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my journal

How Daily Mantras Helped Me Quit My Lawyer Job & Start My Own Business

How Daily Mantras Helped Me Quit My Lawyer Job & Start My Own 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. In this week's journal entry, I am sharing more about my daily mantra practice. If you've been following me on Instagram you already know that I've been sharing the daily mantras I've been using to get through this challenging period. The coronavirus has wreaked havoc on all of our lives and one way I've been trying to cope is by changing the negative story lines in my head into positive ones. For example, my mantra today is "Some of the most negative experiences of my life have paved the way for some of the most beautiful experiences of my life, and I know this time will be no different." Every time I feel negative thoughts coming on strong, I'll say this mantra silently to myself. Our thoughts shape our reality! And everything is a matter of perspective. Last week, I wrote in detail about this daily practice (you can read that here) and this week I wanted to share how I actually used mantras as a helpful tool in quitting my lawyer job and starting my own business.

First up, I told you last week why mantras work. I think they work because they reframe the story you've got running through your head. You can repeat negative thoughts all day long, or you can repeat positive thoughts all day long. Those thoughts create stories about what you believe is going to happen and they can be very powerful. Thoughts shape your reality. What you think about persists! So it's important that you control your thoughts and make sure they're more positive than they are negative. For all those control freaks out there, this is good news! You can't control much, but you can control the thoughts running through your head. I don't think it's possible to think positive thoughts 100% of the time but, on average, as long as you think more positive thoughts than you do negative thoughts I think you'll be just fine.

So, when I wanted to make a big career change from lawyer to jewelry business owner, I became very aware of the powerful negative stories that were holding me back. And I started to change them by using mantras. This didn't happen overnight because, let me tell you, I had some pretty powerful negative stories about career and money running through my head. But slowly and surely, my beliefs and my stories changed. For example, one of the thoughts I had running through my mind was that I will never be able to make as much money selling jewelry as I did as a lawyer. When I became aware of that belief, I realized how much it was creating my reality. If you believe you can't make a living selling jewelry, you won't and you'll march right on back to being a lawyer. If you believe on the other hand that you can make even more money selling jewelry than you ever did as a lawyer, you will. It really is that simple. I want you to read that again. It really is that simple. I have concrete evidence of this. I had a jewelry business ten years ago, in 2010, and it failed after about 12 months and I had to go back to being a lawyer. Why? I didn't believe I deserved to earn a living doing something I love. I didn't believe that a job could be fun. I didn't believe I could earn enough money to support myself making jewelry. But this time around, with grace + hudson, I DO believe I deserve to earn a living doing something I love. I do believe that work can (and should!) be fun and enjoyable. I do believe I can earn enough money to support myself. And you know what, that's exactly what's shown up for me this time around. What changed, you ask? Well, I did a lot of self-development work on myself. I mean, a TON of work on myself. And it was hard. And it brought up a lot of tears and caused me to examine a lot of things about myself, some of which I didn't particularly like. But I am standing here today a changed person, a happier person, and a person who feels at peace with life. So please believe me when I tell you that the only person holding you back is YOU. I've been there and I see it so clearly now. I was holding myself back the whole time with these negatives ideas, thoughts, beliefs, and stories about how the world works and what was possible for me and my career.

If this resonates with you, what comes next? I think the first step is becoming aware of the stories, beliefs, thoughts, and ideas that are ruling your life and shaping your career. Some will be positive, but many will likely be negative. This is the hardest part. It's hard to be honest with ourselves about the storylines running in our head, and we also have a lot of blindspots. Let me give you an analogy: I was born in May so I'm a Taurus and we are notoriously stubborn, but it's hard for me to admit that I'm stubborn sometimes. A person will call me stubborn and I'll basically gasp and say, "Who? Me?" This is what happens when we start to honestly look at our stories and beliefs around our career (or any area of our life). You might think you're a positive person, but upon further examination you might realize that you actually have quite negative storylines surrounding your career. But you won't want to see it. You won't want to believe it. This is where the personal, self-development works comes into play. It takes a lot of courage to admit where we are weak, and where we can do better. And then it takes a lot of strength to change our ways. Like me, you might find you need the help of a therapist depending on the strength of your negative storylines and that is nothing to be ashamed about. Once you've identified your negative storylines, the rest is (comparatively speaking) easy. Decide upon a positive storyline and start repeating it to yourself - in time, you'll begin to believe it. It'll drown out the negative storyline. And then that'll have a causal effect on what you see start to show up for you!

xoxo,

Stacy

 

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How I Use Simple Mantras To Improve My Mindset

How I Use Simple Mantras To Improve My Mindset

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 am sharing more about my mantra practice. Since the coronavirus outbreak, I've been super intentional about setting a mantra each morning to come back to during moments of sadness or panic (it's been a rollercoaster of emotions, hasn't it?!). I've been sharing these mantras on my Instagram each day and I've gotten so much positive feedback that I thought I'd discuss this practice a little more in this week's journal entry.

