WAHM Tips: Dealing with Discouragement

I’ve been really excited lately because we’ve put an extra push into expanding the soap business. I’ve been D R E A M I N G of the day that Brent came home from work and said he was ready to renovate the garage into a super cool Soap Studio for me. And it happened on my birthday back in April! We have finally gotten the transformation complete and are in the process of moving all my STUFF into the new studio. Now that all the soap is out there, it doesn’t look like I have that much and it’s exciting to think about having all that space to fill up with stock. Now I can start pursuing more whole sale orders and I’ve even had one really close attempt at getting the soap into Whole Foods Market. (There is a bit of a conflict of interest because my husband works for them and deals directly with buying body care items…) This is a really huge really big deal for me! 

One of the first things I did was buy a giant area rug to cover the old garage floor. One of the first things the kids did was spill an entire bucket of paint on it. Can I be really candid here and admit that I cried like a baby as I attempted to scrub the paint out? I did. I was so frustrated! This was just like the time last year that I decided I was going to do a bunch of craft festivals and bought a fancy tent. I was doing a trial run of setting it up in the backyard…by myself…with all three kids underfoot. A big wind blew up and nearly took the tent, and me hanging onto it, into the side of the neighbor’s house. The tent got all bent up. “How am I going to go do this in public by myself with the kids?” Was my first thought. Obviously, I couldn’t. I sat in my yard with my crumpled tent, totally frustrated that once again I was going to have to give up my hopes and my dreams because I had kids. As I scrubbed the paint out of the carpet, I pretty much reconciled my mind to that all over again. “Who do I think I am? I can’t run a business AND keep having all these kids. I should just give up now!” Then there was the added pressure of the rather growing expense of renovating the garage- it was time to put my money where my mouth was.

Yesterday Brent went to the big meeting where they (Whole Foods Market) revealed all the new product they are bringing in for the holidays. I won’t lie- I get some of my best holiday ideas based on what he comes home and tells me.  In this business, you start preparing for the holidays in May (I start in July). He informed me that they were bringing in a line of soap- created by my idols. That’s right- I aspire to be like…other soap makers. (LOL) Mind you, their soap is not better than mine- I know because I’ve tried it. (Random tip here: Know you competition! If you are going to be successful you’ve got to know what other people in your field are doing and offering and how it compares to what you’ve got. I find this out by ordering soap from others.) Anyway, these gals have done a stellar job with marketing their product. (It helps to know that one of them has a stinkin’ degree in marketing.) I quickly got online to find out the scoop and realized that they were going NATIONWIDE in all Whole Foods! While I’m so super excited for them (truthfully, they have worked very hard), I was really…well, jealous I guess. These ladies started the same way as me. Their standards and style are the same. But neither of them have children that I know of, not to mention there’s two of them. They recently announced that they were taking their soap business out of their parent’s basement and into a 2,000 square foot warehouse! (My next step after I outgrow the new studio.) 

The new studio. With the paint stain on the carpet, which is currently buried somewhere under a pile of giant legos and other random toys.

I started to feel that nagging feeling again. These ladies had spent the last five years making soap. I spent the last few years making….babies? people. “I’m going to work harder! I’m going to stay up late and work my fingers to the bone! I’m not going to let the fact that I’ve got children hold me down!”  were my immediate thoughts.

I said as much to Brent, my wonderful awesome encouraging husband, who responded. “They spent the last five years building a soap empire, but YOU spent the last five years building castles and kingdoms in the hearts of your children.” I wanted to cry. My discouragement and frustration was quickly wiped away when I glanced down and saw some sweet little monster paper dolls that Arwen had quietly made that day and slipped onto my desk. They had sweet toothy monster grins, and she even gave each one a belly button. 

It’s easy to get overly ambitious. We all have different paths to travel and mine involves lots of little people. Brent pointed out that we only need enough for today. I don’t need to have my soap in every Whole Foods Market in the nation! I only need it in a few stores. Seriously, that would set us financially, just that little bit. 

It’s easy to take our eyes off of our real job and our real business- sculpting souls and nurturing spirits and minds. These kids are the most important thing I can do today. Yesterday I did nothing but hang out with them, coloring, singing, reading, going to the library. They reciprocated with gifts showered on me (like the monster paper dolls and wooden hard boiled eggs from their kitchen)… and Ezra body slammed me repeatedly, which is apparently his official love language. =/ 

And of course, I’m not giving up! These kids are not a hurdle to my success. They are stepping stones! They inspire me (you may not know that Arwen helped me create the Happy Thoughts soap, and it’s named after her- her name means “happy thoughts”, and Charis was the inspiration for the Hello, Sunshine! Soap.), and one day they will (hopefully) be my faithful apprentices and make it all their own.

Having a huge successful business is not the be-all and the end-all, mammas. We just need enough and if we end up with more than enough- that’s great too! We work from home for a variety of reasons- I do it because it’s important to me to be constantly influencing and teaching my children and to help take the financial load of an always growing family off of my husband. It helps to be busy with my hands- it keeps me out of trouble.  And I do it because I like it! 

It takes time. Lots of time. And lots of hard work to build a business. Years. Mistakes. Restarts. Slow down and don’t forget to enjoy your children and your family along the way.