They Are Not Long - Ernest Dowson
They are not long, the weeping and the laughter,
Love and desire and hate;
I think they have no portion in us after
We pass the gate.
They are not long, the days of wine and roses,
Out of a misty dream
Our path emerges for a while, then closes
Within a dream.
I came back to my little old blog because this is where it all began. That picture on my blog? It was taken almost exactly 6 years ago, right after I opened my silly little Etsy shop with zero expectations. I feel like I've lived 100 lifetimes since then and become someone I don't even remember becoming.
So allow me to sit on my rocking chair, children, while I tell you a story. How my silly little hobby became a business that at one time provided half my family income. How I went from 0 sales to nearly 30,000 on Etsy and how I ultimately, failed.
Six years ago I was a stay-at-home mom with five children and I was just trying to navigate the economic times, which for us were...bad. My days were spent figuring out how to make it all work. I baked, I sewed, I took care of children. I loved it. But I thought I could help stretch the budget a bit by making soap. Then I thought I could sell a few bars here and there for some extra cash. Oh, poor, sweet, naive 2010 me!
Well, anyway, it ended up exploding more than I could have imagined. On April 16, 2015, I found myself standing on the selling floor at Nasdaq, along with other Etsy sellers, ringing handmade bells as Etsy.com went public. At six months pregnant, I traveled to New York and walked down Broadway. I sold my products at a booth in Times Square. It was amazing and memorable. In the last 6 years, my business has kept food on the table during the worst of the Great Recession. At one time, it paid for a bi-weekly cleaning service and a part-time employee. I bought my children clothes and books and shoes and gadgets. We went to Disneyland twice. And then I had my son, Felix. From the first night in the hospital, I suffered from extreme PPA which meant I couldn't sleep and sat on my bed crying while worrying over my Etsy reviews, which were suffering. I simply couldn't keep up anymore and my husband and son were taking over most tasks. After I got over the worst of my depression, which took at least 6 months, I no longer had the desire to outsell everybody. All I wanted was...peace.
Yet, how could I continue contributing to my family in the way we had become used to? So I soldiered on. I stopped being able to create new fragrances and products, so I just kept making the same old things. I lost my competitive edge. I didn't keep up with changes, I didn't keep my product line fresh. I phoned it in for a good year. And it showed! This past summer, I found out I was pregnant with my seventh child, a girl after six boys. A child that will likely be my last child ever. I do not want a repeat of July 2015. I need to find joy in my life again and move on to the next step. I don't have the energy to compete with other shops, I'm not good at innovating right now. Basically, I suck. I'm no Estee Lauder. And that's okay.
This fall, I enrolled in Northwest Nazarene University in order to ultimately get my Master's Degree. I have plans for the future again! I'm a full-time student at 36, pregnant with my seventh child! I have a son that will be going off to college himself in 2018. It is a busy and exciting time. I have cried a lot of tears at the prospect of my Etsy shop becoming a footnote in my life, or maybe a sidebar. It certainly will not be the focus of my day-to-day activities as is has for so long. I will still continue making products but likely I will cut my product line down by at least half.
It has been a grieving process realizing that I need to do this, it feels like somebody died. I've cried a lot of tears over this. But I hope, in time, it will just be a happy memory of what I did from 2010-2016, and I won't feel the embarrassment that I currently feel at having not "made it big" or "created an empire" or whatever if was that I was so hell-bent on doing for so long. I've learned so much in the last six years. Mostly, that where I am truly happy and fulfilled is right here, planning my weekly grocery shopping or baking bread. It was quite a ride, and now that this era is coming to an end, I'm both sad and grateful.
Thank you to everyone that helped me make it happen.
I will be back!