This is part of The Recession is Bullhonkey series, where I share stories of those who have gotten hired and/or started their own businesses (or sometimes both!) since 2008. Naomi Blom sent me an email this October and told me a story that started “In November of 2014 I quit my day job at a credit union”, and I knew I needed to share this story with you.
Eleven years ago, I was going to university for a psychology degree, and was dating my future husband. I ended up moving to northern British Columbia to be with him so that he could finish his apprenticeship, and we could be together. I still worked on my degree through correspondence.
I was on a path that would lead me to success.
Fast forward a few years, I was married, we bought a house in a more southern area of BC, I was back in a physical university, and then had a baby. There was big cloud hanging over my marriage because my husband was working away too much. After some major discussions, my husband found a job that he would be home most of the time, but it meant another move.
I postponed my degree, with thoughts of picking it back up when my daughter was older, and our lives were more settled. We moved, but we weren’t able to sell our house. It was late 2009, and although Canada was not hit by the recession the same as the US, the country was holding it’s breath for the first year to see how we would fair. We tried to sell our house for almost two years, renting it on and off to generate some money. We were lucky that we had a place to stay at my husband’s current job.
I was in a new town, with no friends, and a baby. My mom had given me her old sewing machine a couple of years before. It had stayed in a box all that time. I was pretty bored in the first year in our new town, so I decided to pull out that sewing machine to keep me busy while my daughter napped.
My sister and I decided to start a home business, I would sew baby clothes, and she would knit different items. We set up a Facebook page, and did one craft fair. A couple of months into it, my daughter reached an age where I was comfortable putting her in day care. I decided to look for a part time job to make a bit of money to support my fabric habit, and meet people. My sister also got a full time job around the same time.
I got a job at a credit union, which I enjoyed, but I soon found that juggling a young daughter, a job, and trying to still manage our house in another town was time consuming. My sister and I let our business fall by the wayside.
The next few years flew by. Our house finally sold, but at a financial loss to us. Although Canada was not as hurt by the global recession, we weren’t at the same level as before. We bought another house right away. I started climbing the corporate ladder to help with our financial situation.
For the following three years put in all my effort into my job. My husband’s hours were steadily increasing from 40-50 hours a week, to 50-80 hours a week. At my job, we had not had much turnover. I worked in a neighboring city for 9 months so that I could learn a new position, just to keep me from being bored at my local branch of the credit union. A new position eventually opened up, and I returned to my home branch.
All of a sudden, a couple of months into my new position, there was a major turnover at the branch.
Normally there was 3 people in that department, and 3 people in the department above me. Suddenly, it was me, alone, in my department, and one person in the department above me. The company was scrambling to fill the empty positions, but we were a small town on the outskirts of larger cities. Everyone wanted to work in the larger branches. It took a couple of months to hire more people, and train them. At the same time, our assistant manager was diagnosed with cancer, and had to take a temporary leave.
Once we were back to full capacity a few months later, I realized how unhappy and burnt out I was. My daughter was 4, and spending most of her waking hours in day care. I realized how much I was missing my daughter, and how stressed my husband and I were at home trying to balance it all.
One weekend we went to visit family. We were having a few drinks, and having fun. At one point, everyone had disappeared to check on sleeping kids, refill drinks, etc, and my husband turned to me and said “You’re unhappy. What would make you happy?”
I was stunned. He is not usually the emotionally observant one. It had to be pretty obvious for him to say something like that. I replied “To not work so much. I think that I’m going to quit my job.”
And just like that an old seed of a dream turned into a new seed of a dream.
After mulling over what I wanted for a few weeks, I grew the old idea of me having a sewing business into a new concept of what that would look like. For one thing, my sister was not in the same place that I was with work. I would have to do it alone. Also, I didn’t want to sew baby clothes. My daughter is one of my biggest inspirations for things to sew, and she is no longer a baby.
Another thing is that I wanted to be more conscious of environmental impact. I put my notice in at the credit union in July, but my manager was hopeful to keep me on, if he could. I decided to try working part time, 3-4 days a week, and finishing my work day in time to pick my daughter up from Kindergarten, when she started that fall. I figured that me working would help me jump start cash flow into my business. I worked that new schedule until the end of October 2014. It was then that I realized that I no longer cared about my job at the credit union, and I wasn’t finding enough time at home to put the energy I wanted into my new business idea.
I, once again, put my notice in at the credit union. This time, my manager asked if I was sure, and I held my ground.
I took December 2014 off of any type of work to enjoy some time with my family and enjoy the Christmas holidays. In January 2015 I started to take on projects, explore the fabric world, and start looking for patterns that I wanted to try. I put out only a few items, took in some custom work, and tried a few different ideas.
One of the things that surprised me most was that I began to get lonely. I always have music on in the background, but after a couple of months this wasn’t enough for me. I asked my husband to introduce me to the world of podcasts, which he had been listening to for a couple of years. He gave me a quick tutorial, and off I went. One of the first podcasts that I discovered was Tiffany Han’s Raise Your Hand Say Yes. From here, I was introduced to some other amazing people: Michelle Ward, Meg Worden, Elise Blaha Cripe, and so many more. These people are so courageous and inspiring in my eyes. They are forging their ways in the creative world, and helping other people do the same. Through listening to these amazing people, I am able to start navigating some of my fears, and keep doing the work.
I took last summer off to spend with my daughter, the first time we have spent that much time together since she was a baby. During the summer I saw that Michelle’s course Ditch Your Day Job, on Creative Live, was on sale, so I bought it. After the summer was over, I thought over how I wanted to continue with my business. I needed to make changes, I needed a firm direction and a plan.
I was finally able to watch Ditch Your Day Job, and started a plan. I bought a day planner so that I could write down my plans, instead of just using my phone to schedule my life.
Currently, my vision is slowly taking shape from a general idea to a formed plan.
I am working to become a sustainable business. I am balancing my life with my creative aspirations, and time spent with family.
I thought that I had to follow “the plan” of being either being a career woman in an acceptable, established business, or a housewife. I feel like it has taken me a long time to realize I didn’t have to follow any path, I can figure out where I am going by following my own head and heart, sometimes on a path, sometimes forging my own way. I am so excited that this is my life!
Naomi Blom is just a small town girl, living in a lonely world….. nope, just kidding. She is a small town girl in British Columbia, Canada though. She used to work for a credit union, but she now has her own businesses: Monkey and Turtle Children’s Wear and Wandering Rose Apparel. She is trying to use a more “environmentally gentler” approach by using organic fabrics when she can and mostly making made-to-order clothing to reduce the waste of unsold items. Her customers know that their item is not made in some sweatshop in parts unknown – just in my own little sewing room, in a small town, in Canada. Find her on Facebook at Wandering Rose Apparel and Monkey and Turtle Children’s Wear and on Instagram at @wanderingroseapparel and @monkeyandturtlekids.