"I've just fallen in love with this store. I'm so glad to have found you."*
I'm pretty sure that I've told this story before, but this time of year always makes me think of it. Four years and six hours ago, I woke up after several challenging months. Of course, when you are in the middle of things, it is hard to see what it is all leading up to. Change had been underfoot at my job for months, I was doubting myself - my talents, my abilities, my plans. There were tears. I had even spent most of October updating my resume (which hadn't been updated since I started my job about 10 years before). THAT alone was a stressful project - how DO you convey your skills and talents on one piece of paper?
"When I got home, I told them, 'I think it's daughters of elves and fairies working in there.' I didn't want to go back out on the street."
But when I woke up, early for me, on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, I woke up suddenly and everything was totally clear. I know, I know, it sounds so cheesy, so cliche, but it was one of those classic light-bulb-going-on moments that people talk about but which I didn't really believe in. After months of deliberating over what I was going to do for the rest of my life, trying to make compromises to fit my plan with my boss' plan for me, thinking out loud while friends patiently listened and didn't say anything about my secretarial aspirations, trying to figure out what job I could take to "fill the time," when I woke that Wednesday morning, my only thought was, "we should open a store."
Of course there were moments of doubts and anxiety which followed afterwards, but the clarity of that moment stays in my memory.
"This store is very inspirational. It strikes up memories, give me ideas. There's not much like that out there these days. Thank you."
I'm thinking about that moment especially this year because I am delivering a sermonette at church on December 5th. The topic is preparing and I've been thinking a lot about ways that we prepare. Times that we think we are prepared for one thing but are really preparing for another. Times that we feel unprepared and yet we have never been more prepared.
"This makes me want to go craft. Like, right now."
And that Thanksgiving day, I spoke my plans outloud to friends and family. In some ways, I had never felt more prepared. Because my Christmas letter for about 10 years kept saying, "by 40, I want a store of my own." That was why I had my job in the first place, because that was the first step on that path. Not to mention all the projects that filled my apartment, which could easily fill up a store. But I wasn't 40 yet! There was still so much preparing to be done. In some ways, the timing seemed a little off. I hadn't really been expecting my job to come to an end at just that moment. The business plan wasn't written. The adorable girl was just a month old, and who starts a business with a newborn?
"I appreciate you being out here and sharing your creativity."
In hindsight, the moment was just about perfect and I am so glad that we seized upon it. The economy was still in pretty good shape, we cashed in on some stocks while they were still valuable, the bank was willing to give us a loan. And, let's face it, starting a business with a newborn is, in some ways, easier than trying to set up shop with a toddler who doesn't sit still.
And now we are coming up on our three-year anniversary in a few months. There's very little that I would differently if I had it to do over again, which is always a comfort.
"Look how adorable! I just want to eat this shop!"
I feel tremendously thankful - for my sister, my family, that adorable girl, our customers, our consignees, for the ways that risk and daring are rewarded and for the ways that I get to share creativity and inspiration every day.
"You have the cutest store. I just love it. You took something you loved and turned it into a store, didn't you?"
Nothing is perfect - it is a tremendous effort for the introvert that I am to be nice to stragners 6 days a week. There are days when I feel tired or overwhelmed, anxious or crabby. But every single day, someone comes into the store and pays us a compliment, thanks us, purchases the perfect present or just the art supply that they were looking for. I have filled a notebook with the happiness of customers and I feel so grateful for having the opportunity to have an effect on the creativity of the world. Happy Thanksgiving!
"I'm just in love with this place. Everything here is so thoughtful. It makes me a little misty."
*actual customer overheads