One year ago this week, I quit my full-time job. After uprooting my life to St Louis, I had started my third job in 9 months and I was miserable, again. I was working for an organization that overworked and undervalued its employees. I worked a Monday-Friday work week that frequently pushed into nights and weekends, and I didn't make nearly enough money to justify my frustration. I managed an enormous staff and hundreds of labor hours, but someone else held the purse strings and wrote my budget, leaving me with little say in how I actually managed my employees. Not enough time for proper training or supervision, not enough staff hours for the size of the business, and not enough management to handle emergencies. I had been seriously reconsidering taking the job after only 35 days, but I told myself to stick it out at least 3 months.
My mom and sister came to visit last February (for wedding dress shopping!) and they got me talking about what I really wanted for my life. I talked about wanting to follow passion and creativity. They asked about my business--the hobby I had turned into Katherine Elizabeth Events. How about following that and really trying to make it a career? We talked it out, and over the next couple of weeks I kneaded the idea around enough that it turned into something. Anthony encouraged the challenge, and promised to support me if I had trouble paying the bills.
Around the same time I gave my two weeks' notice, I found out Paper Source (where I have always bought all my paper supplies) was opening a new store in St. Louis. Great news for my materials cost! I could buy from the store instead of paying shipping fees! And then I realized, what a great opportunity for a part-time job! Turning a very part-time second source of income into a full-time career doesn't happen overnight. It's a lot like the chicken or the egg. You can't afford to quit working for someone else without having enough business to be full time, but you won't get the amount of business you need to be full time until you have the time to dedicate to building it. I decided a part-time job was the right next step, and I was hired at Paper Source for a 20 hr/week position.
The combination of building my business and working at Paper Source part-time has been perfect. I've met some of my best friends in St. Louis at Paper Source. I've had the opportunity to work with creative people every day, it gets me out of the house a few days a week, and it ensures I've been able to pay the bills every month. I get a great discount on anything I'm not reselling (not my materials for my business, but there's SO many other things to use it on!). And the bonus is that I'm working in the same industry as KEEvents--keeping up with trends, and getting sneak peeks into what's coming down the pipeline from some of my competitors. At first I was afraid of Conflict of Interest, but rest assured--I've been entirely open about my business, and I make sure to keep the two separate.
The last 12 months have definitely been the most challenging, rewarding, and exciting of my life. I spent a significant portion of the year planning our wedding and learning a lot about the other side of the bride/vendor relationship. Some days I don't remember what it was like to be in the wedding industry before I was a Bride. I don't know how I did it! There are definite challenges to working from home and being your own boss that I didn't expect. It's not always as glamorous as it sounds (keep an eye out for a future post about this!) I spend way more time on finances and paperwork than I'd like, and this spring I've been so busy that I'm working early mornings, late nights, and almost every weekend.
For the first time in my life, I reap the direct benefit of my hard work and long hours, and that feels better than I ever could have imagined. Last week I looked back at the business goals I wrote down for myself a year ago, and I've reached Every. Single. One. And more. Today I closed out Q1 of 2015 with 55% of the gross revenue I had in ALL of 2014. Quarter 1 Last Year brought in 30% of my total revenue, but in 2015, I have enough orders in the pipeline for Q2 to surpass Q1.
But enough of the financial mumbo-jumbo. Business is on the up and up, and I have so many ideas for growth down the line. The possibilities are kind of endless, and I'm PUMPED.
Long story short, I'm happy at the close of every single day. My stress level, even when I have a lot going on, is completely manageable. I swear less and smile more. Many, many days my work doesn't feel like work. I honestly LOVE what I do. And that's so much more than I can say about where I was a year ago when I chose to make this huge change.
So... April 24, 2015 will be my last day at Paper Source. I will officially work full-time for myself at Katherine Elizabeth Events (with a couple of A Bride's Ally weddings to close out the spring in St. Louis). And June 1, Anthony and I will move back to the east coast and set up our home (and shop) in New York City. We are SO excited for the next adventure, and I am so proud of myself (which is not something I say often) for making this HAPPEN. Pinch me!
If there is something in your life that you love doing, find a way to do it as more than just a "when I have free time" hobby. Our "free time" seems to disappear more and more every year, and if you neglect your passions, you won't ever be as happy as you could be.
What's your passion? How do you make time for it?
Have a great weekend!