Failure is Just the Middle of Success | Reflecting on 2017

It amazes me what a difference a year makes. This time last December I was knee deep, hell neck deep, in running my own small business, an online and Pop-Up women’s boutique and only having enough energy and sleep to look about five minutes ahead.

What started out as a side project I took on with a friend and mentor, somehow turned into a full-time retail business, which had ended up overtaking my entire life. It also taught me countless lessons I am forever grateful for and an experience I wouldn’t trade for the world. But ultimately what it taught me, is that sometimes what at first might feel as a failure, can make you see a much clearer path to success.

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“sometimes what at first might feel as a failure, can make you see a much clearer path to success.”

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When our 90-day holiday brick and mortar Pop-Up Shop was over in January 2017, I was part saddened and many parts relieved. After working seven days a week and late into the night most days, I was running purely on fumes. Feeling at the same time like I was able to accomplish something great (getting a full on 1,200 sq foot store off the ground in just a few weeks, staffing it and generating sales I had never thought would be possible), to feeling like a total failure at home (not being able to spend any time with my girls and husband, running myself completely into the ground physically) having my life completely out of balance. I had kept telling myself, “when these 90 days are over I will have a bit of time to regroup, plan better and do the next Pop-Up or permanent store bigger and better”.

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It was only about a month after, when I had finally finished catching up with all the QuickBooks backlogs and gaining back some much-needed weight, that I could slowly start to see that indeed maybe this wasn’t the right path for me at this time. That managing an independent retail web and brick & mortar store singlehandedly, and having the type of personality (also something I had to learn!) which doesn’t yield much to delegating, while trying to somehow be a good mother, wife, friend, and all the things that go into managing a full life, well……it was just impossible to sustain. At least not the way that I was going about it.

My dreams of spending crisp early mornings and quiet afternoons in the shop, creating amazing whimsical window displays, beautiful merchandising, and finding special pieces to sell were quickly replaced with the realities of payroll, staffing hardships and the fact that if I wasn’t at the shop, playing stylist to every customer who walked through the door, sales successes would just not be on the horizon.

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After looking at several long-term lease options, my husband began to slowly and cautiously pose the question, “Are you sure you want to do this V? To really do this?” I remember standing outside a quaint little empty shop we were considering, for what seemed like an entire day, clutching my cup of coffee and imagining what I could do with this blank canvas. A million questions running through my mind. “Is retail really dying? Can a small store really survive? What if I can’t get it to be as successful as our Pop-Up was?” At the same time, I had just about every family member and friend weighing in with their advice, which was a mixed bag of “go for your dreams!” and “are you nuts, don’t you see what’s happening to retail?”

In the end, I made the painful (at least at the time) decision, that signing a long-term lease was not a wise decision, and decided to take a little time to figure out my next move, aka have a quarter life crisis. And that’s where the beauty of life comes in. Just when you think that you are at one of the lowest points you have ever been, and feeling confused and like you won’t be able to find the right path again, if you are open to seeing it, life will give you small opportunities to move forward. It won’t hand you anything, but if you are willing to say “I will go for it!!” the small open doors will always be there. But it’s up to you to run through them with all your might!

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“the small open doors of opportunity will always be there, but it’s up to you to run through them with all your might!”

That’s the biggest lesson I learned. You can choose to wallow in your perceived failure (especially when you think that this may be how others view your situation as well), and let it completely drag you down, or you can take from the experience what it had to give you and move on to bigger and better things, having learned countless lessons you wouldn’t have otherwise had the opportunity to experience.

Fast forward six months and I can honestly say I’ve never been happier. I have an amazing job which excites and fulfills me, and gives me amazing opportunities. I have been able to have time (be it mostly at midnight, when the rest of my household is snoring) to work on this blog again and get my creative heart pumping, which in itself is an amazing gift. To spend real time with my family and friends again. (especially with my dad, who has become my blog partner, shooting all my content and being just as excited about new ideas and projects as I am…. if not more!)

But most importantly, I have opened myself to just saying “YES!” To new opportunities, new friends, new adventures. To stop being so scared to fail. To finally learn that sometimes getting to be on the other side of failure makes you realize that it wasn’t a failure at all. It was just the middle of success.

 

Bag (c/o) Hermes Black Togo Birkin via The-Collectory, an amazing independent women owned company!

Happy New Year! I hope you find all the success you reach for this year!

-V

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