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my journal

Why It's So Important To Do Work That Is In Alignment With Who You Are

Why It's So Important To Do Work That Is In Alignment With Who You Are

Welcome to another edition of my Weekly Journal! I use this space to share a bit about jewelry, and a lot about my journey from lawyer to jewelry business owner. This week I want to talk about authenticity at work. It's so important to find work that is in alignment with who you are -- work that makes use of your given talents and natural gifts. When you do work like that, things just flow. The converse is true, too. When you work in a field that either isn't in alignment with who you are or, even worse, forces you to change who you are, the Monday to Friday grind can feel like a real uphill battle. Have you ever thought about whether your job or career is in alignment with who you are? I hadn't, until long after I quit my lawyer job. I didn't know it at the time, but a lot of the angst I felt working in the legal profession stemmed from the fact that I wasn't doing work that was in alignment with my personality. In fact, I sometimes felt like I had to betray my own personality in certain ways to be a "good lawyer." If you find yourself in a similar situation, you might want to read on!

Many people who meet me cannot believe that I was once a lawyer. They can't picture me as an attorney. I'm on the quiet side, I'm friendly, and I tend to have a warm and comforting disposition about me. Lawyers tend to be loud, aggressive, unfriendly, cold, and uncomfortable to be around (not all lawyers... but the stereotype exists for a reason). People used to make the same comment back when I was a lawyer too, and this should've been a huge red flag. Why do people I just met always say they're surprised I'm a lawyer? It literally was that obvious that my personality didn't "fit" the role of attorney.

My body also told me that something was off. For the majority of my 11 year career as an attorney I experienced stomachaches. Every day. I tried different things to address the problem, but nothing worked. Magically, and I say this with absolutely no exaggeration, my stomachaches seemed to disappear about a week after I quit my lawyer job. I'm not kidding. It's an amazing thing what stress can do to you. Sitting here now I think to myself, what if I had continued on? I'm sure 40 years of persistent stomachaches from the stress of work wouldn't have faired well for me. I most likely would have ended up with a much more serious illness or medical condition.

My spirit also told me something was off. At times I was told, either implicitly or expressly, to change things about myself to fit more into the role of attorney. My spirit didn't like this, but I tried to fit into the role anyways because I was young and didn't know any better. For example, I remember this one article that circulated around the law firms that addressed the use of exclamation points and flowery language in emails written by females. Cease the use of exclamation points! They are over-used and diminish your authority, the article said. The article also cautioned against the use of filler language or flowery language. For example, instead of writing "Just checking in on the draft brief I sent you last week. Please let me know if you've had a chance to review it and if you have any edits." you should instead write, "Please provide a status update on the draft." As someone who likes to use warm and friendly language in email communications, this didn't sit well with me. It seemed like I was being coached to write and speak more like a man. What in the world is wrong with the woman's way of speaking? Absolutely nothing. In fact, I think it promotes a greater sense of teamwork and workplace camaraderie. I'd be far more likely to quickly respond to the nice email than the status update email, wouldn't you? 

I also didn't have a great fondness for the clothes I was "supposed" to wear as a lawyer. Pant suits and blazers that were plain and simple, and DARK. Very dark. If you see my Instagram Stories, I rarely wear black. But as a lawyer, you almost always wear black or navy. The clothes I wore felt stuffy and too proper. I often felt like I was trying to look more like a man than a woman in my lawyer suits, as if looking like a man would somehow make me more credible to the judge or client. I sure didn't realize this at the time, but looking back now, that's exactly what a female lawyer's wardrobe is meant to convey. I mean, that's the reason pant suits for women were invented! To mirror and model a man's suit.

And most importantly, I didn't like the way I needed to betray my own natural personality in order to fit the role of lawyer. How I needed to become more argumentative, more aggressive, more more more of the things I just WAS NOT. It was stressful to put on an act, and pretend I was someone I wasn't. This is your biggest clue that you're out of alignment with your job or career. 

I wish someone had coached me back in high school or college to take a look at my natural gifts, skills, and personality traits, and to pick a job or career that meshed with those. I sure wouldn't have ended up a lawyer. In fact, if someone had said to me back then, "If you become a lawyer, your entire life is going to feel like one big argument", I would've said, "Stop right there, that's not me and I'm going to find something else to do with my life." If you're currently feeling angst, unhappiness, and tension in your current job or career, take some time to examine whether your work is just out of alignment with YOU. And if it is, that's ok. Know there are a lot of things out there that would be in alignment with who you are. You don't need to change yourself to fit into a role that you weren't born to play. And please don't let anyone make you think that you do. Examine how your body feels about your work - is it constantly stressed out, uncomfortable, and sick? Examine how other people react when you tell them about your job - do your friends and family and maybe even strangers tell you that your personality doesn't seem to fit your career? Examine how your spirit feels - do you feel like you're constantly being beat down or coerced into changing some aspect(s) of yourself in order to fit a role? Take an inventory of these things, and if they're not in alignment, find a career coach. There are so many available on the Internet these days - interview a few and pick one that can help you work through your traits, gifts, and skills and help you list a number of jobs that are in alignment with those. Changing careers can be difficult at times, but coming up with a list of potential good careers for you is not as hard as it would seem. Take that first step. It'll probably make you feel more at ease to compile a list of careers that would serve you well! And then maybe the excitement of finding a career in alignment with who you really are can propel you into the journey of actually changing careers!

