Happy October! First of all, it truly IS my own personal birthday month. But more than that, it is the two year anniversary of my business, Grin & Barrett, LLC.
This business started after I had been home for about 18 months with my fifth child, after a 20+ year long career as an engineer. WHAT was I supposed to do with all my free time? I was bored and getting more bored by the minute singing baby songs along with Amazon Music. So I started to sew clothing for the baby.
I've loved sewing since I was little. It was a fun way for me to dress up my 18" dolls without spending any money, and I was free to imagine any type of outfit my mind could create. My mother always had little scraps of fabric around from her own sewing projects, and remnants abounded at our local fabric stores. I've sewn for all my other four children as well, but just little projects here and there for fun.
My business idea began initially simply as a creative outlet for myself, with offers to my friends and family to help them if they needed a seamstress. I particularly enjoy re-creating an outfit seen in a store, or a piece of clothing no longer available to purchase. So I launched with the idea that I would market myself as a custom clothing creator. I didn't really think I would NEED a business license, that I would keep my effort small enough so it wouldn't matter, but got one all the same, "just in case". That worked initially, insofar as I had a handful of orders from family and friends, and no real money to show for it.
Very slowly, I added pieces to my business that I believed could help spread the word. I bought business cards and left them at small business all over town. I created a Facebook and Instagram page. I changed my LinkedIn profile. After nearly two years of being open, I created a website. As my youngest aged out of multiple naps a day, so did my business age out of me being too timid to let people know about it.
Initially, I was too afraid to say I did this work to anyone but close friends and family, and even then I would only admit to being "mediocre at best" at my craft. I suffered (and still suffer) from imposter syndrome, and am honestly in disbelief when someone hires me for a large project spanning several weeks, that takes hours upon hours to complete. But I'm getting there! Now I am running a website and a blog, hand my business card out to anyone and everyone who might show an interest, and receive calls from complete strangers needing seamstress help every day of the week. I have more business now than I had imagined in the beginning, and could easily do this job full time (I don't currently have the time for that, but we're getting there!)
My idea of what the business would become has certainly changed over the two years I've been open, and I am glad for that. What I imagined I would do, compared to what I ACTUALLY do are two very different things. I am proud, though, that I approached this whole experiment as just that - an experiment. I am a trained chemist and engineer and am absolutely not averse to failure. When a trial doesn't go the way I thought it would, its a learning experience, not FAILURE, per se. Learning is never bad. And this experience has further strengthened my resolve to go where I am being led, not push into a realm where I don't belong. I love what the PopUp Business School and Rebel Entrepreneur have to say about this - you never know until you TRY - and if it doesn't work out, pivot.
I don't think I'll ever be a famous fashion designer like those competing on Making the Cut or Project Runway (nor do I want to be), but I AM pleased that my business has morphed into something where I can help the NJROTC kid on a Saturday afternoon fit his slacks before school on Monday. I can help the desperate bridesmaid hem her dress two days before the wedding. I can re-create a look my sister found online for half the price of the designer version. I can re-cover endless numbers of cushions for my mother-in-law so her house can be decorated just like she pleases. And what's best, after two years of work, I can honestly say that:
- I am working at what I love
- I am making time for those I love
- I can provide value and fill a need in the community in which I live
- I have done it all debt-free
- I now have a ledger in the black instead of in the red
After two years, the business can pay for itself and cover the household expenses it uses (such as utilities and cell phones) and not "borrow" from the house budget! What an awesome thing to celebrate! My baby business is growing up. You were wobbly at standing in the beginning, but now you can walk on your own. Happy birthday, Grin & Barrett, LLC! Here's to many more years to come, and watching you learn to run.
What thing are YOU celebrating today? No matter how momentous or tiny, celebrate with gusto!