Sometimes it seems like our lives here in Canada are conducted from the confines of a bubble. We are so busy with our schedules and commitments that we don't have the time to reach out to the community around us. We feel isolated and alone as we make our way in this world. We have discovered in the past few weeks that this does not have to be the case, there are many loving and caring people all around us; all that is missing is the time to reach out and connect. Connection is such an important piece of our happiness that we tend to neglect. It makes you feel like you belong to something bigger than your bubble. When we started this company back in the summertime, networking was not something I thought would be a part of our lessons. The idea of it makes my tummy do flip flops; as, reaching out and asking for help from strangers is a very vulnerable position to be in. Turns out it's actually quite comfortable once you realize how amazing it feels to help others and to be the receiver in return. We have learned so much from people who are also in the business of selling their hearts and souls. I say that because whenever you start up a business, regardless of what you are selling, if it is something you are committed to, you pour so much of yourself into it. It is a very emotional endeavor; one that takes you on a roller coaster ride of ups and downs. I am so thankful that the girls and I have met some wonderful passengers along the way to share this experience with.
Well after our fist sale, it's time to pull out the ledge book, posted stamp and pencils and figure out just where we stand as far as numbers go. Our first task was to record all the debits we've accumulated to get us up and running. The girls loved stamping the posted stamp on each receipt as they were recorded. Next up, was counting up our funds from the day and recording the amount in our credit column. I taught them that when we have more debits than credits it is called being "in the red" and the opposite is called being "in the black". So the next question to me was what color is it when it is exactly even - umm, hmmm . . . not really sure but that is a great questions. Anyone?
We had our first sale today at the Farmer's Market. Prior to this morning, the girls and I had spent quite a bit of time discussing the finer points of selling to the public. We have been secretly observing people we have encountered daily providing customer service to us and talking about their approach. A few years ago, my oldest had taken a toastminor course which had focussed on public speaking; so we reviewed all that she had been taught there. Short of that, though, turns out I have zero experience with sales. Not only that, but it is definitely not one of my strong points. The lovely gentleman running the Farmer's Market was so helpful and gave all three of us some wonderful tips for engaging the public but all three of us need a lot more practice finding our voice. Despite our shortcomings, we had lots of positive feedback and the girls were able to sell enough to convince them to do it again in a couple weeks. This time we'll be "testing out a new market" as they say in the sales world. I know we have a lot to learn but I'm excited to see how much we improve as the months go on.
When I was sixteen, my folks bought a print shop and thus I was immersed into a wonderful world that I would have never experienced had they decided to stay in our small town plodding along like they had for the first part of my life. Instead our family began an adventure full of stinky ink, reams and reams of paper, the chugging of an AB Dick and coalating till the cows came home. For those of you who have never experienced the back room of a print shop, let me just tell you it has ingrained memories full of smells, sights and sounds that I can still conjure up today. The day the girls and I started our assembly line to package up the cards brought me right back to that back room where I spent hours and hours walking around a table putting book after book together for our local community to share with one another. The girls where quite overwhelmed with the daunting piles in front of them at the beginning but they soon got the feel of sorting the stacks and folding the cards and in no time their skill had dramatically improved. They were quite proud of themselves when we had our product stacked and ready to sell. It was fun spending the time with them reminicing about when I was a young girl. I hope our project turns out to be successful and we can spend more hours talking over our stack of cards.
This morning, my mind was full of too many thoughts and as exciting as this endeavor has been it can also become quite overwhelming at times. I have a tendency to let my mind get the better of me and it is something that I have been working on; so, while I am getting better at it, let's just say I'm not a natural yet. I mentioned this morning to the girls that I was feeling very anxious about all that we have undertaken. All of a sudden, they hopped off their chairs and insisted that I do some breathing exercises with them. Both of the girls had the same amazing grade one teacher that has the wisdom to teach them how powerful our breath can be. The class would often do deep breathing exercises to calm down their busy little brains. All at once, perspectives were shifted and all was right with the world again. I'll never forget this lesson that my girls gave me.
I should mention that prior to motherhood, I was a graphic designer. Fortunately, the skills I acquired are much like riding a bike; I'm a little rusty but nothing a little practice can't fix. I forgot how much I love the field of design. It's especially wonderful now amongst the chaos of family life that I can truly appreciate the simplicity of it. The girls were eager students for this part of our journey. Well, I should say for the first part of it anyway. They, like myself, did eventually tire of scrutinizing the endless choices of fonts. We definitely paced ourselves on this task. I made a promise to myself at the beginning to devote a period of time to our business each and every day. That one simple promise was extraordinary in its effect.
Over the course of the last few weeks, the girls have become quite confident, little designers. I think they are very proud of their designs and can't wait to see them in print.
As summer started this year, I began to think that maybe the girls could be spending their time learning lessons that we don't have time to teach during the school year. One lesson that has always been very important to my husband and myself was instilling a strong work ethic in our children. Turns out this is much easier said than done. The fact that our lives are so crazy busy nowadays makes it much more efficient to just do rather than teach. I am especially guilty of this; I love crossing off all the tasks on my To Do list. However, summer seems to slow down our pace and let's us explore interests beyond the classroom. I spent much of the first part of our summer trying to come up with a way that the girls could have a little job that would earn them some money and teach them some responsibility. I was seriously considering a paper route but was strongly persuaded to avoid this idea after a close friend shared her own exasperating experience with her young children. I've always romanticized about the idea of selling something at a craft fair. The whole atmosphere honestly gives me goose bumps - I love it. However, I've never had the inspiration of what would be worthy of my own table. I can't even say for sure how the idea for "Get This CARDY Started" came about; more than likely another one of my daydreams while doing dishes or folding laundry. I knew it was the right business to introduce the girls to. I would be able to teach them so much and really it wasn't so complicated that they wouldn't be able to be involved in the process. My one fear is how I'm going to get them to sit at a table for hours and sell. But that blog is for another day. Regardless of what the outcome of this project is the lessons will be invaluable and hopefully will give the girls a solid foundation of how to make their hopes and dreams a reality.