Friday, November 21, 2008

{Gratitude Week} Single Stone Studios

Good Morning for the last day of Gratitude Week. Once again, I am so thrilled to see all the posts from so many people! Thank you all so much for sharing your stories.
I don't have anything planned to write today. I have thought about what to say all week and I really have so much to be grateful for so I'm going to write what comes to mind this morning. (this could be long)
It's been quite a year for me! Before Single Stone, I working a job I really disliked using skills I didn't really posses making the job much harder than it should have been. From Dec '07 to Feb '08 I was in salary negotiations. It was a long drawn out process. Most unpleasant for everyone involved. (especially for the guys downstairs that I complained to - Are you reading this Ed?) In Feb there was finally a meeting that just brought everything to a breaking point. By May 1st I had specific goals to meet for this company in order to retain the salary bump I had been given, and possibly earn more. The way this was told me to did not sit well! It was in that moment I had more drive and faith than I have ever had to finally find the right combination for me and Billy and our own business.
Walking out of that office felt so liberating. I knew I didn't have to take on the pressure of that job any more. I was free from it. I was still working it but I had freedom from the burden that was so heavy the whole time I worked there. It was truly one of the most difficult times I've ever been through. Not only was I working a high-pressure job but I was the only one working. Billy had taken a couple of years away from his marketing career to do mortgages (we had a small brokerage together with some partners - till the market bottomed out) when he tried to get back into his marketing career - he was suddenly unemployable. I guess almost 3 yrs is a long time in the corporate world. Not that he was thrilled to be going back but we needed financial support after letting go of the brokerage.
So, we found ourselves in a hard place, yet again. Only this time - we were WAY in over our heads. The career we had always relied on to be there before through previous corporate downsizing and lay-offs was no longer an option. Contacts didn't return messages, companies he'd built relationships with no longer know his name. It was such a disappointing time.
One day I decided I would see what I could find for myself and answered an online ad. I got a call within 5 minutess of sending my resume, interviewed the next and and took the job. It wasn't near enough to pay the bills but it was income. I had been home with the kids for 10 yrs so lucrative job offers were just not there.
So now we have a little income. Savings is drained. Billy finds a job within the housing market that pays something ok. We're still not fully making it. There is a 2nd mortgage that only exists to pay the first mortgage. Credit cards are being used and not paid at the end of the month for the first time in our marriage. But there is still hope and faith that there is a plan! Kind of funny when I think about it but so many times we would hug each other and say "this sucks, but it sucks together". No matter what, we were going through this thing - coming out the other side victorious over our situation and we were coming out TOGETHER!
So, getting back to my May 1st deadline. I knew coming out of that office that I would never meet those goals. They weren't even on my radar. I had goals but these goals were made BY me, not FOR me.
My goal - by May 1st I would quit the job I dreaded everyday and work with Billy on a new venture. And that's just what I did! By the end of the week, after leaving that meeting, I sent Billy and email (yes - we email - we talk too). I told him that I had seen this cool decal on a blog - had no idea who the maker was but it was cool and I knew I could design them. I sent him links for places to have them cut, links to places to buy our own equipment, places to help us get started with the art, and you know me - a long, preachy message on how and why we can and should do this- passion is a good thing :)
A few days later, I was at work and he called me to say that my equipment and supplies for our new company had been ordered and that I had a little over 2 weeks to get some art together as we were kicking it off March 1st. I was game! Needless to say those first designs are no longer in our stores but they did get us started.
Within 3 weeks our investment was paid off. We were taking steady orders. Sales were increasing from month to month at rates that were unbelievable. I quit that job May 3rd - it happened to be a Friday and I finished out the week :) It was a long last couple of weeks but I feel good about the way I left things.
Since then the business has grown and grown and is still growing. I don't think we have seen anything yet! As the New Year approaches I start to reflect on the past year and make goals for the new one I am astounded to be standing in this place in such a short time. And standing here with Billy couldn't be more perfect! He is such a rock. I'm a creative flake - I know it. I work hard but Billy is the back bone of this business. Keeping all the orders organized, processed, produced and shipped. Day after day after day - endless hours in our basement studio - only coming out to eat dinner and to watch football on Sunday. LOL

Right now everything revolves around the business. It gets tiring but we have never been so energized to keep going. We appreciate every order. We are so grateful for this business and what it means for us. The people who have come in our lives because of it and the platform we are working to build that will allow us to reach out to so many others who just need an opportunity, as we did.
So, as I sit here reflecting on the journey this year has taken us on I am most grateful that Billy and I share the same dig-in-your-heels, stubborn-as-a-mule attitude and never gave up on what we always wanted. We couldn't have done it without each other and I am so blessed to call him my husband.
And if you have made it this far :) I am offering our Cherry Blossom Branch today for our give away item. It is our most requested design and I'd love to give it to someone!
Enter To Win:
Just leave a reply to this post telling us about something you are grateful for. All comments throughout the week will be gathered and put into a pot Saturday morning when I will draw the winners for each prize. I will announce them on the blog and let the giver of the prize get in touch with the winner!


Ashley said...

What a cool post. It's been great doing business with you the last several months and exciting to hear your "back story". You know about our journey so, of course, I'm thankful for my sweet son Declan!!! :)

erin said...

Beautiful post.

Over the years, I've come to learn that I'm most grateful for experiences - the good ones and the tough ones. I sometimes struggle with the fact that I seem to have an inordinate amount of 'bad luck.' Recently, after a particularly bad week where everythind that could go wrong, did (and I was feeling very let down by humanity, the universe and myself), I came to a realization: Life is about the journey, not the destination. Every setback is actually a step forward.

Kinda corny, I know... but I really have become a new person, just by sitting back and letting the good and the bad things unfold, and taking them for what they are: experiences geared toward leading me through life.

amybyrd said...

I just love reading your blog this week, and I am posting on them all as a way to make myself reflect on what really matters.
I am grateful for my husband. Since we met I have become a much calmer and more reflective person. He has helped me adjust to moving to a much smaller town and a new school with patience and love. Everyday he marvels at how I am able to teach middle school and reminds me of the gifts I have. Who could ask for more--he also does all the dishes!!

shayoa said...

Wow, Congrats. :o)

I am so grateful that I am doing art for a living. It's the best job in the entire world, and for the first time, I wake up looking forward to the day!

I'm further grateful that after a year and a half of looking, we finally found an amazing condo to rent, which will further our lives and our artistic businesses. I've learned that patience can actually be helpful! :oD

Jen said...

What a great post! Thank you Shelley for sharing your story. I've absolutely loved reading these comments. Really helps me put life in perspective and realize how many gifts I've been given. Especially a WONDERFUL family. :)

Dear said...

I'm grateful for etsy! To have such a community of artists and art lovers support each other and tell their stories is so wonderful in this world which so often doesn't value creativity.