We were two seven year-old girls.
Playing gift shop in my bedroom. Placing price tags on EVERYTHING. We were very busy merchandising all my toys, from my Raggedy Ann doll, to my bedroom furniture. It was all for sale, if you were willing to pay a hefty price for it. We were very serious about it or as serious as two 7-year-old girls could be about an imaginary business. But, you know how it goes for a 7-year-old. Life gets pretty busy. We went from gift shop owners to lemonade stand entrepreneurs and it didn’t stop there. Our partnership continued throughout adolescence, as we worked a retail store together, and a bakery. Soon finding ourselves off to university without one another, which led Sherri to live in Toronto, and me, in New York.
We devoured our 20s and 30s. We explored, and we conquered. Sherri made her professional mark in the fashion industry, and I did in the world of television. Two exhilarating careers that we were both very passionate about. Twenty years later: we are back in our hometown with 5 kids, 2 husbands, one dog and forty years of friendship between us. One fine summer day we reminisced about our burgeoning gift shop business from all those years ago, and just like that, it hit us, and Secret Bow was born. Our dream business. We were finally grown up enough to do what we had started 40 years prior.
Things are a little different from the days of price tagging our toys; we had a little more time on our hands back then. We now have much juggling to do to make Secret Bow happen.
We took the leap… TOGETHER and this is what we have learned so far:
1.Never say no to anything off the bat. I can remember being at a Gift Trade Show with Sherri, looking at a pair of socks that were rolled in a package to resemble sushi, when she stopped and got excited. She loved them, and I immediately said “NO!, who would wear those?”. Well, I was wrong, and they were ranked as one of the top gifts of that year. I may not have liked them, but clearly many others did. Lesson learned. Never say no. But, you see, much of my television career was in promotions and was viewer driven; I was selling a story, or a TV show, or network, not merchandise. I had to remember to take the “I” out of the equation. That was the very last time I said no right away to anything.
2.Listen. Listen. Listen. Very cliché. I get it, but it rings undeniably true. During the building of this business we have learned, pivoted, and grown tenfold. We both hailed from different vocations, but our common ground has been much of what we have processed through the art of listening, to our web gurus, influencers, family, and now our customers. That’s where you will find the gold.
3.Jump, leap. Another cliché. But there’s a reason why it is repeated so often. Once you get over the fear, you realize it wasn’t that bad after all. Before we went to our first gift show, Sherri and I perfected every email, every product list, and every inch of our website. The truth is, is that you are never entirely ready. You have to do your homework, that’s a given. But it’s the fear of not being absolutely perfect that can paralyze you and stop you from taking that leap. We are lucky, we had each other to jump with.
4.Perspective. Sherri and I talk each other down. I can get wild about some things. Luckily, we both can reel each other in when we need to. We know how to keep each other’s perspective in check. So, whether it’s a business partner, a family member or mentor, find someone who can “big picture it” for you.
Start. Take the leap. Think before you say no and listen to what’s going on around you. There are nuggets of inspiration flowing constantly, moving all around us. Take it all in and transform it into your own little sunshine.
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