I had to laugh it off when a well-meant friend referred to my adventure with ilex.every.day as my “sort of” business. The fact is, it’s true: I’ve “sort of” seen some successes. I’ve also seen a lot of failures. I’ve had a steep learning curve, and until lately, I’ve hesitated to call what I do a real business venture, comparing myself to others I perceive as more successful.
But here’s the thing: sometimes, the hard work comes long before the payoff. I’ve spent night after night coming up with patterns, dyeing wool, and comparing suppliers for quality, reliability, and price. I’ve lost sleep working night shifts to earn the capital to invest in a new spinning wheel, photography and inventory. I’ve had to put a brave face on when I’ve received rejection letter after rejection letter for handmade craft shows.
But I’m also more excited than ever about turning my unexpected passion into a tool for supporting my family while raising my children, and meeting the ever-present need in the world for beauty.
I’ve recently added a collection of yarns I’ve dyed over the past few months. Each hank represents a mile marker in my journey through the experience of motherhood coupled with small business ownership. Into Deep Water reminds me of the time in March of this year, when walked from the white sands into the deeper waters of the Caribbean, and attempted to body surf with a long-time friend. Pink & Blue Boo reminds me of celebrating Easter despite weeping for the loss of baby dreams all during the Easter church service, and then choosing to dye a pretty yarn to remind myself that baby dreams can still come true.
There’s a huge mile marker coming up: a photoshoot with a real professional photographer! Just the thought gives me butterflies. I swing from excitement that I’ll finally have the beginnings of a beautiful portfolio, to anxiety that my pieces won’t stand up to the scrutinizing eye of the camera. So far, the best cure for the roller coaster is consistent work: dyeing, spinning and finishing pieces.
And really, that’s the cure for all my doubts and butterflies. It has been all along: just work. Make dream yarns a reality, and make dream garments a reality. Somewhere, someone else is dreaming of the same thing, wishing someone would make it for them. That’s the person I want to meet in the marketplace. And every time I meet a fellow dreamer who recognizes my dream, my heart leaps, and it’s not about the exchange of money for product; it’s because of that recognition between souls.
All my success to date may be messy, and the straight-up failures may totally outweigh the successes, but until I’m done spinning dreams into beautiful reality, I’ll keep working.