My sister-in-law Rebecca just got a great feature on the Etsy blog about her company Schone Bride. I love how candid she was about the fact that she wasn’t an overnight success, and it really inspired me to share my story. It doesn’t feel that long ago that she and I began our journey as entrepreneurs together. That’s right! I actually left my secure job at PMK, one of the top celebrity entertainment PR firms in LA, to go into business with Rebecca.
It was 2007, and she had just started her company, which was the first eco-friendly maternity line that existed. She was really on the cusp of that trend, and had a vision of not only being in the business of fair trade, but also of giving back—later I would get her company in O, the Oprah Magazine touted as the “really good guy of the month,” but I digress. We soon realized that despite having a lot of success selling to some of the best retailers in the country and getting tons of amazing press, we had not discussed at all what our partnership would look like. Rookie mistake number one.
We could not have been less on the same page, which was simply a failure to communicate before we hit the ground running. But you don’t know what you don’t know! Soon after, the recession hit, and I’ll never forget the day Rebecca walked in our apartment totally defeated. Having been cheated by so many factories and faced with many small boutiques who couldn’t pay her, she packed up shop, moved back to New York, and basically had to start over. Etsy was instrumental in rebuilding her life and giving her a platform to try something new. As for me, I had no choice but to get another job.
If you’ve ever worked for yourself and then had to go back to working for someone else, you totally get me—it sucks. I felt like a total loser. When I left PMK, I sent out my new email address and exciting business venture plans to my entire rolodex, and not even four months later, had to send another email that I was now looking for a job. Even though Rebecca and I didn’t work together all that long in the grand scheme of things, it was long enough for me to realize that I enjoy being the boss. After several months at a great lifestyle PR firm, I quit the job over the phone—something I am not proud of, and something I definitely don’t recommend. When I hung up the phone, I sobbed my eyes out, sure that I would be a total failure and never work again. That night I picked up the book The Four-Hour Work Week, and it changed my life.
No, it did not teach me how to only work four hours a week—I’m sorry to report. But it gave me the courage to pick myself up and the motivation to start something on my own. I started this blog while I was freelancing as a publicist. I had garnered my first real client—a baby clothing line—that was a natural fit after having worked with Rebecca’s maternity line. Soon, my dear friend and former colleague from PMK, would become my new partner to form SW PR Shop.
Though Jenn decided to give up her partnership to be a full-time mom three years ago, we remain great friends and the business goes on. It was an extremely hard transition for me—and I’m sure for her—but the choice was mine: I could either lose what we had worked so hard to build, or I could learn what it really means to be a CEO.
It means you never stop learning.
PSS. Here’s my very first business card that I had made when I was in 8th Grade! I had a business selling t-shirts and earrings that I made, and would tote them around in a little basket at school. *Info on card removed for privacy