Someone asked, "How did you start this practice and how can I start my own?" and I honestly never thought about it before. It was a very organic process for me. I started listening to guided meditations and oftentimes there would be a phrase or two in the meditation that would really resonate with me. For instance, "Today I have everything I need" would be a great example of a mantra that would resonate with me right now, in the midst of the coronavirus outbreak where money, food, toilet paper and health are no longer guarantees. I would take that phrase with me throughout the day and repeat it when I felt stressed, overwhelmed, nervous, or depressed. I started doing this more and more often, until eventually it turned into a full-blown daily practice. I now have a journal where I write down the phrases that resonate with me and when I need a good mantra for the day, all I have to do is open this journal and pick one that strikes the mood for the day.

So how can you start selecting your own daily mantras? I'd recommend the same course of action! Listen to guided meditations (p.s. they don't need to be long - there are many 5 minute meditations available online for free). Then start writing down the phrases from the meditations that resonate with you. You'll know them when you hear them because the words will cause a wave of calm to flow over your body. Then, when you feel panic, stress, or sadness during the day, go back to that sheet of paper and silently read those calming phrases to yourself. You'll build up a collection of mantra phrases in no time, and you can come back to it every morning to select one to take with you throughout the day. If you are new to meditation, I like Gabby Bernstein a lot. Her mediations are typically short, accessible, and not intimidating.   

Why do mantras work? I think mantras are important because they reframe the story you've got running through your head. You can repeat negative thoughts all day long, or you can repeat positive thoughts all day long. The choice is yours. However, most of us are not even aware of the thoughts in our head, let alone whether they are positive or negative (and unfortunately for some reason the human brain always wants to repeat negative stories). There is tremendous power in gaining this awareness, and then using it for good. It was actually a big part of my journey from lawyer to jewelry business owner as I had to reframe the negative, limiting career stories I was telling myself. Maybe I'll write about that next week!

Stay positive, stay calm, stay healthy!

xoxo,

Stacy

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What Gift Is The Universe Trying To Give You Right Now?

What Gift Is The Universe Trying To Give You Right Now?

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 again stay relevant to what's happening in our world with the coronavirus. The energy that I'm feeling these past few days reminds me a lot of the energy I felt when I was going through my own personal crisis in 2014 when my father passed away from cancer. Life stops and takes a long pause, whether you like it or not. The world forces you to reorganize your priorities. You have no choice but to cease your existing routine. Being in a space like that is incredibly disorienting. And very scary. But it can also be an incredible gift if you allow this time to change you, rather than resist it and complain about it.

Each one of us can learn something significant about ourselves right now. Maybe you've been hustling and grinding for years and this quiet time has already shown you that you need to slow down for the benefit of your physical and mental health. Maybe it's shown you that you haven't been a terrific friend because you've been "too busy" and you need to make more of an effort in your friendships. Maybe it's shown you that you've been taking your health for granted, and you've already started to take more walks around the block and cook healthier meals. All of these changes are true gifts that can stick with you for a lifetime and increase the quality of your life from here on out.

The other gift that's readily apparent right now (for many of us anyways) is time. A few months ago, I took a poll on my Instagram Stories because there are so many women out there who want to start their own business but haven't yet. I wanted to understand what was holding them back and see if I could help (and I've since offered a Mentoring Program which you can read more about by clicking here). I distinctly remember that most of the women who replied said they haven't started their own business yet because they just don't have the time. Think about all the things you've put off or declined entirely because of a lack of time. Here it is! We will never get this time back. We can spend it glued to the news, hearing the same information being repeated over and over again, or we can make mature decisions to consume the news several times per day in smaller chunks and use the remaining time proactively. Maybe we're all built differently, but I feel a heck of a lot better working on a jewelry project with my favorite playlist in the background than I do sitting in front of the news for 2 hours at a clip. Maybe one of your coping strategies during this difficult time can be working on the project or the business idea that you have never had any time for. Start small - set aside 20 minutes tomorrow to work on it. See how it feels. You may find that it excites you and distracts you from your worries so much that an hour goes by in the blink of an eye. It might be the best thing you do for your mental sanity all week. And maybe not - but at least you gave it a shot. You have nothing to lose!

When things get tough this week, I hope you are able to take a breath, sit down, and focus on the gifts that are being presented to you right now rather than the difficulties. It's our choice to direct our energy towards what's missing and what we've lost... or towards the opportunities and lessons that are showing up for us right now and can forever improve our lives going forward.

Stay calm, stay healthy, stay positive!

xoxo,

Stacy

 

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There's a Silver Lining In Every Negative Situation (And Why It's Important To Realize This In Business And In Life)

There's a Silver Lining In Every Negative Situation (And Why It's Important To Realize This In Business And In Life)

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 finding the silver lining. In life, we’ll all have failures, make mistakes, and experience at least a few crises (one of which is going on right now with the global coronavirus pandemic). But there’s always an opportunity to look for the silver lining. I believe every negative situation shows up to teach us something, to grow us, or to evolve us into better versions of ourselves. When you look at life this way, it becomes a lot easier to accept challenges, make big changes, take risks, and strive for your dreams because it truly is a win-win situation. Even if you “fail” you will learn something, put a new experience under your belt, perhaps acquire new skills, and maybe even meet new people along the way that will help shape your future path. How do I know this to be true? From my own experience of course. I started to look at life this way when I realized that the worst, most negative experience of my entire life - watching my father battle an aggressive cancer for 10 months and pass away at home in hospice care - literally led to the best thing that’s ever happened in my life and that’s starting grace + hudson. When a parent passes away, especially when it’s at a relatively young age like 65, all of a sudden you understand (I mean, really understand) that you aren’t here forever and that you’ve got to make the most of this one precious life. If I hadn’t gained this new appreciation for life from experiencing my father’s death, I have no doubt that I’d still be a miserable lawyer, wishing away the days until retirement when I can finally quit and move to a beach. Instead, I quit and moved to a beach in my 30’s (I live just 5 miles away from the ocean now!). I feel more alive now than I ever have, and I feel so lucky to have an appreciation for life that most people my age just don’t have. If I can find the silver lining in watching my father die from cancer in hospice care, I know you can find the silver lining in whatever situation is confronting you now.

