From working for “the man”, to side hustles, to business owner. How I transformed by leaving Corporate America and my salary behind so I could create freedom in my life and become the mom I wanted to be. Part I.
Trigger Warning: Pregnancy Loss
This story starts in college. I graduated with a degree in graphic design in 2007.
Fun fact about my college experience – that’s when I had my son. He was born seven months before I graduated. Let me tell you – THAT is not easy. I have mad respect for anyone who goes to college while having kids. It’s hard and you grow up REAL fast. Life lesson.
I graduated, and went straight to work in marketing and design. I explored every area I could get my hands on. I’ve been in Commercial Project Management, Print Design, Large Format Print Production, Flexographic Pre-press, Digital Print Design and Production, Freelance Design, Small and Large Advertising Agencies.
Fast forward to 2015, I had my daughter, Vale. She’s pretty cool. Tied for favorite child, for sure.
We were lucky enough so save enough for me to go jobless (side point, being a stay at home mom IS a job) for seven months and stay at home with her. It was the best. I mean, it was hard and I dealt with post-partum issues, but being at home is where I thrive.
After those seven months, I had to drag myself back to work to help support our family. I updated the portfolio, sent in all the resumes, got a couple offers, and then…
I landed my dream job guys.
I had applied at this advertising agency several times over like 5 years and it never worked out, but this last time I actually got it. I was totally excited and totally in love and it was like the coolest place to work ever.
Beer taps on every floor, free yoga, awesome mother’s rooms for pumping, I was in love.
But then I experienced real ad agency life. I don’t know if you know this, working at an ad agency is crazy. I knew that going into it and accepting the job, but when you really live it, it’s a totally different thing.
Pitches are nuts, I had some 1 am mornings, a 30 minute commute, was missing dinners and baseball games and I felt stretched really thin. On top of that, I started feeling like I wasn’t working with integrity.
I have strong feelings on a lot of things and here I was, a vegetarian working on ads for turkey producers. At the time I was a person dedicated to natural living, working on email blasts for places that I would never eat or products I would never use.
I loved my coworkers there, the people I worked I had become so close to and I loved the idea of working there. It was a company that gave back and I was proud to say I worked there but the day-to-day was super stressful for me as a person and a parent.
So in November 2016 I faced what would become a turning point in my life.
We found out I was pregnant with our third child.
Holy crap guys. Three. I felt stretched so thin trying to give the attention and love to the two I had.
All I could think of was “How the hell am I going to make this work. How am I going to give more when I feel like I don’t have enough for everyone in my life now?”
I made the decision to leave the ad agency that summer. I’d be seven months along, that would give me time to figure things out, line something else up, get prepared. So I started to make plans.
We would trade in the Subaru for something that could fit more car seats, we’d convert the office into the nursery, all of that.
None of those things ever happened.
Not too long after I found out I was pregnant I had a miscarriage.
I had a long time to sit with this by myself and with my husband. Honestly, it was a period of really mixed emotions. Having a third child was something we hadn’t expected and it wasn’t in the plan. And at the same time, I had already starting feel connected to that little life.
At some point I was like “So, now what.” How do you go back to normal life after experiencing something so big?
Something in me fired up.
How the hell was I supposed to go back to work, back to the stress, back to missing dinners, and baseball games, and always being stressed out??
I was so ready to give it up and dedicate myself to spending more time with my kids to give them the attention and time they deserved when I thought I was going to have three, but what about the two I already have???
So that was it. It was like a flip switched and I knew that my life was completely changed.
I put in my two weeks. Had no clue what I was doing. And said goodbye to the ad agency.
When I said goodbye to the ad agency, I also said goodbye to my salary. That was something we relied on.
I’m the kind of person that when I get something in my mind it just happens and I figure it out as I go. I know that I will always find a way to make something work and I was really trusting that in jumping off this giant cliff, there was going to be a feather bed down at the bottom or at least some branches off the side of the cliff for me to grab or slow me down as I’m free falling into god knows what….
I had to figure out how to make money on my own.
One thing that I knew was that I wanted out of advertising and marketing.
Living in that space of not feeling in integrity and giving my time to helping companies I didn’t believe in felt icky. I didn’t want to be a part of the marketing world that manipulated people to make sales. I didn’t want to help greedy corporations or businesses that were just interested in profit over the well being of communities.
I had started a jewelry business some years ago so I had some semblance of what starting a business looked like.
I had the design and branding part down, so that wasn’t a worry. but I had to teach myself the ins-and-outs of actually starting, legitimizing and running a business – the legalities, retail taxes, business structure, sales, all of it.
So I started looking around my life and seeing what I could utilize to create a business. I wasn’t going to waste time investing in a new skill or going back to school or something like that.
I had a hobby/hustle when I was at the agency making self care products. So I turned it into a brand and product line.
I was like screw this degree, screw these 10 years of experience. I’m making bath bombs!!!
Then, I was like “I have a huge natural living group on facebook”, so I created a membership business helping eco-friendly businesses reach their very specific local target market. I lead masterminds. I created directories. I partnered with local businesses. I did the things.
I took the things that were already in my life, utilized skills I already had and interests that were there and created money out of it.
It’s a beautiful thing when you’re able to create something out of things you already have within you.
I’m happy to say, both businesses took off and turned a profit in the first year of operation. Claps all around, woohoo!
That’s how I went from working 9-5 (which lets be real, is more like 6-9 if you’re a parent) to escaping working for the man and successfully starting two businesses that both made a profit within the first year. BAM.
I’m grateful every single damn day to baby #3. Through the grief and loss that baby that we never got to meet sparked a fire in me to started creating my own life instead of going through the motions.
Part II: Finding direction and purpose, coming soon.
Making the Leap: Leaving my 9-5 for Small Business Freedom
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