People ask me all the time if I have the best job in the world. "Don't you just love it?" They ask, eyes moist and smiles wide. I feel like it's my responsibility to respond "Oh, yeah, it's great!" even when I'm not sure that's how I feel.
For the past five years I've been running Chicory Farm Soap, either as a hobby, as a full time job, or as a full time job with a part time employee. Products have come and go, goats have been born and passed away, and opportunities have sometimes materialized and sometimes just gotten me really, really excited (here's where I name drop TJ Maxx (happened!!) and Nordstrom (didn't happen...)). Our business model has changed from focusing on craft shows to wholesale to online retail. But one thing has stayed the same: I've always made the products, and I've always sold them. And another thing: I've almost always done it alone.
Last year, around this time, I had a few revelations regarding my role as an entrepreneur. The first was that I didn't want to do work that I despised doing (looking at you, social media, marketing, and sales!). The second was that I couldn't work alone any longer. Being alone all day, every day works for some people, but I found it to be depressing.
Having figured those two key pieces out, I felt I had two choices:
- Hire employees or find a business partner to grow the business and do the parts I hated doing;
- Scale the business back to hobby-sized, and get a regular job around human beings.
In the entrepreneur world, it seems there's nothing more terrifying that an office job (except maybe losing your shirt on your failed business). Especially for crafters, working in a 9-5 job seems to be a fate worth than death. But taking the risk to find a business partner, or gamble a few months' wages on employee salaries, seemed too scary for me, so I decided to try a Real Job.
I'm not sure how option 1 would have turned out for me, but option 2 has been excellent. While it hasn't always been easy to step back and work in an office, it has been worth it. It's not so easy to talk about, but depression and anxiety are much higher in entrepreneurs than in the general population, and I know from my experience being around other people and getting a regular paycheck does a lot to alleviate that stress.
I'm not sure what the future holds for Chicory Farm Soap or me, but I trust it'll all work out in the end. In the meantime, I'll be here, selling soap online, at a few wholesalers, and at two local craft shows each year (Corn Hill Arts Festival in Rochester, NY and Christkindl Market in Canandaigua, NY). I hope to see you around!
P.S. Do you love doing those things I really, really hate doing? We're talking social media, marketing, cold calling, sales--basically anything that's not making soap and filling orders. Have you ever thought it would be AMAZING to run a natural body care business, or any business that wants to make a difference in the world with the products it sells? Drop me a line! I'm always thinking of what's next for Chicory Farm Soap. Maybe you can help me figure that out?