Let me give you another really poignant example. You’ve probably heard me talk about this before, but it’s worth reiterating here. I quit my lawyer job once before, in 2010, and opened a brick + mortar jewelry store in New Jersey where I grew up. I closed the store after just one year and had to go back to being a lawyer, but it was such a pivotal step on my journey. Without that experience, grace + hudson wouldn’t be what it is today. In fact, I’m not sure it would be around at all! When I had that store in 2010, brides-to-be often came in looking for bridesmaid jewelry gifts. They all raised the same complaints and were looking for similar things. I have never been married myself, so there was no way for me to know how hard it is to find classy jewelry with sophisticated, subtle color to match a wedding. At a giftable price point. That can be worn again after the wedding (so it truly is a “gift” and not just something to wear in the ceremony). Having that first “failed” store was a crucial step in me building a successful second business that focuses on classy, giftable jewelry. Aside from learning about this need in the marketplace, this first “failed” store taught me a TON about what it takes to run a business. You can read all day long about what it takes to start a business (and you should because knowledge is power!) but until you’re in the thick of it, you just don’t know. It’s just one of those things you need to experience first-hand. All the mistakes I made the first time around taught me how to be better this time around. I also met so many amazing people in the process. So it goes without saying that I don’t for one single second regret opening that first jewelry store in 2010 even though most would label it a “failure.”

Now, more than ever, it’s important to find the silver lining. There is always a silver lining. Let’s look at the current situation with the coronavirus for a second. Yes, it’s an absolutely awful situation and it’s wreaking havoc on our lives. But let’s try to focus on the smallest positives. At the very least, it’ll give you more time at home and maybe that means bonding more with your husband, your children, or even your dog. Maybe this time away from the office will allow you to avoid a commute and catch an extra hour of sleep in the mornings, or show your boss just how productive you can be at home and earn you the right to work remotely more often going forward. Maybe eating more frequently at home instead of going out all the time will help you feel healthier and help you kickstart a new habit of cooking healthy meals at least several times a week. In any situation, there’s the opportunity to focus on the negative, and then there’s the opportunity to discover what the negative might be able to teach you. 

I hope you’ll keep these examples in mind when you have to deal with something negative - whether that’s the coronavirus, a failed business, or anything in between. I also hope this perspective (that you really haven't "failed" if you've learned or grown from the experience) helps you gain the courage to go after your dream or make a big change. It's not really about whether the dream or big change succeeds, it's about who you become along the way. Cheers to staying safe, calm, grounded, and positive over the next few weeks.

xoxo,

Stacy

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How I Made 3 Life-Changing Decisions In The Last 3 Years

How I Made 3 Life-Changing Decisions In The Last 3 Years

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'm talking about following your gut and your intuition. If you've been following along with me for a little while, you know that I have made some big changes in the past 3 years. I quit my lawyer job to start a jewelry business, I moved from Chicago to Charleston, and now I'm expanding my online business by opening a brick and mortar jewelry store in Charleston. I guess it's pretty obvious that I'm not someone who enjoys remaining in her comfort zone (we have one lifetime! I'm going to spend it doing all the things I want to experience!). But I truly understand that for most, making big change and approaching an uncertain path is not easy. And let me be clear - none of this has been "easy" for me. All of these decisions have involved some hard work, some hard decisions, and some risk (and only came after 3+ years of pretty intense therapy and hard work on myself). Because I've experienced these 3 big changes recently, I wanted to take a minute to talk about how I did it. How I just knew these were the right decisions for me, even though they were all a little scary at the time. If you've been evaluating a big life change, maybe this will help you think about your decision in a new light.

All three of my recent big decisions had something in common - I had an undeniable knowing, a huge gut feeling, a big intuitive hit that these were the right decisions for me. For example, when I decided to quit my lawyer job, I happened to be in St. John and St. Thomas (my home away from home) and I was on the beach very early in the morning by myself on the last morning of vacation. I was praying for guidance and got this seriously overwhelming feeling that if I had the courage to take the leap and quit my job, that I would be caught. That I would be provided for. These intuitive feelings were so strong, I remember them like they happened yesterday. Then, when I decided to move away from Chicago, I again had the same overwhelming intuitive feeling that it was time to close my chapter in Chicago. Coincidentally (or maybe not), this feeling occurred right after I returned to Chicago from a trip to St. John. All of a sudden, I just knew that my time in Chicago was over. It was this undeniable feeling that it was time to move on. Then, most recently, I decided to sign a lease for a jewelry store in downtown Charleston and again I got this seriously overwhelming "knowing" that this is what I'm supposed to do. A totally undeniable feeling. So undeniable that if I had said "no" to the lease, I would have felt like I was betraying myself. Seriously. That's how strong the feeling was on all three occasions. 

