Three weeks ago Sten and I returned home from our honeymoon in Paris. If you've never been to Paris, please go immediately. I always wanted to go, but it was never on the top of my list. It seemed so cliche, and I went through a phase where I felt all of Europe was too pretentious. But, thanks to a cheap flight, my sweetheart and I found ourselves honeymooning in Paris, and I found myself enamored with the little specialty stores. There were salt-and-pepper-shaker stores and antique brooch stores, denim jacket stores and jelly stores, coffee maker stores and saxophone stores. They had lovely little storefronts, quaint little displays, and eclectic offerings. And the characters inside the shops usually made it worth a trip inside just to meet them.
Leading up to the wedding and honeymoon, I'd been focusing more on Lightbox than on Hattie Rex. I was ready to start this new phase of my career and my life. Hattie became bored for me about a year ago, and I found myself wanting out. Not out in that I would have sold the company, but I knew I was ready to take on a different role. I knew that my highest and best use was not to be physically in the store every day. Besides, the store already ran without me there -- I had figured that out a couple years ago.
But if I wasn't in the store every day, what would I do? I have no children and I like to work, so not working wasn't an option. And I had this desire to help people and to empower other small business owners to understand how to make the business side of things work. And here we are.
But in Paris, the little stores reminded me of my own little store, and my heart missed Hattie. I daydreamed about the display upgrades I would put in, about expanding the blog, about our window displays and sandwich boards. And I knew that I wasn't done with Hattie. Nor was she done with me.
I was excited about Hattie in a way I hadn't felt in years. I decided to devote more of my time and attention on Hattie. I had a Lightbox project wrapping up around the same time, so it was an easy transition.
And I started to take some hard looks at the business I built, including the cracks in the foundation, areas of my own weaknesses, and the core values behind the company.
A friend/client of mine was reading a book called read a book called The E-Myth (link to Amazon) and recommended that I read it. "You figured all this stuff out on your own," she said, "but if you read this, it can help you understand the process for the rest of us."
So, I read it, and I loved it. It's about putting systems in place, and building from a solid foundational core. After reading it, I saw my holes in Hattie. Yes, I figured out the systems to put in place to let the business run without me, but there was definite room for improvement. And I can't walk away when there's still room to improve! I decided to apply some of the concepts in the book toward Hattie.
The first was establishing a core value. I thought--and wrote-- about what I want and what I don't want; what I daydream about; how I want to feel on a daily basis, and what I wanted to be as a kid. I thought about achievement and satisfaction and my strengths and weaknesses. And through those exercises and soul-searches, I came to a huge AHA moment. I knew I had found the core.
I started Hattie Rex and Lightbox for the same reason. And I didn't even know it.
It's the refusal to settle.
I made my first dog tag when I was unhappy with all of my options so I made my own. I refused to settle for the uninspired, off-the-shelf dog tags out there.
As I devoted myself to making an extraordinary dog tag, I also found myself refusing to settle for the off-the-shelf life I was living.
10 years later, I live in a gorgeous place, married to an amazing man, and my business still works while I'm honeymooning in Paris. Who says you can't have it all?
I started Lightbox because I wanted to help people make their own lives if they're not happy with the one that's available. Just because you don't see anyone in real life living the life you want, it doesn't mean it's not a possibility. It just means you haven't seen it yet.
Hattie Rex creates lovable dog tags the same way Lightbox creates lovable businesses: by seeing the possibilities and making it happen.
I've been feeling conflicted about my desire to devote more of my time to Hattie. It felt like a failure to go back, or like I'm giving up on my new business. But getting down to the core of what I love to do, and realizing that both of them stem from the same place, I feel inspired and ready for the next phase of my career. I trust in my intuition, for drawing me back to Hattie before I was too far gone, and for reminding me that there's still so much to learn when you're a person who refuses to settle.