Where to begin? As much as I love my homemaking blog, I sometimes felt boxed in by it; I didn't want to spam all my lovely followers by talking business stuff; but it has become such a huge part of my life that it seemed strained to not discuss it. But now I have the best of both worlds; I'll be able to delve into the inner workings of my business without feeling torn.
This new blog comes at an exciting time for my business. I've recently undergone intense reevaluating, and have ended up with a new name; new look, new attitude. But it's still the same me; in fact; this new identity is more me than "me" is! There's going to be a lot of work behind the scenes in the next few weeks; so that I can switch everything over seamlessly....I hope!
As I'm going through an identity shift with my business, It's led me to reflect on my own identity; and how I got to this point in my life. Like all of us, there's more to me than meets the eye, and I thought it would be fun to explain. Many of the followers to my homemaking blog know that being a wife and mother is a priority to me; but I'm not "just" a mom. In fact, the groundwork for my starting a business was being laid when I was very young...very young!
I was raised by a stay at home mom and a dad who was basically a workaholic. He managed a construction-related company and was very good at it. Since my dad was a valued employee (to say the least) and was in charge of his branch of the business; he had the flexibility to bring myself and my siblings to work; which he often did. Some of my earliest memories involve job sites; trucks with lumber racks; and the scent of sawdust. My dad is not an extremely talkative person; but I felt that we bonded on those days when I went to work with him. When I was fifteen, my dad struck out on his own, starting a family business. I went to work with him every morning at 7 am; to answer phones, write up (by hand) work orders, and help in whatever way I could. I quickly learned the ropes, with my dad often remarking that he wished his others employees learned the business as quickly! I enjoyed having my own money; saving quite a bit at such a young age, and completing my high school education in the evenings and during my breaks at work, through the now defunct correspondence course system. As my teenage years went on, my independent nature caused me to start having the usual conflicts with my parents. It came to a head shortly after my 17th birthday; when I was given an ultimatum: do things "their way" or move out, AND leave my job at my dad's business behind. I moved out.
I was in the unique position at the age of 17 of being well-equipped to support myself. I had working experience, and the drive to support myself. In fact, it was necessary, since I had no financial support from my parents whatsoever. I applied for a position of a clerk at a small printing and copy shop; and started there full time making $6.50 an hour. I didn't have many expenses, except the rent on my apartment, which was $585 per month, and utilities; so that, and my savings, would have been plenty. Within a few months, however, I was given several raises, and was making over $9 an hour, not bad for a teenager in 1997! I absorbed as much about that business as I could, and I enjoyed being my own "boss" as you will, since I got off every day at 5pm, walked home to my own apartment, and could do as I liked. Unlike many teenagers in this situation, I did not have a wild social life; I've always been a bookish and serious sort, and my and focus was on supporting myself and doing well at my job. During this time, I was also dealing with an eating disorder, which sapped my energy and my health.
One day in 1998, I had a long talk with my best friend after work, which convinced me to take the big step of moving from Idaho to Southern California. I had relatives there, and had been considering the move for a while. I was sick physically, and felt that I needed a complete change of scenery. In my usual fashion, I worked quickly. I decided to move on Tuesday; and was on a plane on Saturday, having sold/given away, and finally, in a panicked rush, thrown away; all the belongings I couldn't ship to San Diego.
It was the summer of 1998, just shy of my 18th birthday, and for the first time ever, I was a fancy-free teenager! My savings were enough to sustain me for a few months not working, and I was so exhausted and ill from years of the eating disorder, my health was my top priority. I ate, rested, swam, shopped, and watched MTV. It felt decadent! After a month of this, I was ready to go back to work; and started working full time again, my health almost completely restored. I'm not suggesting that all eating disorders are so easily overcome; but I was highly motivated, stubborn, and for me, my surroundings were a big factor in my disorder. Being removed from them helped immensely. It would never have occurred to me to go to therapy in those days, and I had no parents to insist. I got lucky.
Over the next several years which included a move back to my hometown; and the birth of four more children; I've always been a stay at home mom. For several years, James worked a second job delivering pizza at night to enable me to raise our own children; with me filling it with a few part time jobs when needed and when the opportunity presented itself. In 2010; after the birth of our fifth son; I was doing everything possible to reduce household costs. The economy had caused my husband's income to take a huge hit; and we were adjusting as best we could. Part of my cost-saving measures involved me making handcrafted soap and bath products, including shampoo and laundry detergent for our household, a craft that I truly love. After giving my soap to several family members, it was suggested that I should try to make a business out of my rather practical hobby; and so, with a $60 gift from my sister in law; a computer that I borrowed from my dad; and my aunt's hand-me-down (but wonderful) camera; my etsy shop (and business) was born.
What a ride!