Carnival life can be rather glamorous if you are there as a spectator...wine tasting, freshly baked cinnamon rolls, watching the world from the top of the Ferris wheel, jockeying frogs in the frog jump...Ok, maybe that last one is just me! Fun fact: I have 28-years experience as a frog jockey, and in fact, my late Uncle Lee (namesake of our Lee belt!) still holds the Calaveras County Fair record with his frog, Rosie the Ribiter.
Pulling together a team after years of being a solo act had me feeling a little like a carnival operator. After years of carnival experiences (and 20 years as an executive), I felt right at home in my new role. Each team member had their task (or two!) they were juggling and keeping them all in the air was no easy feat!
In the first stall was our brand new website that Leann was building for us. I had written some bare bones copy so thank goodness we had Theresa to add the glitter and polish it needed to match the glam of our brand. Bethany, keeping our followers up to date on our newsletter and launch day giveaway, was masterfully orchestrating the social media circus that is Facebook and Instagram! Melinda was keeping all our efforts on brand while also crafting our business suite, hangtags, and packaging (which is super cute by the way - buy a bag, and you’ll see for yourself!)
In the adjacent stall, Russ was managing a juggling act of his own. With the samples approved, his hands were full receiving orders of cork, crafting cut dies, handling shipments of zippers, hardware, thread and leather that I had ordered in anticipation of the start of production of my first collection.
Over in the last side act, was our photographer, Dhrumil, planning sessions in New York and Connecticut to showcase the line. I was running from ring to ring, answering questions, making decisions, planning, managing behind the scenes and still working as a personal stylist. It felt like I was spinning plates and waiting for one to slowly bring the whole operation down in a fantastic crash!
Personal styling work had been lucrative, providing the capital I needed to launch my collection, but by January of 2018, the work was drying up, and with it, the money I needed to move forward. The Thomas Fire (2nd largest in modern California history) changed everything. When you have lost everything, you are hardly worried about what to wear to your next event and auditing your closet pales in comparison to where you are going to lay your head at night!
And there it was, the first plate was starting to slow. June was looming, the team had been working tirelessly for the launch, and with my business credit card and line of credit nearing their limit, I feared not having enough capital to manufacture our collection. And even if I had enough to manufacture, I didn’t have enough to photograph the collection for the website and social media. Panicked, I reached out for loans. Unfortunately, I wasn’t making enough money yet, so none were granted. I tried to increase my credit card limits but ran into the same issue. Time was short and I was in too deep to start a crowdfunding campaign. So, I secured a capital investor, who was enthusiastic about the opportunity, but when her funding didn’t come available in time, we found ourselves at another dead end. Even our personal finances were tied up. My husband, the man who says yes to every one of my dreams, was dealing with a crisis of his own. Amidst all the other stresses, he learned our home, which he’d been remodeling, was required by the county to be completely torn down and rebuilt within three months. We’re talking about torn ALL. THE. WAY. DOWN...to the slab. One by one, I was watching each plate slow and begin to drop, just waiting for the inevitable, heartbreaking crash.
But tenacity is in my blood, and my dream was bigger than a few disappointments. It was time to take a deep breath and BELIEVE that the money to manufacture, photograph, launch and rebuild our home was coming. After all, the show must go on, right?
Want to read my journey from the start? Hop right on over here.