Cheers to doing work that's in alignment with who you really are!

xoxo,

Stacy

 

 

 

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Why Critical Thinking Is The Most Important Skill You Need As An Entrepreneur

Why Critical Thinking Is The Most Important Skill You Need As An Entrepreneur

Welcome to another edition of my Weekly Journal! I use this space to share a bit about jewelry, and a lot about my journey from lawyer to jewelry business owner. The other day I was thinking to myself, "What is the single most important skill you need to make the leap from ordinary job to owning your own business?" I quickly came up with critical thinking. So in this week's journal entry I want to dive into why critical thinking is so important, and it's probably not for the reason you think. This is a heavy post with a happy ending so I hope you'll take a read.

Here's the bottom line - there are powerful societal expectations that rule all of our lives and most people accept them blindly, never stopping to critically think whether they actually believe them or want them to apply to their own lives. The people who often succeed in business ownership have the critical thinking skills necessary to dismantle these beliefs and replace them with more powerful, intentional, and authentic beliefs.

Let me give you an example - have you ever stopped to think about retirement in the United States? Most people believe that it's "normal" to work at a job you don't particularly love so that you can pay your bills and save enough money in a 401(k) and then hopefully retire when you're about age 65 which is when you'll really start to live your life. WHAT?! Have you literally ever stopped to think about whether that actually even makes sense? It's absurd to me. Maybe that's because I've heard one too many stories of people who never even make it to retirement. Take my father for example - he passed away one month after he turned 65. He was Mr. 401(k), always being responsible and saving money for retirement. He worked an office job in information technology in New Jersey and had dreams of retiring to the beaches of North Carolina. But he never even got the chance. What a horrible, cruel joke. Could you imagine spending your whole life working hard with the dream of finally living life at age 65, only to pass away? This was probably the biggest realization that pushed me to finally quit my lawyer job after 11 years and pursue doing something I love instead. None of us is guaranteed tomorrow, let alone a retirement, and I'm sure not going to wither away over the next 30 years doing a job I cannot stand.

Here's another example - have you ever stopped to think about America's "TGIF" culture? Why does that exist? Well, it's because the majority of America doesn't like their Monday to Friday job and they can't wait until the weekend. Have you ever stopped to think about that? It's so sad! We spend the week wishing for Friday so that we can live for 2 days? And then we repeat this week after week? It's the same with the question, "How was your weekend?" I kind of laugh to myself when people ask me that now because I want to say, "I live all 7 days thank you very much. My life is no longer limited to just Saturday and Sunday."

Many people never really stop to critically think about what they're told to do, what's "normal", and what their parents or others expect of them. Instead, they just blindly follow along. And they wonder why they aren't happy and they aren't fulfilled. The answer is simple: you have given up all of your power and you aren't making any intentional decisions to live the way YOU want to live. There is a complete absence of critical thinking as it relates to work and the trajectory of your life. You haven't stopped to think about what makes sense for you and you can't even define what you want because you never stopped to critically think about it. 

Now let me apply this concept of critical thinking to starting your own business. When you have the desire to start your own business, you must dig up all of the societal expectations currently controlling your life and essentially defeat them and bury them for good. What's the number one societal norm that has to be torn apart? That your worth depends on your job title, the company you work for, and your salary. When you quit and start your own business, you're not going to have those anymore and it will be disorienting unless you have already done the work around the concept that "you are not your job." How do you do this work? Critical thinking of course. Critical thinking allows you to ask yourself, "Do I really think that I'll crumble and not be worthy if I give up this prestigious corporate job? Do I really think my worth is inherently tied up in my job title? My salary? The company I work for?" Sadly, many people don't even know that they're basing their worth on these things, let alone have the awareness to examine them, tear them apart, and intentionally decide differently. This is powerful, life-altering work and you might even need to enlist the help of a therapist to accomplish it. Dismantling beliefs you grew up with and blindly followed for 5, 10, 15, 20 years is not easy. It takes time. It takes careful examination. And then you need to replace those beliefs with NEW beliefs about what is possible, where your worth stems from, and what type of work you want to intentionally perform in the world. 

I know this was a heavy journal entry with a very "tell it like it is" attitude, but it just saddens me so much to see so many people - women in particular - feeling so incredibly stuck in jobs that are stressing them out and draining all the light from their eyes. That was me once, so I know exactly how it feels. People ask me all the time how I was able to escape my lawyer job to do grace + hudson and I have to tell you that 95% of the work is mental. Most of the work is what I talk about right here. Building a website, learning how to do online marketing, etc -- all of that is easy in comparison. The real hard work is dismantling false beliefs and replacing them with new beliefs about a new life that is possible for you. It's transformational work and it's hard. It requires you to get out of your comfort zone and question many of your own patterns, habits, and thoughts. And for that reason, most people don't want to do it. Or they start, but then they stop. It takes real dedication to change the direction of your life. And you're going to be outside your comfort zone for a very long time. But ohhh is it worth it. And the person you'll become - that person that's waiting on the other side of all this work - she is so happy. She is so at peace. She is so unshakeable. Because she knows who she is. She knows that nothing outside of herself can determine her worth.  And she knows that anything - absolutely anything - is possible for her if she does the mental work to get there.

Think for yourself. Don't blindly follow. Be your own person. That's the pathway to happiness and peace in your career and in life.

xoxo,

Stacy 

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How I'm Feeling About Owning My First Storefront

How I'm Feeling About Owning My First Storefront

Welcome to another edition of my Weekly Journal! I use this space to share a bit about jewelry, and a lot about my journey from lawyer to jewelry business owner. In this week's journal entry, I want to share what it's felt like to own my first storefront. I started grace + hudson as an online business about 3 years ago and I expanded by opening my first storefront about 2 months ago in Charleston. Last week, someone asked me whether I like owning a shop so I thought I'd share my response here. 

