It's a daily struggle to stay positive with a burgeoning small business. There's so many aspects that are excruciatingly hard and so many that are rockstar amazing. In truth, the rockstar amazing ones are less but they fill your soul like nothing you've ever experienced before - and that makes it all worth while. Or does it?
We live in a society where capital is needed for every single thing. From your bed to the roof above your head to the nourishment or lack there of that you can have. And for some reason, at least for me, so much of my inner yearnings and goals revolve around having a solid and stable financial structure. Yes, since I was a little girl, I dreamt of being older and doing what I loved, even though I had no clue what that was, and always imagined someone else, some magical faceless being, taking care of all my bills and supporting all my whims. Then you grow up and realize that, that magical faceless being is you.
I'm lucky enough to have eventually figured out what makes my heart sing, what I want to do even if nobody ever pays me a cent for it. But the harsh reality is that pursuing your dreams comes at a major cost: you have no freaking clue how you're going to pay rent next month or if you'll have enough money to eat the next day.
I spent my entire 20's and 30's fighting to find meaning in an overworked life, with a fat paycheck and an endless amount of anxiety. I thought that my lack of joy and fulfillment came from the fact that I hadn't broken through the glass ceiling of women in the tech workforce and made it my mission to sit on the managerial throne and prove to myself and others that women CAN render killer results when leading a team, maybe even better than men. I used to get so frustrated with my male managers sometimes, and think, when I get to manage a team we'll start our meetings with group meditations and go celebrate at the local cafe our weekly successes, hitting and exceeding our performance numbers. Booyah! And then I got there, to the throne. And guess what? I didn't find that magical fulfillment I was looking for. In fact I felt as empty as I felt in the almost two decades before. And I enjoyed a new emotion of guilt and anger at myself for not being happy because I had a 100k plus paycheck and was a BOSS. I broke through the glass ceiling only to find myself standing there, staring at myself and saying "you are and have been miserable for many, many years". Funny thing is that my "team" hated my guts. They did not laugh at my jokes, were mega put off by my smiles and attempts to "get to know" them. I could not have been more disliked and rejected if I had tried. At first I chucked it off to the team being young and us having a generational gap (even though I was in my late 30's). Then I thought that perhaps I was stepping into a role that is inherently harshly judged and ostracized by a team. I was tortured thinking "what in the world is wrong with this picture? I'm a sweet, honest and generally funny person and I genuinely care about these kids and the stuff we're working on". The occasional sadness of missed sessions of pre-meeting meditations would shrivel my heart and punch me in the stomach from time to time (for the record I never even came close to suggesting the meditations - I think they would punched me in the face if I did!).
When I couldn't find anything wrong with me, or my behavior, my emotions travelled in time to a very familiar place called high-school. A place where I was myself and sadly very very disliked. And I became 40 going on 13. I felt bullied by my team. I felt like they hated me because I wasn't like them and because they saw my uppityness as fake.
But after years of torturing myself I turned my attention around, a full 180, to face myself square in the face, and I yelled at myself (metaphorically of course!): you don't want to do this anymore. Like, literally you don't want to work for tech companies, go to Scrum meetings, update your status in the Kanban board, listen to another billionaire delivering a meaningless all-hands speech and sit in a cube/open-floor-plan desk and stare out the window fantasizing about how desperately you want to be on the other side of it - anymore.
And then there were my kids. In that little girl dream with the magical faceless being, I had all the time in the world to be a full time stay-at-home momma. And that was and still is super super important to me. When I had my first baby I went to work a week after giving birth. And that did not feel right. My heart ached every time I sat in the pumping room staring at my milk going into a tiny vessel and wishing with every fiber of my being that I could be nursing my son in person. All two/three times a day that I had to pump. Then when we found out he had autism, the guilt of not being home to guide him, nurture or at least get to know him better so that I could navigate the oceans of medical/professional advice - literally made me sick to my stomach and felt wrong on every level imaginable. So I asked for a couple of days to work remote. And my boss said no. So I left. I chose to follow my heart and be there for our son, even though that led us to the worst financial situation we've experienced to date. And he flourished. And our relationship flourished. So, I don't regret that financial horror one bit.
Then, after a couple of miscarriages and loss of my belief in ever being able to carry another child, our daughter decided to barge through the doors of our lives. I spent the whole pregnancy holding my breath, until I heard her first sweet, sweet cry in the delivery room. When I held her, another little girl, like me, I was changed forever. Instantly. All those miserableness feelies I'd been repressing and feeling guilty about, all those 7-year old little me dreams of being an artist and designer, refused to be silenced any longer. She somehow accelerated all my "one-day it would be nice" dreams and forced me to face every poignant and dirty truth that I had so unsuccessfully hidden under the proverbial rug for far too long. Then I took another job, because let's face it, having a fat paycheck is what you need when you have a growing family. And it all went to hell. But I still didn't pay attention. Until I was badly injured, an injury that I believe my ex-coworkers still think I conveniently faked. A deeply poetic injury because it involved my left foot. Fear of not taking steps forward, aka ignoring your screaming inner voice for years and years and years, equaled three fractured bones and a ton of torn tendons. A broken foot forces you to be stagnant, to be careful with every step, and attain a massive amount of patience because the recovery is veeeery veeeeeery very slow. It's been over a year for me, and after months with casts, boots, canes, physical therapy and endless rest, and I still can't walk without pain, sometimes excruciating.
So, when is it a good time to start your own business? When you cannot fathom another day without sitting at your own desk, at home, nursing your second child whenever she needs it, in person, and bringing to life the designs that have been fighting for your attention, that have been calling out to you since the day you were born. I was born a designer you see. I did not realize that until my early teens. But that did not make me any less of a designer. I LIVE for the work I do. I imagine the rush that a rockstar must feel when she's playing a song she's slaved over at the studio for months - how she must feel playing it live and hearing the crowd sing along and closing her eyes as the defeaning applause reverberates all over her skin. That's how I feel when I finish a design, crank up the laser machine, assemble it, glue it, polish it, and hold it in my hands - with my heart racing out of my chest with joy. The joy that I feel is the joy that I hope its future parent (aka: you) will feel when you wear it. When people stop you on the street and say "hey, cool brooch!" and you smile proud - cause that day you were feeling particularly shitty and totally forgot what you were wearing - and that person reminded you that even though you might not feel that hot, you look pretty badass. And that makes you feel better, and pull those shoulders back a little more and make your work day end faster.
I know that these initial struggles are worth while. I know it every time I see a photo of one of you rocking our Baccurelli pieces. I know that my left foot, my daughter, those teams that hated my guts, my aching desire to help our son, have all been my biggest and wisest teachers. And when someone says "wow, you're so lucky that you work from home and get to be with your kids all time time" I wish I could say: it's A LOT, like I mean A LOOOOOT harder than you think or ever imagine. It's very scary to rely on your talent, scattered parent-of-little-kids memory and deep desire to create and badassify the world a little more. But I wouldn't have it any other way. I simply look back at where I came from, and remember that all along, THIS, Baccurelli, being at home with these kids that require so much of our attention but whom we utterly ADORE, working side by side with the love of my life and making people happy in any way I can, is ALL I ever wanted. Truly.
"Don't give up your day dream" they say right? I'll add to that: and get ready for a bumpy ride. You'll work more than you ever have in your life. You'll have zero work/life balance. But, and this is a good but, you'll be happier and more fulfilled than you've ever been in your life. I am!