Thursday, January 25, 2007

New Beginnings ~ Again

No, this isn't a New Year's Resolution. I stopped doing those many New Years' ago. This is a new life resolution.

I've had a small business of one sort or another since I was a kid. First, there was the obvious lemonade stand, only mine was a juice du jour stand. I 'juiced' whatever I could get my hands on ~ the neighbors' pomegranates, lemons, oranges, grapefruit; the berry man's boysenberries. That lasted as long as my mother would allow. About a week. I was a messy juicer and she quickly became tired of cleaning up the sticky messes.

Anyway, I'd built a little juice stand with an old door laid across a couple of saw horses. My tablecloth was an old sheet, my sign hand-printed. And I'd wait outside for my customers, with my pitcher of juice and bowl of ice and real glass cups. Did I mention we lived on a dead-end street?

My next venture, at 10-years-old, was recycling. Remember when you could take your empty soda bottles and get a nickle for them from the grocer? I was the kid lugging 20 or 30 of those empty bottles across a busy street to get them to the 7-11 for the 'refund' money. This same 7-11 used to give out Monopoly money as change (I don't think it was legal) and you could bring in the Monopoly money and buy, oh, I don't know, cigarettes and beer and sanitary pads. It was weird. Some savvy entrepeneur/con-artist figured out a way to duplicate the rubber stamp on the back of the 7-11 Monopoly money and was robbing them blind. The 7-11 stopped using this means of money exchange within a couple of years.

I then went onto a series of short-term self-employment gigs ~ an autumn leaf raker, a summer weed puller, a dog sitter. I would bake cookies and sell them door-to-door. I attempted baby sitting, but after a close encounter of the perverted kind, I gave that up. In my early teens, I went to help my aunt with her plant nursery. Now that was a job I could really get into. Everything grew in hot houses and I loved the way the hot houses felt inside ~ they were damp and earthy and scented ~ and strangely quiet. I started another little side job there. Plants would drop a leaf or a stem and take root in the floor of the hot house; I'd dig the little plant out, replant it in a tiny pot, and resell the baby begonia or spiderwort or string of pearls or red polka dot at the swap meet, right alongside my aunt, who was selling the big pots of plants. I would give her a cut of my profits, for the potting soil and pot I'd used, and I did this for an entire summer, until I had enough money to buy school clothes. Remember saddleback Dittos? I bought six pair at the end of that first summer.

Then I got pregnant, then married (in that order), and my brain cells started evaporating out through my ears. My world was diapers and formula and part-time j-o-b's and bills ~ and a real prick of a husband. That alone will turn any semi-intelligent woman into a total moron. Besides, I have this theory. I believe that pregnancy, childbirth and child-rearing (and that includes the husband) causes women to lose their short-term memory ~ short-term, long-term, all the terms. That's my theory, and I'm sticking to it.

Whilst living in utter chaos, I still attempted to start a business. I made handbags out of old jeans I'd picked up at the second-hand store, then sold them at the swap meet (thank the powers that be for the ever present swap meet, three days a week, rain or shine). I added to my handbag collection handmade hair bows. This was the late 80's ~ remember the big-ass bows girls wore in their hair? I like to consider myself partially responsible for that fashion fiasco. I sold 30 or 40 each time I went to the swap meet. I even had a wholesale account! During this time, I also wrote a cookbook ~ for wild game. It was never published because Prick thought it would be great fun to use it as kindling.

I left Prick behind and started a new life, only this time I wasn't alone. I had three little boys in tow ~ three half-wild, wicked little boys. So I started another 'business'. This time I went in an easier, less expensive direction ~ I started making bath salts. And, yes, I sold them at the swap meet. I first sold them in plastic bags, then graduated to squares of fabric (I'm a total textile girl). That lead to sachets. That lead to scented dolls. That lead straight back to bath salts.

So there I was again at bath salts, tired of the friggin' swap meet and wanting something more stable. What did I do? I put them in a craft consignment store. Yeah, I paid someone to let me sell my stuff in a building full of stuff just like my stuff. Stupid . . . . stupid, stupid, stupid.