Do I like owning my own shop? Yes! First and foremost, I've really enjoyed connecting with some of you in person. Social media is wonderful but there's something extra special about meeting you in person, helping you select jewelry, and watching your face light up when you find the perfect piece. This happened just yesterday. I had an adorable mother and daughter in my shop, and the daughter's face lit up when she put on one of my heart necklaces. She asked her mom if she could get it and, after her mother said yes, she wore it as she left the shop. I live for that! It gives me so much joy. Many of you have asked if you can wear the jewelry now, as you leave the shop, and my heart melts every single time.

The other thing I love about having the shop is helping brides select their wedding jewelry in person. I help many of you virtually, over email and Instagram, but helping you pick out jewelry in person is something special! I love looking at your wedding dresses, asking about your wedding venues, and watching you try on your favorite pieces. Once you find the perfect pieces, it gives me so much joy to know I'll be a part of your wedding day in this small way.

The jewelry store has also given me a beautiful, inspiring place to work everyday. I feel more creative in my shop and I'm excited to work there. The energy in my space is so good! I can't explain it. It kind of feels like home. Before I had the store, I was working out of a home office that was bursting at the seams. Yep that's right, I ran g+h out of my home for almost 3 years! I was so ready for g+h to have a space of its own. It has made my business feel more legitimate too. In addition to the retail space, my shop has a room for packaging up online orders and an office. Rather than packing up orders on my kitchen table, I have a dedicated counter where everything is organized and nicely set up. It helps me be more productive, too.

Having my own storefront, ironically, also seems to have grown my online business. Maybe grace + hudson seems more legitimate to potential customers because I have a storefront. There's so many people selling online these days and, sometimes when you buy from someone new, you don't know what you're going to get and you might be a little hesitant to hit "buy." Having a storefront seems to have taken away those purchase fears. At the very least, g+h is legitimate enough to at least have a storefront in downtown Charleston so chances are, when the jewelry shows up, it's actually going to look like the pictures on the website!

The other really great thing about having a storefront is the people I've met. It can be lonely, being an entrepreneur. But now I have neighbors - a hair salon owned by a woman from New York, a deli owned by a family from Massachusetts, a wedding photographer from New York and another from South Carolina, and also the residents who live above my shop. We have such a fun little corner, and we'll often chat outside with a drink after we close for the day. I can't wait to meet more business owners throughout Charleston. It's such a fun community to be part of. I don't really have co-workers, but I have business owner neighbors and friends and that's a pretty fun thing.

So far, the only downside about owning my shop is the coronavirus. I signed my lease at the end of February, just a couple of weeks before the coronavirus drama all began. Thankfully, I was able to open my doors to the public in mid-May and I've been open ever since. But of course I have the fear that we'll face another quarantine. I have to pay rent for the store whether or not I have customers, so I pray that I'll be able to keep my doors open so that I'll be able to pay my bills. It's scary, you know? Every week I hear about another shop or another restaurant in Charleston permanently closing their doors. In all honesty, I'm not quite sure how I've survived, especially since my business is so young - it's only 3 years old. I can guess that it has something to do with my work ethic and my drive to succeed. This is my dream come to life and I am going to do everything I can to keep it alive during this trying time. One thing's for sure - after making it through this, I know I can make it through anything and everything.

If you're in the Charleston area or visiting soon, come in for a visit! The store is located in the historic district at 87 Wentworth Street (one block west of Vineyard Vines on King Street). I'd love to meet you!

xoxo,

Stacy        

 

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How I Know For Certain That I'll Never Go Back To Working As A Lawyer

How I Know For Certain That I'll Never Go Back To Working As A Lawyer

Welcome to another edition of my Weekly Journal! I use this space to share a bit about jewelry, and a lot about my journey from lawyer to jewelry business owner. In this week's journal entry, I want to tell you how I know for certain that I'll never go back to working as a lawyer. If you're new to grace + hudson, I worked as a lawyer for 11 years before I started my own jewelry business. To say that I disliked my job as a lawyer would be an understatement. But I must admit, when I first quit my job to start g+h, I felt fortunate to have a legal degree to fall back on. I knew that no matter what, I'd never be homeless and unable to pay my bills. I knew that I'd always be able to get some type of legal job with my degree and my experience. That knowing, plus my savings in the bank, gave me the ability to take a risk and try out being an entrepreneur. Anyone who has embarked on the entrepreneurial path will tell you that you spend the first two years (and maybe even longer) worrying about when you might need to crawl back to your prior career. That's totally normal. What you don't hear about so much is what life is like on the other side, when you finally surpass that marker and know with utter certainty that you'll never have to go back to your prior career. 

Here's how I know with 100% certainty that I will never again work in the legal profession. Plain and simple: I am no longer a match for it! Let me make an analogy I think we can all relate to. Bring to mind a guy or girl from your past that you either dated or wanted to date but, when you think of him or her now, it makes you cringe. Why is that? What's that little cringe all about? YOU'VE EVOLVED. You are no longer (quite literally) a match for them. If you are self-aware enough, you can probably pinpoint the exact reason why you're no longer a match, too. For example, I used to be a people pleaser. A HUGE people pleaser (which is one of the things that actually made me "good" at my job as a lawyer). What type of guy does a people pleaser usually attract into her life? Well, a guy who loves to make an inordinate amount of demands and is usually pretty self-centered. That type of guy loves to date people pleasers. Do you see how they're a match? He makes demands to feel more powerful (since he suffers from a lack of self-worth) and she wants to fulfill demands to feel needed and more important (because that's how she derives her false sense of self-worth). It's not a healthy dynamic, but it's easy to see how these types of people are attracted to each other like a magnet. It's the same with work and career. Actually, it's the same with pretty much everything in life! The things, people, jobs, etc that you have in your life right now are no accident! They're simply a match for what you think about yourself, what you think about the world, what you think about relationships, etc. 