Maybe you'll say I'm blessed to have such strong intuition, but I believe everyone has the ability to tune into their intuition. We have all experienced a gut feeling at some point. Maybe some people get them more often than others, but I think it's something we all have in common as humans. We are given this gut instinct as part of our make-up. What's the problem then? I think a lot of people don't get quiet and still enough to actually listen to their gut or pick up on their intuitive hits. For example, a woman who is go-go-go and busy 25 hours per day (that's not a typo) may be getting intuitive hits, but she can't even see or hear them because she is so distracted by life. This doesn't mean she necessarily needs to learn how to meditate for an hour a day, but she does need to find a way to get calm, grounded, and feel more stillness in her daily life so that intuitive thoughts and gut feelings can be seen and heard. Maybe that's doing yoga in the evenings before bed for 20 minutes, or making time for a 30 minute walk a few times per week, or maybe even sipping morning coffee in solitude for 10 minutes without the distractions of an iPhone or TV. 

Now, the Universe (or God, or whatever word you like to use) only provides the intuitive hit - it's up to you to take the first step. In all three of my big decisions, I had the courage to take that first big step forward because I have a tremendous amount of faith and trust in my intuition. I knew that all three changes were going to grow me into a better person and - even if they didn't turn out the way I had envisioned - they were going to turn out to be exactly what I needed to grow and evolve into the next chapter of my life. I also knew these big changes were going to involve some growing pains, but that is normal and I didn't freak out about it. I kept my eye on the prize, sort of speak. I like to use this analogy: the Universe provides the intuitive guidance but you have to decide you're ready to crack your shell and grow beyond your current situation. The cracking is going to be a little difficult and might even be painful at times, but you'll make it through because you know there is a bigger shell - a bigger life - waiting for you on the other side.

And now here's the magic: once you take that first step, once you say an undeniable "YES", the Universe (or God) is going to show up again and be right by your side the entire time. Trust me. Have faith in that. I've experienced it firsthand, on more than one occasion. In fact, no less than three times in the last three years :) If you've been following along with me for any part of the last 3 years, I hope I can be an example of what can happen when you say "YES." When you take a risk. When you make a big change (or two, or three!).

So here's a cheers to following your gut and cracking your existing shell to make room for a bigger one!

xo,

Stacy

 

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Why Does Tragedy Inspire Us?

Why Does Tragedy Inspire Us?

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'm talking about tragedy as a source of inspiration. I've been thinking about it a lot after Kobe Bryant's death last month. As some of you already know, grace + hudson was born after I experienced a tragedy -- my father was diagnosed with cancer at age 64 and passed away just 10 months later. Experiencing the death of my father at a relatively young age and somewhat suddenly (his side of the family usually lived into their 90's) caused me to view life so differently. I feel like Kobe's death made a lot of people think about life in a different way, too. I think it left a lot of young people pondering the question, "What if I only live until age 41?" It's a fact -- none of us are guaranteed to live that long. Heck, none of us are even guaranteed tomorrow. How would you live your life differently if you really, truly, took that sentiment to heart? What changes would you make?

The sad reality is, unless the tragedy personally impacts you (like me and my father) those thoughts are usually quite fleeting and no action results. After a few weeks, we settle back into our comfort zone and forget about the deep questions we pondered and the changes we resolved to make. It's kind of like the "vacation effect" as I like to call it. You go away on vacation, get the courage to finally quit your toxic job because the stress is literally killing you (and being on vacation allowed you to get some clarity on that), you work up your "I quit" speech on the plane ride home, and then 48 hours later you completely forgot you even had a speech and you're right back in the throws of your completely stressful job. You identify with this in some capacity, yeah? This was me after every vacation I took while I was a lawyer. Until I came out on the other side of the grief from my father's passing that is. 

Last year, I listened to a podcast by Lewis Howes and Michael Bernard Beckwith and Michael said that big change comes from one of two places -- inspiration or tragedy. He echoed the point that, for most, it's tragedy. Why? He said that for big change to happen, the pain of changing needs to be LESS THAN the pain of staying the same (read that again - it's really good!). Generally speaking, the pain of changing is usually less than the pain of staying the same after a tragedy. For example, after my father's death, I was able to fully admit and accept that my life wasn't working for me. That if I died at age 65 like him, I would be incredibly disappointed with how I allowed my life to turn out. The pain of that reality - of allowing things to stay the same and making no changes - was far greater than the pain of getting out of my comfort zone to make some big changes.  

So I worked with a therapist for almost 3 years on my grief and a whole host of other issues, and then I was finally in a healthy mental position to start making some real changes. I quit my job as a lawyer and started grace + hudson. A short time later, I moved out of Chicago to realize my lifelong dream of living by the beach. I moved to Charleston and got a place 5 miles from the beach. I started to make my relationships more of a priority, and sure enough, I met a fantastic guy and things are moving pretty quickly. It is AMAZING what happens when you say to the Universe, "Ok, let's do this!" 