Things really slowed down after that. I got a 'real' job, remarried, went to school part-time, got pregnant -- again -- that meant a few more million brain cells evaporated. Then I found soap making and it opened a whole new way of thinking for me ~ remember, at this point, I'm pretty much mentally crippled from the results of my theory (read above). It took two years of constant trial and error before I got the hang of the soap making gig. Two years of attempting to sell gross, ashy, smelly soap to friends and relatives. Okay, so I gave away a lot of soap back then. I was using whatever scenting materials I could get my hands on (I'm a grabby girl), including fragrance oils of the non-natural variety. But I loved the essential oils best. Before I'd ever even owned a computer or perused a forum or joined a group or thought to brag about how long I'd been on the 'net gathering information or hanging some pretentious credential from an uncredentialed school of aromatherapy on my wall, I was in deep, passionate love with naturals ~ it was just me and patchouli . . . or me and sandalwood . . . or occasionally, me and rose.

And so began a new business ~ natural skincare. I studied and read, I got a computer and joined groups, I started an aromatherapy program, I networked. I had no business plan. I had no plan at all. My plan, if there even was a shadow of a plan, was to do what I loved ~ and I do love this business. I even set up a real, live, physical store. That lasted 11 months ~ because there was no plan. I'll only take half the blame for the store closing since I did have a business partner. Ultimately, what ended the store was the same thing that ended my lovely little juice business ~ location and NO PLAN. We weren't located on a physical dead end, but definitely, firmly situated in a marketing and visiblity dead end. My old store is now a tattoo parlor and they're doing quite nicely.

Now here I am, basically back at square one, except now I've got loads of experience and hands-on education under my belt -- and I have a freakin' plan, man!

It's a new beginning for me ~ again.

6 comments:

  1. I usualy enjoy every post you write tremendously, but this one made me break out in whooping laugh here and there. Darling, reading this post brought back memories long forgotten and is a solid reminder that my youngest (who will turn 8yrs in March) probably is the most promising entrepreneur in his age group - anywhere LOL.
    Apart from all my own little businesses over time (I have known for peddling my handmade earrings and other jewelery, bows to put both in the hair and on pumps (shoes)) he has ideas not only to sell his outgrown toys, but want me to bake buns so he can sell them along with lemonade at a stand outside our fence in the summer as well as wants to sell my perfumes at a stand in the nearby mall. Bless his little business oriented heart :-D

    Btw, yeahh I'm still here but now I will, will,going to shut down the computer for tonight.

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  2. Lord have mercy! You just reminded me ~ I did the handmade earrings thing too! I also made dough art (hahahahahahahaha!), beerocks (not from the dough art) and baby clothes.
    You keep letting that little entrepeneur do his thing ~ someday he'll buy you a big house -- well, that's what mine keep telling me.

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  3. Oh no -he will never leave this house. He has told me that he's gonna stay here even when he get his own wide and kids, so he can take care of me. Just because these old people places don't seem nice at all. Have he seen any? Nope, but still loves his mama enough for that sacrifice. Will I hold him to it? Nahhhhh;-)

    When it comes to make stuff with mywon pretty little hands, I think I have done everything except pottery. Once upon a time I even croched old style laces ;-)

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  4. Okay... so how many braincells per month am I looking at losing when I decide to get with child? I'm thinking to try and cheat Nature and Irony a fair bit and get things in order beforehand :)

    I've done cloth xmas tree ornaments, baker's clay ornaments (the playdough crud you bake that smells of sourdough), various pottery projects (that was care of the pottery club in highschool, I never actually took the classes), soaps, salts (no one takes a freaking bath in CA, it seems), fizzies, soaps, perfumes, soaps.

    Perfume is who I am, but soap keeps me mired in buckets of oil and containers of lye, at least once a year now. Dangit.

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  5. This is what I tell my older kids ~ if you must, absolutely must have children, try ONE on for size. When that first one gets past three or four years old and you feel you can't live without another one, have just one more. Then stop. Don't goal set ~ if you get two boys, don't go for a girl. Or vice versa. That's what I did ~ got six kids out of that plan. Not a lot of fun if you actually enjoy quiet mornings . . . quiet evenings . . . quiet anything. Braincells begin their evaporation process at conception.

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  6. And it don't matter how you get them (domestic or imported LOL) - you still lose them braincells in taking care of them. Must be the lack of sleep and that all you focus is directed on only them for some years... Thank heaven they grow :-O
    Met a gal who has two boys in the same agerange as mine (and I think she's round 40) and she was pregnant. Not only that but glowingly told me that this baby is a girl! I just plain don't get it, why the sex of ones children matters at all. Me I'm just happy I got to be a mom. Perdiod.

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