I can see now why I fell into the legal profession and a lot of it has to do with my people-pleasing and overachiever tendencies. I was insecure and I didn't love myself very much and I tried to fill those "holes" by getting prestigious jobs. For example, the unconscious thought process that was probably going on in my mind sounded something like this: "I must be valuable and important if I have a great job that pays me lots of money!" Wrong. In addition, I derived a false sense of "purpose" and a false sense of "self-worth" by satisfying my client's and boss' every demand even if they came at 11 pm at night. Wrong again. As I stand here today, after doing a lot of work on myself with the help of a therapist and a lot of personal growth books, I no longer have those "holes" and I will no longer accept that type of work environment in my life anymore. No one is going to own my time the way law firms owned my every morning, evening, weekend, and holiday. No one is going to demand that I complete a non-urgent work task at 11 pm at night. No one is going to bark outrageous demands at me in the office. I will no longer accept that. I know now that I DESERVE BETTER. Period. And better is what shows up when you make that type of declaration and truly believe it to be so. My "better" is the life I've created with grace + hudson. I feel happy at work. I feel fulfilled at work. And I feel like work is a fun and healthy place to be. That's what I demand now of my career and that's exactly what I'm getting. And once you evolve beyond something (such as, in my case, the legal profession), there's no going back. It's nearly impossible. It's kind of like riding a bike: once you learn how to ride a bike, you can't really unlearn that. Does that make sense? It's the same with how we evolve and grow over our life span. We grow into jobs, we grow out of jobs, we grow into relationships, we grow out of relationships, etc.

I hope this gave you some food for thought! Now maybe you understand why I'm always saying, if you want to start your own business, you need to work more on your mindset than you do on your website. Work on evolving and growing beyond your present circumstances if you don't like them and see what happens next!

xoxo,

Stacy 

 

 

 

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The Truth About Work-Life Balance

The Truth About Work-Life Balance

Welcome to another edition of my Weekly Journal! I use this space to share a bit about jewelry, and a lot about my journey from lawyer to jewelry business owner. In this week's journal entry, I want to talk about work-life balance. Someone asked me to address this topic and I thought it was a great idea. Starting your own business is no easy task and work-life balance is definitely a legitimate concern if you're thinking about becoming an entrepreneur.

Before I started grace + hudson I was a lawyer and I worked some pretty crazy hours, especially when I was a young attorney. There were many nights spent working until midnight or beyond. I ate dinner at the office more than I ate dinner at home, and I often gave up much of my weekend to work. One of the main reasons I hated my job as a lawyer was that my employer owned me - my time was not my own. I was constantly forced to cancel plans with family and friends and I missed out on some pretty big events, including a friend's wedding. I say all of this to illustrate the reason why running my own business has felt a lot more balanced and a lot easier, even though it's required a lot of hard work. And that's because I am always in control of my own time and I never have to miss out on things that are important to me. I work a ton of hours as you might imagine, but I can be flexible with when and where I work. So, for me personally, I've found that achieving work-life balance is more about flexibility than it is about working significantly less hours per week. For ambitious types like myself, I love what I do and I don't mind spending a lot of time doing it. It's fulfilling and really fun! But I don't want my work to cause me to miss out on important moments with my family and friends and the flexibility I have now ensures that. Perhaps one of the positive things that'll come from the coronavirus and quarantine will be more employers allowing their employees to work from home and work flexible hours. Work-life balance will become a lot more attainable for a lot more people if that's the case.

The second thing I've learned about work-life balance is that, for me, it was more about being in alignment with my gifts and talents than it was about actual hours worked. What does that mean? Well, as soon as I started working in a field that felt really aligned with my God-given talents (jewelry making) and personality (creative, peaceful, light-hearted), I started to feel more balanced. A lot more balanced. Even when I was working long hours, I never felt drained, exhausted, and stressed out the way I did when I was a lawyer. Strangely enough, I felt like I had even more energy because I was so inspired and satisfied from the work I was doing. It lit me up! It literally put a sparkle in my eye, and if you've experienced that feeling before, you know it's an energizing feeling. Think about it - when you're doing something you truly enjoy, the hours fly by and you usually have positive mood-boosting endorphins running through your system. When you get home, you have energy to spend on your children, your spouse, and other chores and activities. You don't just collapse on the couch and snap at your family members because your day was so draining, right? This can lead to a greater work-life balance because you actually have energy left at the end of the day to spend quality time with family and friends and enjoy the things you want to enjoy.

So I would sum up my views on work-life balance like this. First, for me, I've found that flexibility is more important than working less hours. The ability to work when and where I want is incredibly freeing. I think most people want to work and actually have the drive to work hard, they just want to be given a little latitude to get their work done when and where they want so that they don't miss out on the things outside of work that build a well-rounded life (like attending a birthday dinner for a close friend, reading a book to your children before sleep, helping out a family member, or even going to a favorite workout class). Second, work-life balance is a lot easier to achieve when you're working in a field that is in alignment with who you are. When that's the case, your job will not deplete you of all your energy. Rather, you'll feel pretty balanced (not too tired and not too frantic) or your job will actually energize you and light you up, and you'll have energy after the workday to spend on your friends, spouse, family, and activities you enjoy thereby increasing your work-life balance. 