In short, we are not here for long so do what you want to do. Pursue what's in your heart. Don't waste one more week frustrated, angry, stressed out, and upset in a toxic job or relationship (or whatever life circumstance is weighing you down). I know that my father is smiling down on me, proud of the way I've used his death as a reason to live more of a life. What better gift could a parent give his child? I am grateful for that lesson every single day of my life. And when I feel called to do something that feels a little scary or crazy, like open up a jewelry store in Charleston (which is happening in a few weeks if you missed it!) I come back to this lesson. Life is short. Do what's in your heart. Do what you feel called to do. I'm so proud of the way I've changed my life. It wasn't easy, but it was worth it. SO worth it. And I can now truly say that if my life was cut short, I would leave with no regrets.

So let tragedy inspire you. Let the event that happened last month be a catalyst. What if you died at age 41? The fact of the matter is, each of us, no matter our age, should be living life as if this day might be our last. You get incredible courage, motivation, and inspiration when you look at the world through that lens. 

xoxo,

Stacy

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How I Got Into The Bridal & Bridesmaid Jewelry Market

How I Got Into The Bridal & Bridesmaid Jewelry Market

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'm talking about how I found my niche in the jewelry market. If you have your own business or have thought about having your own business, people will always tell you that you've got to find a niche. Last year, when I was in St. John in the Virgin Islands talking about my business to a friend's husband - this really cool, older, super wealthy business man in his 70's - his response was, "You gotta love a niche market." It's true! Especially in this day and age where we can easily purchase anything on the Internet from companies all over the world, it's really important to find your niche or else you're going to be just another company selling another piece of jewelry (or whatever it is you do). My niche is giftable jewelry (i.e. jewelry primarily in the price point of $40 to $70), and even more specifically jewelry for gifting to bridesmaids, and even more specifically, jewelry for gifting to bridesmaids designed by a former lawyer pursing a prettier life. Now, as you know I sell things outside of that niche (i.e. jewelry for brides and casual jewelry not appropriate for a wedding) but I focus on perfecting my tiny niche in the market and then the rest follows. For example, a woman might find my jewelry because she's getting married but she continues to follow along with me after her wedding because she likes how my jewelry can be dressed up for a wedding or dressed down for the weekend and she finds my story of attorney-turned-jewelry-designer inspiring. This whole idea of a niche market might seem counter-intuitive to you. You might think that you need to please a wide variety of people with your offerings in order to maximize your potential for sales. But do you remember what your mother told you? "When you try to please everyone, you please no one." Yep, that's right. So here's how I found my niche in the jewelry market, and maybe it'll be helpful to you if you're thinking about starting your own business or already have a business but need help growing it.

You may have heard that I quit my job as a lawyer not once, but twice. The first time it was 2010 and I opened a brick and mortar jewelry store in New Jersey near where I grew up. While the store ultimately didn't stay open for long, I learned two *really* important things from having that store that have been instrumental in the jewelry business I have today. First, I learned that telling my story (i.e. lawyer turned jewelry designer) was really, really, really important to my marketing. I witnessed this first-hand countless times. My store was down the street from a courthouse so lawyers (and people who worked for lawyers) were always stopping by. When they heard I quit my job at a very prominent law firm in the area to pursue my dream of owning a jewelry store, they were captivated and wanted to know more. I happily told them the short version of my story (or long version if they had time!) and nearly every conversation ended in a sale. They wanted to buy my jewelry because they liked me and my story and they wanted to support me. And maybe too because each time they looked at that necklace in the mirror, it would remind them that they too could quit their job and do something different that made them happy. When I started grace + hudson, I knew telling my story was going to be really important to my success. I just love talking about my career change (probably more than I love making jewelry!) so this is a win-win. If I can inspire just 1 person to have the courage to go after her dream and quit a job that is toxic to her, I feel like I have served my purpose in the world. 

I learned something else too while I had that shop. Brides-to-be were always dropping by asking for bridesmaid jewelry to gift to their bridesmaids. They all said the same thing: "I found classy jewelry that matches my wedding colors at Nordstrom but I can't afford to buy 6 of them because they're $200 each. I also found jewelry that incorporates my wedding colors at Kohl's but it is too cheap looking to wear in a wedding." It was like a record on repeat! I've always played the bridesmaid, not the bride, so I wasn't aware of this problem. This gap in the market, if you will. I decided I was well-equipped to fill that gap - the gap between the expensive pieces at Nordstrom and the cheap-looking pieces at Kohl's - because I absolutely love incorporating soft, subtle, sophisticated colors in my designs and that's often what brides are looking to buy for their bridesmaids. 

So what's your niche? Think long and hard about what makes YOU unique. There's no one like you, and when you really leverage that uniqueness into your branding, no one can compete with you. Seriously. And here's another tip: make your brand personal. Show your face. Tell your story. That's something a large retailer like Nordstrom or Kohl's cannot do. They sell products. Period. They are too huge of a corporate empire to have a personal story. I always think to myself, what can I do that {insert big retailer name} can't do because they're too large? Then I do that. For example, aside from talking about my personal career journey, I offer free adjustments and repairs and customizations of your jewelry. See a necklace on my website but wish it was 20 inches long instead of 18 inches long? Send me an email! That's so easy for me to do. Can a large retailer do that? Nope. Break your dainty necklace chain when your toddler yanks on it? Send it to my studio and I'll repair it for free! Can a large retailer do that? Nope, they'll make you buy a new one. I hope this advice has been helpful and inspiring to you today!

xoxo,

Stacy

 

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I'm Opening A Shop In Downtown Charleston!

