Monday, January 2, 2012

Goals - Not Resolutions & Realizing Your Weaknesses

Have I ever told you that I once had a line of baby clothes called Baby Taylored?  Well I did, and boxes of  inventory still sit in my garage, waiting for I don't know what.  As my maternity leave after giving birth to Taylor came to an end, I was forced to make the decision of going back to work at St. John as an Account Executive, working long hours during quarterly market appointments, or take a risk and stay at home.  I went back to work for a week, and the pull of my first born child was so strong that I walked into my bosses office, broke down in tears and told her I couldn't do it, and so I resigned.

With the help of Art and his knowledge of Photoshop, and the artistic skills of my sister in law Carrie, I started a line of graphic tees and onesies called Baby Taylored in hopes of generating a nice little side income, and to keep me busy.  This was almost 7 years ago now so it was right on the cusp of the graphic tee craze; at the time only high-end baby boutiques carried cute, hip onesies emblazoned with catchy sayings and artistic images.  Old Navy and Target hadn't yet caught on with this trend, but later would of course usurp the small companies selling their onesies for $28-$32 a pop, offering theirs for the ridiculous price of $5 each.

Anyhow, we took images like drum sets and turn tables (remember my love of DJ'ing?), fire trucks and old Santa Fe trains and made them cooler by morphing them in Photoshop, and then having them screen printed on onesies and tees.  I focused on having everything made locally, sourcing my tees and onesies from American Apparel and then having the garment dyed right here in Downtown LA by the same dye house who at the time was responsible for dyeing the millions of Juicy Couture velour sweat suits that would clothe housewives like myself from coast to coast.  The focus was on quality and craftsmanship and I was really targeting boy's wear since my sister and brother had both recently had boys and the market for hip baby boy clothes was null and void.  I of course produced some cute girly tees; graphic images of lotus flowers and cool paisleys in colors other than standard girly pink came out beautiful.

Once I had a full line of clothes, I literally packed my bag up and shopped it around the Fashion Mart in downtown LA.  At the time floor 4 housed all the children's ware showrooms so I walked in one by one and introduced myself, asking to speak to the person who ran the showrooms.  I still can't believe I did that sometimes when I think about it.  Talk about ballsy.  I was turned down about 10 times before I came to Nicole's Showroom, owned by a French woman who mainly carried high end European brands, her largest line being Catimini.  Made entirely in the USA and a bit edgier than what she had in her showroom, she felt my line of tees filled a niche that she hadn't yet captured, and since her clients were used to selling higher price points, $28 per tee would be no problem at all.  We were officially in business.

During the first market I was picked up by 11 different boutiques in several different states.  Within 2 weeks of shipping, I had reorder requests for some of the most popular styles from at least 5 different boutiques.  I was thrilled, but as I got ready to work on the next season of tees, I did something some would later call stupid and crazy; I called up my old boss and asked if there were any openings.  While I had managed to keep myself busy with this new business venture, I also deeply missed the human connection and camaraderie that comes from working in an office with a group of people you admire and respect.  And to be honest, working for yourself is hard, and sometimes depressing and lonely.  There's no one to fall back on when you fail, no one else to blame.  It's all you.  And that scared the crap out of me.  Those 10 rejections I initially received when trying to shop my line around were enough rejection to let me know that I may be too sensitive to be a business owner.  Yes, Baby Taylored was off to a good start, but what if the inspiration well ran dry and shops no longer picked up my styles?  What if I got dropped from the showroom?  What if it all just failed?

And so I quit before I ever really gave it a chance to begin, too afraid of the possibility of failure.  When Taylor turned 1 years old, just 6 months into my business venture I went back to work full time as the West Coast Regional of Stores.

When I ended up leaving St. John for good 3 years later, this time I started another line of kid's clothing, but focused on handmade items sewn by me under the name Four Flights of Fancy, and I went the route of Etsy and local craft fairs.  Again, it got off to a fair start but I quickly discovered that I much more enjoy sewing for fun than for profit.  Just 3 months after opening my Etsy shop I went back to work full time at James Perse, closing down my Etsy shop indefinitely.

And now here we are, 8 months after leaving James Perse I've managed to stop the pattern of quitting jobs and starting clothing lines.  But still, I feel the need to have "something" of my own.  And by something, I mean something that not only keeps me busy but also generates income.  (These are my own hang-ups by the way, none created by a husband demanding me to pull my weight or else).  The natural choice was of course this blog.  And so I've gone the route of a redesign, done my best to generate quality content, and racked my brain day and night trying to figure out the winning combination that will help shoot my blog to some sort of marginal success.

What I've learned is that I put way too much pressure on myself, and when things don't hit the rate of success that I expect, I get very disheartened.  Not the best trait to have when trying to be an entrepreneur of sorts.  What I've learned about blogging is that sometimes it's luck, sometimes it's timing, and sometimes it's a combination of content and networking that help catapult you to success.  Content can always be improved and I can commit to working on that, but it's the online networking part that scares me at times.  I love being social, but sometimes I grow resentful of having to be strapped to a computer to do it.  I'll go days when I tweet up a storm and then get so burnt out I take a 3 day detox where I stay silent.  I guess I just haven't built up my social networking stamina to the appropriate degree it needs to be.

So while last year at this time I made a large commitment to a blog project that I had a hard time following through with online, although did follow through with in real life which is most important, this year I make no commitments or goals for this blog other than to stay true to myself.  What that means is to stop trying so hard to find that "winning combination", just relax and be me, and blog about what's important and interests me.  With that being said though, the one other thing I know about blogging is that it doesn't just happen in a vacuum and I have to give to get.  I make a goal to become a more active member of the blogging community and cultivate relationships online that are not just goal oriented in purpose, but are also meaningful.   

I've never been one to make resolutions each year, but in the spirit of the new year, and since I created a goal for my blog, I thought I better create a few goals for myself and my family, and so in no particular order my goals are:
  • Personal goal - worry less - about everything.
  • Relationship goal - don't be so hard on people, friends and husband included; no one is perfect.
  • Health goal - be a source of encouragement for Art to adopt a fitness routine and be supportive of him sticking with it. 
  • Spiritual goal - pray more - during times of worry ask Him to help ease my fears, and in time of joy, thank Him for my blessings.
  • House goal - create a working space that is organized and will help to inspire creativity.
  • Motherly goal - be more patient 
  • Financial goal - create a plan!
  • Misc. side goals - be on time and write more handwritten notes.   
Do you make resolutions or goals?

It's good to be home from our 5 day road trip adventure and I'm looking forward to a week of cleaning and organizing, and also downloading the over 800 pictures we took on our trip.  We had a wonderful time and I look forward to sharing our trip with you.  It's the new year and while it doesn't' necessarily feel different, the air is somehow charged with the excitement of new beginnings, fresh starts and open paths to adventure.  I pray that this year most of all, I will be open enough to take advantage of all of them.

I don't think I say it enough, but thank you so much for reading.  Happy New Year friends! 

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