One last word on work-life balance in the context of entrepreneurship. Running your own business requires a lot of work. There are a lot of people out there who claim to run a business working only 3 or 4 hours or day for example. I'm sure you've come across them. I'm not sure of their personal circumstances, but if you're thinking of starting your own business, I caution you to not have this expectation. I'm at the beginning of my 4th year and I'm just starting to slow down and keep more of a regular work week (usually between 40 and 50 hours per week). In the beginning, my hours were much longer than that. I worked every day (weekends included) and often worked 10 to 12 hours per day. Maybe my living expenses are just a lot higher than the people making these claims of 3-4 hours per day. Everything is relative, right? A "successful" business to them may be one that generates $20,000 per year whereas my business would need to generate much more than that to cover my living expenses. But whatever the case, please do not go into business ownership thinking that you're only going to work a minimal amount of hours. It's just not the case. It requires a lot of hard work over a long period of time, and it's not easy. If it were that easy, I assure you that many more people would open their own business and...even more importantly...more would succeed and grow. The fact of the matter is a lot of new businesses fail because it's simply not that easy. Do I think you need to sell your soul and work 90 hours/week? Absolutely not! But it does take a lot of dedication, especially in the first few years.

If work-life balance is something you're seeking, I hope you found this journal entry insightful! 

xoxo,

Stacy 

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The Hidden Storylines Holding Us Back

The Hidden Storylines Holding Us Back

Welcome to another edition of my Weekly Journal! I use this space to share a bit about jewelry, and a lot about my journey from lawyer to jewelry business owner. In this week's journal entry, I wanted to talk about the power of the stories we tell ourselves and how to turn them around if they're holding us back. While this is an important lesson for business owners, it's also important in life. I've talked about this on Instagram and I wanted to talk about it here in more detail because it has been such a helpful tool.

Let me start with an example so you have some context. I shared this story over on Instagram this week. For many months, I've been feeling very overwhelmed in my business because I've take on a lot and have no help. It's just little old me running this business! I do everything from watering the flowers outside my shop to high-level marketing work, and everything in between. For a while now, I've accepted the fact that I really do need to hire an employee. It's time. My business just turned 3 years old last week and I can no longer handle everything on my own. But it's a scary step! It's sort of like trusting someone else to watch and care for your child. Anyways, for several months I had this repeating storyline running through my head. It went something like this: "I can't do this much longer on my own. This is too much for one person to handle. I have no one to help me." I recognized this story was playing in the back of my head and I started to call myself out on it. Each time I caught myself getting trapped in this story, I turned it around and said something like this: "I welcome support. I am supported in my business. I know the exact right person to hire is going to come across my path." It's hard work calling yourself out! It takes courage to challenge yourself and say to yourself, "Hey, there might be another perspective here." It took some time to fully believe this new story (that I could be supported) because I was a bit trapped in victimhood ("I can't do this on my own anymore. I am overwhelmed. I have no one to help me."). But once I really claimed a new storyline that was positive and supportive, it was only a matter of time before the most perfect employee serendipitously crossed my path. I was previously acquainted with her and never thought I'd be able to hire her. But everything lined up and I am so excited to start working with her in several weeks. It's funny how that happens.

Now that you have an example, let's try to break it down into action steps. It really isn't all that difficult - it just takes a lot of discipline and a willingness to call yourself out.

1. Recognize the limiting, negative, or self-defeating storyline

What negative storylines are you repeating? Truly ask yourself what's holding you back and be completely unfiltered and honest with yourself. 

Maybe it's "I'll never make enough money selling jewelry to pay my bills" (that's one I had to defeat after I quit being a lawyer!)

Maybe it's "I'm too young or I'm too old or I'm too [insert adjective] to succeed at [insert desired goal]." 

Maybe it's "Everyone has a 9 to 5 job, who am I to do something different?"

Maybe it's "My parents never made anything of themselves, who am I to pursue this big goal?"

Maybe it's even "I'll never meet a great guy. They're all jerks."

Negative storylines can creep up in every aspect of life, not just business and career. Not sure where to start? Ask yourself this: what area of my life is giving me the most trouble right now? Then ask yourself, "Why?" Then follow that trail as far as you can until you identify a limiting belief. Another method is to ask yourself, "Is there an area of my life where I feel sorry for myself?" For example, do you feel sorry for yourself because you've been single for 3 years in a row? That might cue you to look at the storylines you have in relation to your romantic relationships.

2.  Once you've identified the storyline that's holding you back, think about how you can turn it around

Get out a piece of paper and a pen and really work through how you can twist your storyline around. Start simple.

For example, if the negative storyline is "I have no one to help me in my business" then write down the opposite which would be, "I have help in my business."

If the negative storyline is "I'm too young to start my own business and have it succeed" then write down, "Regardless of my age, I know I have the skills I need to start my own business and have it succeed." 

If the negative storyline is "I'll never meet a great guy" then write down, "I know a great guy will cross my path and it's just a matter of time."

You get the idea. Come up with two or three "new" storylines that are positive and supporting. Write them down in your phone's note pad so you can refer to them at any moment.

3. Here's the hardest part: call yourself out 

When the negative storyline creeps in, you have to recognize it and call yourself out. This is the hardest part. Storylines are sneaky. They creep in when you least expect it and they come out of your mouth without you even realizing it. But the good news is, it gets easier and easier to call yourself out over time. It will almost become a reflex. You'll feel a little tug at your heart when you think or say a negative storyline and that'll be your cue for step 4.

4. Replace the negative storyline with the positive ones you created in step 3.

When you recognize yourself thinking or saying a negative storyline, stop yourself, and simply replace it with the positive storyline. And let yourself really feel it. It felt so good to tell myself, "I AM supported in my business. I CAN hire someone great. I know an awesome employee is going to cross my path." It eventually felt so good that I truly started to believe it!

5. Repeat the process over and over again and trust that new things, people, and events will start to show up for you to support your new storyline.

