Wednesday, August 02, 2006

The Growth of a Dream

Finally. What I've been trying to write for way too long now. One of the things I juggle in my life is having a business while doing the other stuff - motherhood, working a full-time job, trying to get published, etc. Sometimes I see how much people have accomplished at an age earlier than myself and I wish I had been a little more proactive when I was younger - mainly in regards to buying a house and sticking to my guns about NEVER having a credit card (at least not until I had a full-time job). But as I tell people I know who hold on a little too long to their regrets - thus making themselves somewhat miserable - I made the best choices I could at the time and punishing myself for the not-so-great ones for the rest of my life is simply counter-productive and an energy drainer. Besides, I moved to this state alone when I was 24 and that still shocks a lot of people around here. I had my full-time job; the best apartment ever with the most flexible and non-nosey landlady; I put myself through grad school and in all that time did lots of self-exploration to a point where even counselors are amazed at how self-aware I am at 35 when so many people continue to live in a state of denial. For me and what I want to do in life, these are not bad accomplishments. So I get out of my momentary funk and remember that I have done some other things right too. Two of them call me mommy. One of them calls me wife. One of my favorites is my business and this year, we've gotten the greatest encouragement ever to keep doing what we're doing.

We are Village Works Enterprises LLC and we make puzzles. What kind is limitless really, but for now our main product is greeting card puzzles, with custom jobs tucked in for extra profit cushion. We started this too long ago to state but we didn't become an LLC until last year so that is the year we list as our official start of business. It took a while in the start to figure out how to do what we wanted to do. The actual first pieces of artwork didn't arrive until maybe 2 or 3 years after that. (Aside: If you want to start a business while working a full-time job, be prepared to wait for things to come to pass but you have to actively wait; work and wait.) We were too excited. Just the best stuff ever. Now we had a physical manifestation of our vision and we learned that once other folk could see what we saw, they too got excited.

Fast forward to this year and my partner attends a meeting. She is part of a business savings program that matches what we save for our business 3 times over. They have classes to attend on all sorts of topics. One night she attended the best meeting EVER and learned something we had not learned in the X number of years we had been doing this - there is REAL help for small businesses. Not your standard help from SBA or SCORE, which we love. We haven't met with our SCORE counselor in quite some time because we joined a group that he was actually a part of and got the same sort of help. We loved our counselor. Still do. He was a tremendous help and best of all he loved what we showed him. This man was our complete opposite - retired, white male - and he bought the dream. Truth be told, that was a boost for our confidence. It showed we had in fact crossed that all too crucial racial line. Our stuff looked like us but appealed to the masses. (Sorry. Tangent was a little longer than I expected.) Nope, we found out that in our part of Connecticut (can't speak for the rest of the country), there are people who honestly want to GIVE US MONEY via loans that don't hurt at all. My partner found out about groups that somehow had eluded us all this time. No small feat given her major connections in our community via her full-time job and my own work with the public/community through the various things I have done in my free time over the years. How had we not heard of these places?

She called me after the meeting. It was late and there was no way she would have called unless she REALLY needed to share this. I got excited too. I could finally do what I've been avoiding - add the numbers. Find out how much it will really cost to do all we want to do. For the first time, there's a chance we could get the financial help we need to pull this off the way it should be done.

We love our puzzles. We love making them and seeing the faces of the people we make them for. We love doing something that may benefit our children not just financially but who knows. They may want to take it over someday or take it somewhere better. We love helping the community. (We give 10% of our profits to specific charities and we're working on spotlighting a local cause every so often to help in addition.) I personally love the creative side of it all and taking what someone wants and making it better. We had 2 satisfied custom customers this month. One already asked us to do a second job. The other brought lots of requests for our biz card from the
people who received the puzzle. The web site will be redesigned this year and look way more professional than it does now. We've got so much going it, it's starting to look too cluttered for my taste. Besides, I maintain that site right now and I have reached a place where I'd rather let the people who know how to do the things that are a chore for me, be the ones to do them. I want to concentrate on what I do best -developing the product and telling people about it (not the same as sales, however. Wish it were!) The new catalog is in production, the logo is reworked just a tad and we continue to federally protect every new piece of artwork we have created for our company. We have 1 storeowner I met just last week (I saw her store and decided to just walk in and see what happened) who has said she will listen to us in September and another one we've been wanting to talk to so now I will go ahead and make that move to set up a meeting because we designed something just for her that we think her customers will like.

It feels good but it's far from time to quit my day job. (Thank God I love my day job.) The hope is to get to a place a few years from now where I can quit and finally work from home permanently. The dream is to do that and be a published writer too and eventually move into coaching later in life - all while raising my 2(?) kids and showing them that they can do all things in Christ who strengthens them. The goal is to live for them the life of someone who knows her God-given gifts and talents and uses them and they will want to do the same because true joy lives in being who you are and doing what God meant for you to do.

In the end, that's all either of us wants to do. Help other people achieve their dreams and discover who God made them be and what He made them to do. I couldn't ask for a better gig.

QUICK UPDATE: Village Works Enterprises gets 10 seconds of fame!

I was driving in to work this morning and on the radio I was listening to 98.7 KISS FM out of New York. They had a segment called Side Hustle Wednesdays and I got in on the very first try! The screener sounded intrigued. I was on that call for a total of 24 minutes and 43 seconds, praying I didn't lose the call in that Bermuda Triangle-like spot you pass when you hit Westport on I-95. The actual conversation was about 10 seconds but I told the tri-state area what we do and our website address. I can't wait to look at StatCounter tonight! Calling in on the radio is always a long shot but it was free advertising and worth a try. Another lesson in following your heart. It always pays in the end - hopefully literally!


Kerri. said...

What a fantastic adventure. I can't wait to say "I knew you when..." ;)

Best of luck!

theresa said...

I'm so excited for you. Now....why are you listening to that awful NY radio station? I live in NY and only listen to CT stations.

I know you'll do well. I love puzzles and I buy them all the time as gifts.

Looney Mom said...

Sorry I haven't been by in while. It sounds like things are going well for you. That is awesome! May God grant you the desires of your heart. It's evident how you trust in Him. What an example to your beautiful children.

Monica said...

Thanks, ya'll! (Lovely picture there, Theresa!). Interesting you say it's evident that I am trusting in God. At this time in my life it's hard to do what I know I should. Even God said He knows a woman will be become divided after marriage and kids enter the picture. Still no excuse for not being more consistent with Him. Yet, yes, Liz. I do trust Him. I just have to or else, why do anything at all, you know?