In Flux

If you follow me on instagram, you might have noticed a couple changes and been like, "wait, what?" I'm not just talking about my pink hair, so let me explain.

Writing honestly about this has been hard because so much of my identity has been tied up in being a designer, and owning Expect. But, lately, I've been feeling like it's time for a change. Late last year, I experienced a painful epiphany: running my business wasn't fun anymore. Being the girl behind Expect was a stress-inducing, frustrating process that kept pulling me further and further away from who I was as a designer and as a person. Rather than spending my time making cool stuff, I used my hours chasing customers on social media, trying to launch new and desirable products, and frankly, comparing myself to others.

In December, I was was met with a failure so epic, it felt business-ending. I was exhausted. I was burnt out. I was unhappy.

It was at a craft fair. I had paid a huge booth fee, make hundreds of pieces of inventory, driven two hours, and set up the booth on my own. I had made a huge investment in this one day both financially and emotionally. My hopes were so high that this would be the moment my business finally took off. When the market opened, the room filled with potential customers and I was excited. But then, I stood in my booth for hours waiting to make some sales. All around me, it seemed like other makers were selling out of their goods, making connections, and raking in the cash. As the minutes ticked by, I started to panic. I rearranged my booth. I started slashing prices. I tried every sales technique I had in my arsenal. 

I fought back tears as I felt my hopes at making any sales that day melt away. Over the course of the eight hours in that convention center, I felt my business dying.

Was it my designs? Was I, myself, off-putting in some way? Were my prices too high? 

By the time the show had ended, I had make three sales, and I was sure Expect was finished. I kept thinking about Mean Girls.

I loaded my car full of the merch that I made but hadn't sold, drove out of the lot, and headed home. Before I even made it a few blocks down the road, I had become so blinded by my tears, I had to pull over. 

I had failed. My business was never going to take off. This whole thing was a terrible idea. 

I pulled into a strangers driveway and sobbed. 

At the same time that I realized that I didn't want to run Expect anymore, I felt that I was being forced to break up with something I was still in love with. It was horrible.

When the tears subsided, I drove home, calling each member of my family. I wallowed in my sadness, indulged myself in their words of kindness. It's going to be okay. 

Over the next few days, I vacillated between wanting to throw away and delete all things Expect, and desperately wanting to take a defibrillator to the operation and make it work. I eventually decided that it didn't have to be either-or. Expect was my first business, my first passion, and while I wasn't ready to say goodbye to it, I felt it's time to take a break.

Over the holidays, I allowed myself some space to rest, think through my options, and change my mind as many times as I wanted to. It was such a tender gift to give myself. For the first time in what felt like months, a weight was lifted and I was able to just breathe.

They always say that when a door closes, a window opens. And that's just what happened to me. Just as I decided to hit pause on Expect, a new opportunity arose.  Brooke, my boss at Orange Blossom Special Events, the wedding planning company I was sporadically working for, asked me to become more involved. It couldn't have come at a better time, or made me feel more valued. I was intrigued and excited, and so pleased to be able to put my talents and abilities to good use.

After a three-day retreat with Brooke and the other Blossoms, I felt connected back to my life and to those around me. Bonded by our passions for the wedding industry and a few too many whiskeys by the hot tub, I felt as though I was finally one with my coworkers at Orange Blossom. I felt happy. And the more I became interested and invested, the more it felt right to give Expect a rest.

After years of struggling for money, feeling lonely and isolated in running a business by myself, and unhappy with my level of perceived success, working for OBSE seems like everything I had been missing: more financial stability, camaraderie and community, and fulfilling and meaningful work.

I love being part of a couple's special day. It's a wonderful thing to witness so many beautiful moments, and to know that, no matter how small, I was able to help in making someone's big day go more smoothly. It's a dream.

All this is to say, I haven't closed down Expect -- everything is still live for made-to-orders, but I'm just shifting my focus to wedding-related endeavors. I've decided to start handcrafting some bridal accessories for sale now live on my new etsy shop, MarriedAndBright, and continue working for Orange Blossom making wedding dreams come true!

Sometimes life throws you curves. I'm trying to roll with it. Thanks for sticking around.