Here's the deal. The world works in pretty predictable ways. We are naturally attracted to things, people, and events that support our storylines. Let me make an analogy - we all have certain political beliefs (especially right now) and we tend to watch and read the media and news outlets that support what we already believe, right? People who love CNN would never watch Fox News and vice versa. The same principle applies in life - we look for things that already support what we believe. Does that make sense? I think our brains would rather be on "autopilot" - it's easier than opening up new pathways and establishing new thought patterns. 

Some people call this "manifesting" but that sounds a little woo-woo to some people. The plain and simple fact is that our outside circumstances tend to reflect our inner storylines pretty predictably. There's nothing woo-woo about that! When you know this, you can use it to your advantage.

If you found this helpful, I highly recommend the book Super Attractor by Gabby Bernstein. I adopted this method from her book and I've found it incredibly helpful not only in my business, but in my life. I hope you'll give it a try!

xoxo,

Stacy

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Service Is The Name Of The Game

Service Is The Name Of The Game

Welcome to another edition of my Weekly Journal! I use this space to share a bit about jewelry, and a lot about my journey from lawyer to jewelry business owner. In this week's journal entry, I want to speak directly to those of you who want to start your own business or already have. In running my business, the number one thing I always keep in mind is service. Service is the name of the game! It's about THEM, not YOU. This sounds so incredibly simple, right? But so many people fail to operate their business from a place of service, and it's so incredibly hard to succeed in the long run that way. 

So what does service mean exactly? Service means to be "of help, use, or benefit" (Webster's Dictionary). Every message you deliver about your business' product or service will be much more powerful if you speak from a place of service. Focus on what your customer or client has to gain from your product or service, or what problem you can help them solve, or how your service or product can make their lives better. This sounds easy but it can be tricky in the age of social media. For example, I have noticed that some business owners use their Instagram Stories to post almost entirely about their personal lives. What they did over the weekend, their cat, the wine they enjoyed last night, etc. I think it's great to show little snippets of your personal life because it makes you human and relatable, and these days a lot of people are consciously trying to shop more and more with small business owners rather than big corporations like Amazon. But, I think personal life snippets should be a tiny fraction of what you communicate. Why? Most people have difficulty keeping up with the minor details of their friends' and family's lives, let alone a stranger's life. It's really easy to disengage from that! Why? Because it isn't serving them. It adds little to no value to their lives. 

There's another reason it's really important to speak from a place of service. People can sense that energy, even through the social media and digital airwaves! If your motivation is solely to make money, don't think for one second that your potential customers won't notice that. It's a selfish energy and a self-centered energy that doesn't serve them and it won't serve you in the long run either. On the other hand, if you establish your business from a place of service and operate from the belief that your product or service truly solves a problem or is of value to your target market, then your communications will carry an entirely different energy. Businesses that provide true value to the world will, as a natural consequence, make money. Focus on the value, and the money will come. Focus on the money, and you're actually going to repel it.

I have an important real life example to share about this point. Remember that I had a jewelry store in 2010 that failed after just one year? During that time period, I was way too focused on not being a lawyer. That was my driving force in opening that store. Bottom line - that store wasn't about the customers I might serve with my jewelry designs. It was about me escaping the law. I couldn't see that at the time, but I see it so clearly now. I'm not surprised the store failed and that I ended up back in the law. Law was always on my mind! I gave all my energy to it! 

I'll conclude with this - there is all sorts of value that you can add to the world. You can add value to the world in big ways. You can add value in small ways. And they're both valid. There are tons and tons and tons of big and small problems to fix in the world. Just find your tiny little niche and focus on that. For example, in my own company, I aim to serve brides who are looking for classy jewelry they can gift to their bridesmaids at a giftable price-point. It's not too cheap, it's not too expensive, it's right in the middle. There are so few companies in that middle lane, so that's where I aim to add value. In addition, I aim to solve a problem -- most brides leave jewelry to the very end of their planning process (perhaps because they think it'll be easy to find) and then they scramble in a panic because it's actually really hard to find classy bridesmaid jewelry that won't break the bank (especially if you have something like 8 bridesmaids). I always aim to serve that scrambling bride who is just so happy to stumble across my website or Instagram because it's exactly what she's been looking for. My business is the solution to her problem. Sure, I sell jewelry to non-brides and to brides who aren't scrambling around at the last minute, but my little, tiny, narrow lane of service that I focus on is the one I described above. And when you cover your tiny, little lane of service so incredibly well, other people traveling in other lanes are going to notice you. So what's your tiny, little, narrow corner of the world you aim to serve with your business? Keep that top of mind when you communicate about your business and you will go far.

xoxo,

Stacy

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Advice To My Little Sister

Advice To My Little Sister

Welcome to another edition of my Weekly Journal. I use this space to share a bit about jewelry, and a lot about my journey from lawyer to jewelry business owner. Over the past couple of years, many of you have told me that you look to me as an older sister. So with that in mind, I thought I would provide some advice to my little sister about what's transpired in the last week after the murder of George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter protests that followed. How do we become better both individually and collectively as a community? And how do we positively contribute to the massive changes that are occurring right now? I shared these thoughts on Instagram a few days ago and I thought I'd share them again here in case you missed it. I do not claim to be an authority on any topic, let alone a topic as complicated and sensitive as this one, but I hope that this will help you organize your thoughts and your actions.

First, do whatever YOU feel compelled to do right now and ask for guidance through prayer or meditation. For example, maybe you'd like to donate money or volunteer your time to one of the countless causes out there working towards solutions to end systemic racism. Or maybe you'd like to attend a peaceful protest. Or maybe your job right now is to educate yourself and become more aware of the issues. Make a list of podcasts or books you'd like to listen to or read. We all have different things to contribute right now. Honor where you are. And more importantly, honor where others are too. 

