Don’t worry, not that kind of baby … another kind of baby.
My jewelry baby, kathy lo rocks, LLC.
Oh the agony & the ecstasy of leaving something behind and grabbing the ropes of another. I have to admit, on the outside it looks smooth and easy. When you peek under the hood it’s a whole lot messier.
I want to share my experience of how I made the leap. Because sometimes it feels like everyone else has it all together. And in reality what seems elegant, glossy & smooth often has a lot of cracks, dirt and rough edges.
I closed my jewelry business because it was finally, finally, finally time.
I had hung onto it for a long time.
Likely longer than necessary.
I knew years ago it was time to move on.
But I couldn’t.
And while I was figuring out how to leap, I was also pondering, why was it so dang hard to let go of my jewelry business. People leave stuff all the time … relationships, jobs, houses, the dishes … In fact, I prided myself on being an excellent and wise decision maker. Friends often seek my counsel. Why was I torturing myself with this one?
The first and most obvious reason is that my jewelry business was my BIG DREAM for such a long time. I worked in corporate jobs which were fantastic in various ways but mostly just sucked the life out of me. It would take an entire post to describe that experience and you can read it here.
Suffice to say I wanted to break free and be more creative. I dreamed, talked, debated, agonized, moaned, fantasized, strategized, … about my exit. … until I finally did.
I went on to build a very successful jewelry business. It wasn’t easy and it wasn’t fast. And it certainly wasn’t one of those stories where I put up my website and boom, the orders just started FLOODING in. It was 2001 after all.
Getting it up & going was a struggle and I really had to hustle. There were so many times when I cried, moped, felt like a dismal failure, asked what the heck is wrong with me, wondered if I could really make it succeed … I am super stubborn and unbelievably persistent so giving up doesn’t come naturally to me. In fact, strangely enough, I never even considered that option.
I even took another job while I was developing my jewelry business which meant I could only give it attention in the evening & weekends. But I persevered and I did it. I created a business with employees, payroll and the taxes that always accompany success.
Fast forward 10 years and I had burned and fried the part of my brain responsible for new jewelry designs. I was creative in other areas but not in design.
However, I loved running the business and I excelled at it. I liked developing out all kinds of cool techniques and inventive technology applications. I enjoyed the challenge of figuring out how to forecast revenue, budget for inventory, hire & manage employees, plan trade shows. And since I had a strong marketing background it easy for me to grow the business via advertising, promotion, acquiring new customers and implementing technology to make everything faster, cheaper, easier.
For a while this was fine and I was making a lot of money. Eventually the lack of creative juice began to choke the business.
I knew I had to make a change. But I couldn’t do it.
I was really stuck. I hired umpteen coaches, counselors, therapists, consultants, psychics, took courses, joined masterminds, shouted affirmations, meditated, wished, hoped, prayed. And nothing could help me make the big leap.
I tried to fall back in love with my business … but I couldn’t rekindle the spark.
And I couldn’t leave it either. It was too much a part of my identity.
After all, I was KLO, Kathy Lo, the jewelry designer.
The market was changing, San Francisco was changing and I was changing (gosh, that kinda sounds like puberty).
And I knew it was time. I was telling everyone that I was transitioning. And I kinda was and I kinda wasn’t.
And I still couldn’t make the leap.
My landlord announced that they were planning to demolish our studio building to build condos. My assistant suddenly decided to upend her marriage & relocate to Jamaica.
And finally I made the leap.
Actually it wasn’t even a leap. A leap sounds graceful, beautiful and a bit Swan-Lake like.
This was more of a drunken stumble.
I officially launched my new business, kathyloknows.com, and within 2 weeks I had 2 clients.
And yet I still didn’t let go of my jewelry business.
I devised a super neat plan to remain somewhat in the jewelry business. I developed a line of really cool graphic jewelry that I could outsource and would not require a production studio.
My plan was to was to put the new really cool graphic jewelry on the kathylo.com site and swap out the custom jewelry that required a production studio to produce. And it would all be done in one swift, pretty change of hands. Easy-Peasy.
I would still do the NY NOW trade show because how could I give up my coveted booth. I would exhibit at the show since it is fun, inspiring and I love visiting with all my “show friends”. Never mind that it is a mountain of non-stop, round-the-clock work to prepare for a trade show. Or that the costs are equivalent to buying a small car. It was all ok “cuz I’m just keeping my toe in the water”.
And I realized I wasn’t keeping my toe in the water.
My head was stuck in the sand. I was in denial and it was time to move on.
I finally accepted I didn’t have the bandwidth to do all this. The plan might have sounded great in my head or when I recounted it to friends. The truth is no way could it work.
I couldn’t run a production jewelry business half-assed. You just can’t be half pregnant.
You gotta go full throttle. If you want to succeed you have to give it all you’ve got. And I knew I couldn’t give my consulting business the attention it needed to blossom if I still had jewelry clients around my neck.
So I made finally made the decision. I put up the splash page. I sent out the emails. I told the trade show administrators that I wasn’t coming back.
kathy lo rocks is no longer creating jewelry.
How does it feel?
It feels weird
It feels good.
It feels sad.
It feels right.
It’s definitely the right decision. I have a ton of experience skills & knowledge and I can help so many entrepreneurs and small businesses. And I did not have the time to go out there and do that. Now I do.
How do we know when the goose is cooked, the party is over and it’s time to close the door and move on?
I was waiting for a big sign, a big push, somebody to do it for me. I was waiting for the ANSWER to COME TO ME. Like in a dream. Or a vision. A burning bush. Or maybe someone would just shake me hard and make me see the light.
It was ultimately up to me make the big leap.
Looking back, yeah, I should have I done it sooner. Did I need those years of agony to make the decision?
Yes, there should be a period of self-reflection, investigation and thought so you are not making rash decisions.
For me it is realizing that I was not happy and accepting that’s not ok. I needed to give myself permission to move on. I had done it. I had succeeded. I could move on.
I was also afraid of failure. And afraid of the pain of starting over.
I wanted to swing from one tree branch to another without hitting the ground. I had built a successful business. Was it stupid to start all over? And possibly fail? I had to let go of that notion. I had to take the risk of failing once again.
At the end of the day it comes down to trusting yourself.
I could have trusted my instincts sooner. I could have reminded myself it is ok to start over. I did it once. I can do it again.
All those coaches, therapists, psychics, healers … they enabled me to take small steps. And maybe that is the pace that I move .. itty bitty steps. Some people take giant leaps. Knowing myself now I could have figured out how to take exponentially more small steps.
We are all on our own path and we move down that path at our own speed.
What dream are you afraid of leaving, decision to scared to make … you know deep down it’s right but you are still stuck?