I'm Opening A Shop In Downtown 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. In this week's journal entry, I'm sharing how it feels to be opening a jewelry shop in Charleston! Ok, so, I'll be the first to admit I didn't see this coming. I really didn't. Two months ago, if you had told me this would be happening, I would've said no thanks. It's true! I owned a brick and mortar jewelry store the first time I quit my attorney job back in 2010 and it didn't work out. Truthfully, back then, owning a shop sounded a lot more fun than it really was day-to-day. I also didn't know how to finance the shop and I ran out of money pretty quickly. This forced me to go back to my lawyer job and hire employees to run the shop while I was at the office. I was working 60+ hours a week as a lawyer and then going to the shop at night and on the weekends. It was a ton of work and I enjoyed parts of it very much, but let's just say I drank a lot of wine to cope with the stress. You get the idea. By this point you're probably thinking, "Why in the world is she trying this again? It didn't work the first time!" Well, how does that famous quote go again? "When at first you don't succeed, try, try again?" Yeah, something like that. So here's how it happened and here's what's different about this time.

Let's back it up for a second. You may or may not know that I am, more or less, a one-man show. Yep, that's right. I do EVERYTHING. I've had help along the way from interns, a consultant, and family members (specifically, my mother and my 10-year old nephew who is awesome at measuring and cutting necklace chain, and also thinks it's thrilling to weigh a box and print a shipping label). But this business is 2 1/2 years old now and it's time to hire some real permanent help. This year, I envision myself building a small team of part-time employees to help out with packaging orders, customer service, and jewelry making (unfortunately my nephew is not available due to school, darn). I need some additional office space where I can invite these people to come work, right? So that's how this whole thing started. At the end of January, I began researching office spaces in the area to find out what it might cost to acquire one. I drove around and called numbers I saw on "for rent" signs, contacted a couple of people who had listed properties in the "office/commercial" section of Craigslist, and used Google to find commercial rental listings. I quickly realized that renting an office space next to a couple of lawyers was a sunk cost. In other words, I can never recoup the cost of an office because I can't sell jewelry out of it. But if I had a space that had enough room for an office AND a store, then the hope is the space would pay for itself through customer sales. Do you feel me? And yes, the first office space I looked at was surrounded by two or three lawyers - wouldn't that have been something! After talking to me for a few months, all of them would have probably quit and started pursuing their dreams hahaha... I kind of have a reputation for that!

Anyways, I conducted this office space research for about a week before I realized it would just kill me to pay for an office that had zero revenue generation potential. If I was going to be sitting there all day working anyways, it might as well be a pretty space that customers could wander into, right? The lawyer offices were pretty... pretty darn ugly that is! I didn't feel myself or my future employees feeling very inspired or creative in such a sterile space. So then I started to dream about a space that had room for a store and an office, and also had a nice place for packaging up all of those online orders. And out of thin air, this amazing space in downtown Charleston just one block from King Street (the main shopping street) showed up literally 4 days later. I journal about these things so I went back and counted and it was literally only 4 days! Then two days later, I saw the space for a second time, met the landlord, and agreed to sign a lease. All in all, this office space search, which morphed into a store search, lasted only about 2 1/2 weeks. Isn't that something? Talk about fast! When things happen so quickly like that, you know it's right. It just feels meant to be. Needless to say, the landlord is also happy that the first person to see his available space ended up renting it. He didn't even have the place on the market for a week yet! He is so incredibly nice and kind so I'm sure the Universe was on his side too. We're a perfect match!

So I'll end with this - why would I have the guts to try this a second time?! Well, I'm in an entirely different position than I was back in 2010. For starters, my online business is already generating enough money to pay for the space so I won't run into the financing issue I had the first time around. Online businesses are so great in that way. You can test the idea pretty inexpensively and see if people like what you have to offer without taking on the cost of store rent, employees, etc. Second, I need the space regardless. Even if I make zero sales from the shop space, I still needed to invest in an office and the packaging room this year to grow my business to the next level with the help of a few part-time employees. But I'm 99.9% sure that the space is going to end up paying for itself each month through in-person customer sales, which means I come out ahead in the game. An office would never be able to pay for itself because I couldn't invite customers inside. Third, and maybe ironically, owning that first store that "failed" gives me great comfort this time around. I'm so excited about this new space, but of course I have fears. I'm human! Whenever we get out of our comfort zone, it's normal for fears to pop up. So I take a few deep breaths, let the fearful feeling pass, and focus on more rational thoughts like: I know what owning a store is like. I've done this before. I know what to expect. I know I can do it. This is not a foreign experience to me. And in that way, that first "failure" is not a failure at all. It prepared me for today. Isn't life funny that way? All of the dots end up connecting in the end...