Action Step: Listen to this 2 minute talk on Instagram called, "What is Mine To Do?" by Michael Beckwith. You can find it by clicking here

Second, sacrifice some time to understanding these issues. Michael Beckwith, one of my favorite spiritual leaders and authors, says that the word "sacrifice" means to "make sacred." Make sacred your time right now. Substitute watching an episode on Netflix with a long walk listening to a podcast on racism and white privilege. Maybe you do that 3 times this week with 3 different podcasts. That will add up to 3 hours of education and awareness you did not have before. And it'll make you a more intelligent person in the long run.

Action Step: Listen to this valuable podcast from Lewis Howes' "School of Greatness" on racism, white privilege, and healing. You can find it by clicking here

Third, social media is not now a place where you need to prove how "not racist" you are. For example, it is not necessary to post on social media how many things you bought from black-owned businesses this week. It's great if you contributed in that way though! Many of these "boasting" and "toot my own horn" posts are coming from a place of guilt and not from a true place of inspiration and love. We are much, much more than the 1-dimensional social media accounts we use and much of the initial work we need to do right now is internal (like reading and educating ourselves) and involves conversations with our parents, kids, and friends. It doesn't need to be broadcast on social media for validation and "likes" from others. Remember that kid in school who sucked up to the teacher all the time and made sure everyone in the class knew about the extra credit and extra work he did? Don't be that kid. That kid wasn't acting from a place of love, he was acting from a place of needing approval from others to make himself feel better about his own short-comings. BUT by all means, if there is something you feel is worth sharing AND you believe your friends and/or followers could also genuinely be served by that thing, then share it. Maybe you share it on social media, or maybe you just share it with your close friends or family members who can be served by it. Service is the name of the game. Service is not about YOU but about the people you hope to help and assist with your share. That type of share comes from a place of love, not guilt, and will be of true value in the world.

Fourth, the past 90 days have been very intense. If you're feeling overwhelmed or overly sensitive right now, don't tune out or numb out. Rather, take time to rest and recharge as needed and then tune back in.

Action Step: Screen shot this prayer and say it when you're feeling overwhelmed. "Thank you 2020 for your transparency. Thank you for showing us how we need to change. Thank you for motivating us to stand together. Thank you for opening our hearts. Thank you for holding a space where love can rise." (Originally shared by @spiritdaughter)  

xoxo,

Stacy

 

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What It Feels Like To Be A Beginner In Business

What It Feels Like To Be A Beginner In Business

Welcome to another edition of my Weekly Journal! I use this space to share a bit about jewelry, and a lot about my journey from lawyer to jewelry business owner. Many of you want to start your own business, but have you ever thought about what it might feel like when you finally take the plunge? I started grace + hudson three years ago in June 2017 as an online business. I finished 2019 as a six-figure business which was so exciting (it definitely gave me the "I've made it!" feeling). Then, in early 2020, I signed a store lease to expand my business by adding a storefront in downtown Charleston. I opened my store two weeks ago and I feel like a beginner again. I'm sharing what it feels like to first start out on the big, new, scary, exciting adventure of business ownership because if you don't know what's "normal" and what's not, you might give up on your business too soon.

The most critical thing to remember is that you're going to feel a little lonely in the beginning. This is normal! You won't open your doors and immediately have hundreds of customers waiting to throw their money at you. I wish it were that easy! If it were, everyone would have their own business. Similarly, if your business is all online, you might hear crickets every single time you post something on social media about your services. When that happens, don't compare yourself to other online businesses that have tons of followers - remember, they too were beginners at one point. Instead, realize that you need to put time and effort into marketing. Marketing is simply the act of making people aware of your business and what you have to sell. Most likely, no one is buying from you yet because no one knows about you yet! Don't assume that no one is buying because your product stinks. Too many people assume the latter, get very discouraged, and shut their doors before their business was given a fair chance.

In the very beginning of grace + hudson, I sometimes went weeks without getting a single sale on my website. If I didn't know that was normal I might have thought, "Wow, my jewelry must stink. Maybe I should just go back to being a lawyer." But thankfully I knew that it takes time and effort to grow a business (especially online where there is much more competition). This is the single hardest thing about starting a new business: sticking with it and believing in your products or services even when no one is buying them. Try this exercise - it might make you feel better: look up the businesses you love and find out when they were founded. I was shocked to learn that some of the companies I love were founded long before I knew about them. It takes time. Be consistent. Show up in the best way you know how. And over time, you will build your own tribe of loyal and returning customers.

The second thing I want to talk about is self-doubt. It takes a lot of courage to start your own business. The fears and doubts that held you back before you took the plunge don't automatically go away. It is very normal to open your shop or launch your website and continue to wonder, "Did I make the right decision?" Take some deep breaths, exhale the self-doubt and worry, and focus on what needs to be done to operate your business. Self-doubt is going to be part of any adventure that requires guts, determination, and courage! 

The third and final thing I want to mention are the frustrating customers or clients. If you aren't prepared for them, the first one just might make you cry! But it's a fact of life that comes with the territory. People are by their nature, funny creatures. They'll have incorrect expectations and often want you to deliver champagne on a beer budget. They'll say weird things, make annoying requests, and sometimes be downright rude. For example, I am shocked every time I receive an email from a potential customer trying to negotiate the price of my jewelry. This happens at least several times per year! And I'm not referring to, "Do you have a discount code?" That's perfectly acceptable. What I'm talking about is the customer who says, "I know this necklace is $74 but would you accept $50?" I always think to myself, would that person have the gumption to send the same email to Macy's or Nordstrom? Heck no! So what makes them think it is acceptable to email a small business owner with this type of request? I just don't know. Whenever you encounter an unfriendly or rude customer, realize that it's them, not you. They most likely had a bad day, or weren't raised with proper manners. It just comes with the territory. Be kind and do the best you can to meet their expectations, but never feel like you have to concede to a request if it doesn't feel right to you or just doesn't make sense financially. There will be more customers - you certainly don't need the annoying ones.

