You know that episode in FRIENDS where Ross and Rachel try to maneuver a new couch up a flight of stairs while Ross continually yells “Pivot!”...yeah, that was basically my life back in 2013, except instead of a couch, I was attempting a pivot from a non-profit executive to wardrobe stylist (Now personal stylist but that's a different pivot story!) By 2016, this pivot thing was becoming pretty familiar, so adding handbag designer to my repertoire of skills wasn’t a surprise to those who knew me.
While working as an executive, I worked alongside a leadership team that provided guidance and support as needed, operating a single branch of a seven-branch corporation. Periodically, our CEO would give us a book to read… “Who Stole My Cheese,” “Good to Great,” and other similar titles geared towards business leadership. I am not what you call an avid reader; I much preferred my education to come in the form of experiences and getting covered in the dust of hard work. BUT, I knew that as an entrepreneur I wasn’t going to have all the guidance afforded me with an administrative team. To become the Boss Babe I dreamed of being, I knew I needed to expand how I learned new methods of leading and so I began to read. A LOT. For nearly two years in fact (two-week notice? Try two year’s for this gal!) I gave my company ample time to find my replacement while I soaked up all the business knowledge I could find during the meantime!
For a girl who rarely picked up a book, I found myself browsing the business section of Barns & Nobel on the regular, looking for books that interested me. I eased into it, choosing books that weren’t too long or too technical, and I was a sucker for a good graph! Soon enough those volumes became marked in highlighter, with notes filling the margins, pages were dogeared and turned down for passages that I wanted to revisit. Each book was given a page in my binder, complete with cliff noted information I had gleaned from its pages. After a few months, I began to notice patterns emerging from the content, and I knew I had landed upon the business strategies that worked no matter the industry!
This Type-A Virgo immediately went to work crafting a plan. I was good at plans! As an exec, I was often assigned a job that I was able to efficiently complete because of my ability to turn large projects into easily digestible tasks, knocking things off my to-do list left and right. I rarely had to deviate from my plan. However, crafting a business plan for a startup, breaking down the necessary work and getting after it didn’t go quite as smoothly as I was accustomed. Challenges, which I now see as opportunities for growth, would come up again and again. Argh! They were not part of my well-crafted plan! But while I do love a plan, I also know how to be adaptable, and with Ross’s voice bellowing “Pivot!” in my head, I was ready to change course. All my reading had readied me for this moment, as I was well familiar with a business pivot. Simply put, it is changing your plan if your current one isn’t meeting expectations. And mine wasn't!
And so I began to pivot...or as our social media guru Megan calls it, “Plot Twist!” Which so much better matches my love of a good story! In fact, we find ourselves shouting “plot twist!” to each other when we see a new way to tackle an issue!
Our story had many plot twist in those early years. Finding quality cork “leather,” locating the perfect manufacturer, and gathering all the necessary financing (this last one may have been more of plot tornado than a twist!). Each issue that arose inviting a shift in plans...and if I am honest, a whole lot of prayers and trust in the universe to provide everything we needed!
As the manufacturing process for my first line was coming towards the finish, we hit another pivot in our well-crafted plan. It was a simple plan...Manufacture the collection in early May, photograph the pieces at the end of the month, add those photographs to the website in early June, launch the site in late June and have big ol’ launch party on the web launch date. Huzzah! Easy right?
Wrong. Without the finances quite where I needed them, manufacturing was delayed a few weeks, which meant photography was postponed as well. Editing of the shoot took longer than expected, further preventing the website launch, which in turn put our social media plan on hold as well. As it all began to shape up, it looked like the website wouldn’t be ready until August. AUGUST! That was a whole month later than planned! To add a little salt to the wound, I would have my collection in hand but no way to sell it! By this time I had little cha-ching bells ringing in my ears each time the date was pushed back as I mentally watched my debts add up.
“Plot Twist!” (You knew it was coming didn’t you?) - We rolled up our sleeves, pulled out all the stops, and we had our fancy flowers, food, and champagne filled launch part on June 24th as planned. We had all the girls there on display; Yvonne looking classy, Gigi coming in clutch with her sleek style, Inzio was stately and fine with her sexy asymmetrical lines. The best part was they were all for sale, and nothing goes better with shopping than great friends, family, and good champagne!
In July I hosted my first pop up party in my home (my very unfinished, still being renovated, concrete floors, dry walled sans plaster and paint walls, home), catered out of my makeshift kitchen for all those that could not attend the launch. Nothing was going to stop me from celebrating every moment of this collection launch the best way I knew how...fancy food, friends and champagne toasts!
Ps. If you are following along with our home reno, it is STILL in remodel mode, but we see a full makeover soon. The universe has been so graciously providing, that paint and plaster are sure to come soon. Then, hanging our lighting that’s stacked the hall!