I seriously cannot wait to share this space with you. It's going to be so pretty!

xoxo,

Stacy

 

 

 

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The Most Influential Books I've Read On My Journey

The Most Influential Books I've Read On My Journey

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'm sharing the most influential books I've read along my journey. Switching from a very traditional professional, like the law, to a creative, entrepreneurial gig was a huge transformation and it spanned several years. It started in 2014 when I lost my father to cancer. He had just turned 65 years old. Losing a parent made me understand my own mortality in an entirely different way. It sparked a burning desire to live a more fulfilling life. I resolved to get out of the legal profession once and for all because life is far too short to spend so many of my waking hours working in a career I hated. I often pondered the question "Why are we here?" because I knew it wasn't to spend 60+ hours a week in an office working at a job I didn't like, with the aim of saving enough money to someday retire in my 60's, move to a beach, and finally start living life. You see, that was my father's plan and he passed away before he got the chance. That's why you'll see some grief-related books on this list, and books that relate to the meaning of life. You'll also see books related to getting through hard times, creating a vision for your life, and learning to truly live in the present because that's all we're ever guaranteed. What if you never make it to retirement, like my father? Will you be satisfied with how you've lived your life? If not, I highly encourage you to explore this question and dig into some of these books. It can light a spark in you to truly make some changes - changes that will lead you towards living a more fulfilling life. I hope you'll find some of these books as helpful as I did. 

1. A Return to Love by Marianne Williamson

My favorite! Very instrumental in changing my perspective on life, work, and relationships. This book is based off another book called A Course In Miracles, which asserts the theory that everything we do, think, and say either stems from love or stems from fear. This was very eye-opening for me because I realized that so many of my actions were coming from a place of fear, doubt, worry, and anxiety. Rather than love, joy, peace, and empowerment. When we make decisions from a place of love, and stop letting doubt, worry and fear control our lives, things change dramatically. 

2. You Are a Badass and You Are a Badass at Making Money by Jen Sincero

This book explores a lot of the same concepts as A Return to Love, but it's written in a very funny style as you might guess from the title. I also recommend the author's book on money because, let's face it, money is the number one thing that holds us back from pursing our dreams. You must examine and clean up any negative thoughts and feelings around money if you're going to see true abundance in your life.

3. The Universe Has Your Back by Gabrielle Bernstein

This book is helpful if you're having a hard time believing that you'll be ok if you take some risks and make some big changes. The Universe (or whatever word you prefer - God, Divine Power, etc) will have your back if you are being true and authentic to yourself and make changes that are in line with that.

4. Sacred Contracts by Caroline Myss

The author of this book believes we all have a purpose and an assignment in being here on this planet at this time, and she calls that our "sacred contract" to fulfill. If you're not in line with that contract, you are going to feel "off" and perhaps evenas if you're betraying your own soul (this is how I felt when I was a lawyer). This book is great if you know you're not doing what you're supposed to be doing, but you don't know what to do next. In my opinion, this book is very tough to get through but the concept is phenomenal. I'd recommend you Google Oprah's very old interview with the author and watch that. Then, if you're hungry for more, read the book.

5. Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

6. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

Books #5 and #6 are great reads if you're seeking to understand the purpose for your life and/or need some encouragement to pursue that purpose.

7. The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle

8. A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle

9. The Untethered Soul by Michael Singer (the first few chapters are particularly excellent if the voice in your head is always going, going, going and you can never find any stillness or peace of mind)

10. The Seat of the Soul by Gary Zukav

Books #7 through #10 are about living in the present and finding happiness outside of the material things our society has taught us to value like job titles, getting married, the size of your home, the brand of your car, etc. Happiness does not come from checking each box off on this life "checklist" - happiness comes from living your authentic path, and that looks different for everyone.

11. Daring Greatly by Brene Brown

If you want to make a big change, like a massive career change, you are going to need some courage. I like how this author explores the concept of courage and how to be true to yourself.

12. Life Visioning by Michael Bernard Beckwith

This is one of my favorite books on creating a vision for your life and finding your purpose, but the author has a very distinct style and he might not be for everyone. I recommend you purchase this on Audible so that you can do the guided meditations with the author. This is also a great book for understanding the various mental states - for example, are your thoughts stemming from a victim mentality (e.g. "everything bad happens to me") or do you believe you are entitled to a great life? Your thoughts create your reality and I think this author does a great job of helping you recognize the area where your thoughts might be incredibly negative.

13. May Cause Miracles 40-Day Guidebook by Gabrielle Bernstein

All of the books on this list are great and all of them are basically saying the same thing on some level, but none of the information in these books is going to be useful to you in real life unless you apply it. This guidebook was really important for me in building a daily practice of applying this information to my own life. I recommend the Audible version so you can listen to each of the 40 days while you get ready in the morning for work or on your commute.

