Oh goodness. I’ve written this post so many times in my head and when it comes right down to it, it’s hard to find the words. I’ve wanted to share my feelings about what I’ve gone through as a small business owner the past four years and so here goes. It’s a long one! I’ll try to start at the beginning.
I’ve been blogging here since – sheesh, a loooonnnnng time ago, it feels like – 2007. It wasn’t always under A Fashionable Stitch. I went under the alias, the Cupcake Goddess for many years. Wow, that seems like forever ago. When I started blogging, back in the day, I had no idea what I was really doing, what I planned to do with it or what blogging would do for me. When I finally found a focus in sewing apparel, things started picking up for me.
I loved fabric. I still do. Fabric is big for me. I love fine fabric, unusual fabric, printed fabric, textured fabric, fabric from all of the different natural fibers, fabric in all different colors, knit, woven, you name it. I just love it so much and I feel I have a natural affinity for picking good stuff. Now, don’t worry, I’ve picked my share of bad stuff, but overall there’s been more good than bad. I also had connections for superb sewing notions and tools and since I wanted to live a creative life to it’s fullest, aka making my creative passion my business I thought I would give selling notions and tools a try. Things that I use myself and I felt this would be a good thing to start with when it came to selling things under the umbrella of my magnificent obsession.
I’ve had an online store for quite a while, but I didn’t make it truly official until March 2011 (meaning I filed my business name with state and federal institutions). I had quit my day job and decided to go whole hog. And things were good. I felt good about the niche that I was filling and generally I felt like I was adding something to the conversation and that I did people a favor by having these great sewing notions and tools all in one place.
I started receiving more press and my online store and my blog were affording me some pretty grand opportunities. I really did feel great about things for a solid 3 years. During that 3 years, I had the marvelous opportunity to become the teacher of whatever class I wanted to teach at a local fabric shop called Yellow Bird Fabrics. It was absolutely wonderful. I developed some classes that really took off and this along with working one day a week at this fabric shop gave me the opportunity to become acquainted with a whole new animal – the brick and mortar store model. I still had my online shop at that time, I was teaching full-time and I was bringing home really decent money and we were able to live off of this and what my husband was making too. Seriously, it was the life. I think about that snapshot now and it actually kind of makes me a little sad. Those were some really good times and I was feeling way on top of my game.
And then, life happened. The gal who owned and operated Yellow Bird Fabrics was going to have her second baby and she started looking around at things and felt like it would be too much to run a fabric shop, work a day job and have two kiddos (under the age of 2) running around (who can blame her, right?). So she started opening up negotiations with the girls who worked for her so that she could sell her store. She approached me and we started discussing possibilities.
When we started negotiating about purchasing her business, we went through a lot of ups and downs and when all was said and done, I truly did not feel great about the decision to purchase. I had a gut feeling (mind you a very soft spoken gut feeling) that this was wrong for both of us and yet, I decided to just forge ahead anyway. I mean, who am I to listen to crazy voices in my gut or my head for that matter?? “I can do this and I am going to be successful!” I told myself over and over. From the beginning of negotiations to now, I have had nothing but trouble come from the decision to purchase that fabric store. For me, it was the wrong decision. I really feel this way deep down. Sigh…. Some harsh words to face for me, but really, it was the wrong decision for me. I feel it opened up a pandora’s box of a lot of hard, really hard problems that I’ve dealt with on both a professional and personal level that truly, almost did me in. I am amazed that I’m sitting here, writing something sane, having lived through it and come out the other side.
Once I took over possession of the brick and mortar shop, lots of things started going downhill. We had some ups, we did. But there were many more downs. Just when I thought I saw a little sunshine, BOOM! I was hit with one down thing after another and another and another…..and another. And the workload was unbelievable. I was working all the time! And for no take home pay!!! The business was barely sustaining itself. There were tears. I have never cried so many tears in my entire life as I did this last year. So many tears. SO MANY! And I don’t cry. This is the thing. I DON’T CRY! The frustration was so unbelievable that tears were my only refuge – it seemed a daily ritual! By December of 2014, I had had enough. I tried giving it a go with the Sewing Room and that just didn’t take. It was time to make more hard decisions and face some realities.
As you probably know by now, everything is all closed up. I never, ever thought I would close my online store. I had loved my online store so much (I still do), but after the sad fate of my brick and mortar shop, I’ve lacked the tenacity and passion to continue on with any of it, especially when it was barely making enough to cover itself. Once everything was over for the brick and mortar in March of this year, I went right into working full-time and found that the last thing I wanted to do when I got home from work was work more. I have no idea how I used to do this back when I worked a full-time job and was trying to get my online shop up and running (this was before March 2011). It was a hard decision to face, but in order to be fair to myself, then it was time to be real about closing up everything and letting the dream go.
I was fortunate, so very fortunate, to be able to go back to a job within the same company that I worked for previous to March 2011 – when I struck out to become a burgeoning entrepreneur. I knew when this job came back into my life, it was the right decision and I feel better about it than I have felt about anything in a really long time. I feel like I’m supposed to be there and while I know I’m still going to have my fair share of challenges from all angles and facets of life, this was the next right thing for me.
I don’t plan to mention my stint as a business owner much more, if at all (though if I’ve made something from an old fabric from my shop days, I’ll mention that). I’m not sure that I will ever dabble in owning a brick and mortar again – who knows what the future will bring. But right now, I’m not ready to even think about it. I thought I would put my experience out there, especially as someone who really tried to make it in this creative sewing field of business. Other business owners will have different, hopefully much more positive experiences, but I felt mine was also valid. I have felt so deeply about everything this last year (ahem, the crying thing again). It’s been really hard to hold it back and not let the debbie downer part of my personality take over my life – though she’s still won out a lot this last year. All in all, I’m so glad it’s over. I’m so happy to be looking at the horizon of the future with a new perspective on life and a different and more exciting feeling of hope and happiness. I have so much to be grateful for and I’m so happy to be sewing – yup! That drive is not dead. I have some exciting new partnerships to mention and thrill you with and I’m sure there will be more fabric, more garments, more fitting fights and reveries and well the old suspects that were more present on this blog before all of this craziness went down. I’m just glad to still be around. Cheers!
Thank you all for your support and encouragement as all of this has unfolded. Thank you!