Business ownership is an exciting adventure. Enjoy the beginning because, if things go well, you'll soon be so busy that the beginning stages will become a distant memory!

xoxo,

Stacy 

 

 

 

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How It Feels To Be Opening a Storefront in Charleston

How It Feels To Be Opening a Storefront in Charleston

Welcome to another edition of my Weekly Journal! I use this space to share a bit about jewelry, and a lot about my journey from lawyer to jewelry business owner. This week I'm sharing what it feels like to be opening my new shop in downtown Charleston. Opening day is tomorrow, May 19th, and I have the biggest smile on my face about it all! It's such a big step on my business ownership journey and of course a lot of thought went into the decision. Well, actually, not really! But that's exactly the takeaway point from my story behind opening this new shop.

I opened my business in June 2017 and sold online only for about 2 1/2 years before I decided it was time to expand. Some of you might not know that I've been a one-man show this entire time. Yep, I do everything from high-level marketing strategy to taping labels on packages. I've had a few interns and a consultant along the way, but I never really felt ready (or financially able) to hire a steady employee. I also felt that I could do it all on my own (a personality trait that I'm doing a lot of work to correct!). Anyways, in the fall of 2019, I started to get this deep gut feeling that it was time to up-level and take my business on to the next chapter. This coincided with me feeling a bit overwhelmed with all the tasks that need to be done to run a business. When you start your own business, everyone will tell you, "When young businesses fail, it's usually because the owner is too lost in the everyday details of the business and not spending enough time on the high-level marketing and growth strategy." And this is exactly where I found myself - I knew I had to pivot soon or I was going to be doomed. But it's scary to expand! I had all the normal fears you might imagine. 

After the 2019 holiday season, I decided that I needed to bite the bullet and work on hiring a part-time employee or two. Until recently, I've worked out of a home office and I didn't want to invite employees into my home (even if they were just a local college student or two) which meant that I needed to find a small office space. I began to research office space prices because I'm still fairly new to the Charleston area. In my head, this was just research. I was originally planning not to lease a space until mid-year, and maybe even September 2020. I looked at a couple spaces and one of them was very close to my home with very flexible lease terms. There were enough office units available that I could probably secure one beginning mid-summer or September. I almost stopped my research, knowing that I could come back to this space and this landlord later in the year when I felt ready. I continued to look at listings though and I came across this Craigslist posting (no joke) for a space in downtown Charleston that wasn't all that much more money. The space had a decent-sized office, a copy room that I could turn into a packaging room for online orders, and a beautiful area that I could turn into a store or showroom area. I decided to look at it, expecting nothing much since the price was so affordable (downtown Charleston is not often described as "affordable"). 

The space didn't initially knock my socks off, but in the few days that followed, I got an amazing vision for a beautiful store. I also started to realize that the plain office space I had looked at was a sunk cost. It would never be able to generate revenue to pay for itself. But, if I had an office that also had a small space for a store, well the space might even pay for itself (plus more!). I went back to see the space with my boyfriend who has lived in the Charleston area for much longer than me. He was impressed and said that the opportunity would not come up again. Not for a pretty space like this (it even has a fireplace!) at this price point.

This whole process spanned only about a week or two. Remember, I was only conducting "research" on pricing, with the aim of securing a space in mid-summer at the earliest. But I had such a strong feeling about this Charleston space. It was overwhelming really. It felt like it was dropped into my lap by guardian angels who wanted me to take it. Really it did! There was something so magical about it. AND the landlord was amazing, saying that if it didn't work out and my store failed, he wouldn't try to take me to court to enforce the lease against me. It was the little nudge of reassurance I needed to calm my nerves about leasing a space so quickly and so abruptly, really. I told him to send me a copy of the lease.

The lease was very fair and agreeable, but I took a few days to review it... along with the doubts and fears I was feeling. How is this happening?! I was only researching spaces! And now I'm going to open a store, like, next month? Is this what I really want? Is this what grace + hudson needs? I took all those questions inward and really meditated and prayed about it all. Deep down, I felt so clear, so certain that this was the next step. There really wasn't a shadow of a doubt. It felt divinely orchestrated. I knew if I said "no" to this opportunity the Universe was showing me, I would regret it. I almost felt like if I said "no" I'd be betraying myself. Has that ever happened to you? To me, that's always been a clear signal. That's the feeling I had when I quit my lawyer job - I felt like if I stayed in that career, that I'd be betraying myself because I knew I was made for something much greater and far more satisfying. So I trusted this clear internal guidance I was feeling, and signed the lease.

The moral of the story is that when something is meant to be, it'll happen and it'll happen on its own timetable. Maybe that'll be faster than you like or slower than you like, but it will all work out exactly how it's supposed to. Sometimes you don't need to analyze and forecast and plan for 6 months before you take action. Sometimes you just have to leap at an opportunity or it might be gone forever. When something is "divinely orchestrated" as I like to call it, you have to trust in your gut and go for it. Trust that you will be caught and that, no matter what, the experience is supposed to be part of your journey. Maybe it'll fail, maybe it'll be successful beyond your wildest dreams, but in both cases you'll learn a ton about yourself and grow a lot along the way. And that's what really matters at the end of the day. So I'd say that I'm feeling the following way as I open my new store: trusting, hopeful, at peace, and joyful with imagination for all this store might become.

I hope you'll come visit me sometime in Charleston! My store is at 87 Wentworth Street, just one block from the famous King Street. I'd love to meet you in person!

xoxo,

Stacy

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