The following books are grief-related and/or explore getting through hard times. These were instrumental for me in understanding the bigger picture, what really matters in life, and what I really want for my own life:

14. Broken Open by Elizabeth Lesser

15. When Things Fall Apart by Pema Chodron

16. Man's Search for Meaning by Victor Frankl

17. God Will Use This for Good by Max Lucado

18. Dying To Be Me by Anita Moorjani

19. There is a Spiritual Solution to Every Problem by Wayne Dyer (contrary to what you might think, this is not a religious book - "spiritual" is used in the non-religious sense. It does assume however that you believe in some sort of divine or universal higher power)

20. The Shack by William Paul Young (also a movie which I really enjoyed)

I hope one of these books piques your curiosity! Honestly, I devoured book after book over a one-year period when I was in intense therapy after my father passed. My life was not working for me. I was not happy. Something needed to change. I was hungry for knowledge on questions like, "why am I here?", "how can I make changes to become a happier person?", "how can I fulfill my purpose?", "how can I use this life to the fullest?" If you know there's got to be more to life, but you just don't know where to begin, start with reading some of these books. There is so much information out there on how to live a better life. Be open. Be willing to see life a little differently. And soon enough, ideas will start to flow. You'll start to understand what you want, and what changes you need to make. It doesn't happen overnight, but it will all come together. For me, it took about 3 years to make big changes. In the grand scheme of things, 3 years is a tiny blip on the radar. So take it slow - there's no need to rush into anything. It'll all happen exactly the way it's supposed to.

xoxo,

Stacy  

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Is Your Lack Of Self-Confidence Masquerading Itself As Fear?

Is Your Lack Of Self-Confidence Masquerading Itself As Fear?

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 help you determine if a lack of self-confidence is holding you back from pursuing the career or business dream you'd really like to see happen. Let's start here - what are the top three things that are holding you back from making your biggest and wildest career dreams a reality? Think about it for a few minutes. I'm willing to bet that your top three includes the fear that it won't work out. But if you've been around for a couple of decades, you probably already noticed that a lot of things don't work out the way we intended and you're still here, alive and breathing and (hopefully) well. Yet, it's definitely the #1 reason people tell me they're scared about starting their own business or making a huge career change like I did. If there are other good, valid, rational reasons why your business idea or career change COULD work out, then I think you're dealing with the pesky voice of fear. Fear is meant to protect us - from the shady character in the dimly lit parking lot, from jumping off a 50-foot building, from trying to lift 100 lbs at the gym when in reality we probably can't even lift 50 lbs without hurting a major muscle group. But all too often a lack of self-confidence masquerades itself as the voice of fear. Why? Because it's a sure fire way to get our attention! It stops us in our tracks and makes us doubt (or at least reconsider) whether we're taking the right path or making the right move. When that happens, most of us feel paralyzed and unable to move forward because we don't have enough confidence in our dreams, ideas, and plans. We don't trust that we could make it happen. We don't believe that we're good enough or worthy enough to live out our big dreams. In short, we don't have enough confidence in ourselves. Making a big, giant leap towards your dreams requires confidence, gumption (I love that word!), and a whole lot of courage. It's hard to have those things when we lack basic self-confidence.

I should be the poster child for self-confidence -- it would look something like a "before and after" weight loss ad except my face would go from looking miserable and totally down on myself to radiating joy and positivity, and the headline would read, "Woman's self-confidence sky rockets from 'bottom of the barrel' to 'off the charts' in less than 3 years." I had zero self-confidence for a long time and I didn't really get into healthy, normal levels of self-confidence until I was about 36 years old. I think all of us (especially females) struggle with self-confidence at least a little bit and we all mask it in different ways. I think my difficulty with self-confidence primarily stemmed from growing up with a father who was extremely critical and very likely bipolar (my grandmother - his mom - was diagnosed as bipolar). Needless to say, I worked through those issues with the help of an amazing therapist I saw after my father passed away and I can now clearly see how my lack of self-confidence often masqueraded as the voice of fear and held me back in so many ways. For one, it kept me stuck in a job I didn't like for over 10 years because I didn't believe I deserved better. I didn't believe I was worth more than that. I believed that it was okay to waste my entire life being miserable and full of anxiety about work (and I worked as an attorney so "my entire life" is no exaggeration because of the extremely long hours I worked). When I changed these beliefs about myself and what I deserved (and it wasn't easy or quick - it took about 2 years), wow did my life change. 

So what's holding you back? Are there rational, substantial reasons why your dream job or dream business could NEVER work out? Or is your dream a feasible idea, but your lack of self-confidence is getting in the way? If it's the latter, one of the most valuable things you could ever do is work on your self-confidence because it'll positively impact all areas of your life. Maybe, like me, you'll need to see a therapist. Trust me, this is time and money well spent. Or maybe you have a healthy level of self-confidence and you just need a daily reminder to distinguish the voice of fear from the voice of self-doubt. It's a daily practice, at least for me, to keep my self-confidence feeling healthy and strong.

If you honestly assess that low self-confidence is holding you back, I can't serve as your therapist but I can tell you one of the theories my therapist shared with me. She told me that increased self-care is one road that can lead to increased self-confidence (and there are books to prove it! Try Kristin Neff's book called Self-Compassion). Self-care includes things like baths, a relaxing weekend with no plans and no running around, journaling in a serene space with a candle and lavender essential oil, cooking a comforting meal (I find cooking so therapeutic!), going for a walk, meditating, etc. It looks different for everyone and is based on what brings you relaxation and comfort. When I was back in therapy, my therapist even gave me an assignment to treat myself to a massage every week for an entire month. (Did the voice in your head just say, "I could never do that!" Yeah, that's probably the pesky voice in your head again saying, "I don't deserve a massage every week. I could never afford that. I'm not worth it." How about getting a chair massage at a nail salon for $20 once a week?). Taking care of yourself in this way teaches your mind that you are worthy of being cared for, which then translates into increased self-worth and confidence. 

xoxo,

Stacy

 

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