This week I’m celebrating the launching into my new life by sharing the path that led me here. Follow along all week!
The crafty-ness started at home, then I went to college and learned to knit. Yesterday, I ran a business, but today, I move and lose it.
After working at the Kil'n Time for 2 years, I wanted a change. Jay & I had always wanted to move to Tennessee and we decided now was the time. We were young, underemployed (neither of our jobs required the Bachelor's degrees we had) and had few responsibilities. 2 weeks later, we lived in Johnson City, TN.
We launched blondechicken.com (it looked a bit different then) the week after we moved. I was selling my handdyed yarn straight from this website, not Etsy. I waited for the sales.
I imagined that my experience as a store manager of a pottery studio would provide me with another interesting, arty job. After a month of searching, talking, applying and interviewing, I had landed two jobs: office temp at the local state university and barista at Starbucks in the evenings.
In July and August 2006, I worked 80-90 hours a week. I had no time to make any yarn, let alone market my “new” business.
By September, I quit Starbucks and was busy temping around campus. I worked full-time, had all the responsibilities of a regular employee, but had no benefits or time off. I temped in the same position for nearly a year before I was hired to do the job I was already doing.
This time in my life is the hardest to write about. It was the “dark before the dawn” or whatever, but at the time, I didn't know there would be a dawn.
I started to fear that I was an office drone and would always be an office drone. My coworkers were miserable women in their 60s who hated what they did, and had hated it for 40 years. They monthly counted down until retirement, weekly counted down to payday and daily counted down until Friday.
It sucked me under.
One day my mom and I were wandering the local art supply store. The owner commented on my mom's shawl, one I had knit from my handspun yarn. My mom (of course) gushed about the beautiful yarn I made and the shopowner asked me to sell some in her shop.
In April 2007, I gave her 12 skeins and they hung in the attached art gallery.
Not a one of them sold and she returned them to me in October 2007.
After a year of the soul-sucking, I got a job in a different department in November 2007. Same job, better pay and MUCH better working conditions. When I went home from work, I actually had energy! I even had something approaching ambition.
In one of my energy-filled Saturdays, just a week after I started the new job, I took pictures of those unsold skeins of handspun and listed them on Etsy. (you can see them here)
They sold by December!
So I spun more, listed more, they sold!
By January, I was spending my days (at the day job) reading about succeeding on Etsy and my nights spinning.
And that was it. I dedicated myself to building a plan that would get me OUT of cubicle-land and INTO the doing what I wanted. I read everything I could about small businesses. I learned all I could about the yarn industry. I tried every marketing strategy suggested. I spent hours in the Etsy forums and reading business blogs.
A year later, January 2009, I made the official Quit-My-Dayjob Plan. More on that tomorrow!
PS. Don’t forget: I’m answering any and all questions on Twitter, today at 4 pm EST. Just put #AskTheChicken in your tweet (at any time) and I’ll answer! You can follow along and see all the questions and answers here.
PPS. The sale! Don’t forget there’s a yarn sale with discounts for both new and returning customers! Grab your yarn right here: http://blondechicken.etsy.com