!!) and I gleefully ate some brownie brittle! (I originally thought this was a wretched idea, as the best part about brownies is the fudgy, seductive, gooiness that wants you to salivate all over it as you nuzzle the tender morsels up to your maw. However, for some reason, this stuff is flipping awesome.)
After a few hours, I started worrying about the million billion things on my mind, finding bitterness in my heart again, thinking of all the reasons that I would inevitably fail, and dreaming about how it would be the actually know how much money you're going to make that week with the brilliant invention of a paycheck.
And I had to work to build myself back up.
I'm not divulging all of this because I want you guys to feel sorry for me. I feel like one of the biggest strengths of my business is the connection with the customers who make it possible.Without all of these supportive, creative, good-hearted men and women, I'm just a girl with a big sewing machine and too much fabric. My favorite thing at festivals is when I actually have enough time to TALK to my customers. I love, love LOVE it when they tell me about their lives, their struggles, their families, their female emotions, and especially about the internal wars with their body images. Even though I actually don't use facebook at all as a personal thing for me, I LOVE it for my business, because it adds to my very existence to see happy smiling women, feeling powerful and beautiful in their own bodies wrapped in the loving embrace of one of our corsets. Oh, hell. There I go crying again. I'll blame the burnt corn fumes. Anyhow, I feel that it's really important for all of you to know who I am, where I come from, why I do this, and where I want to go. Perhaps if I open the doors wide and let you see my weaknesses, you'll have the courage to open up to me, and we can form better relationships. I feel deeply that business IS about relationships and people. Sure, the product is there, but the emotion and ideals behind the product give it substance, and the people involved give it a soul.
If you don't believe that I'm attached to you guys, on a very palpable, individual basis, just ask my husband. He was trying to help me go through the submissions for the photo lookbook contest, and with each one he would pull up, I would burst out, "Oh, I LOVE her! She's from Finland and she loves color and refuses to every wear anything boring!OOooh, I LOVE her! She has the coolest family, I met them at the festival, and they brought me snow cones and we ate them together. Oooh, I!.....and so on and so on."It's like I said, I was supposed to narrow them down to about 30 submissions, and when it was up to me, I still had 80-100. I had to hand it over to him, where he is still making decisions about formatting, lighting and adjustments for the preset format of the magazine.It's just that I wanted EVERYONE to shine! I loved these women so much for sharing their images with me (which I honestly DO know is scary. I think most of us would be a little uncomfortable with the idea of being "models") and I just felt such prodigious gratitude as I went through the beautiful photos!
Phew, I'm already feeling BETTERjust thinking about all of the people who give so much unfailing support to me and my company. Giving up is not an option. Eating brownie brittle and walking into the storm like a buffalo seems to be my only option right now.