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!
Comments on this post (1)
Hello. I just came across your post. And you have inspired me so much. I am also in business selling jewelry. I currently have and office here in petaluma Ca my first place of business. I am in the process of getting me a store front. I really admire everything you said. No it’s not easy. But you have to trust the process and take a leap of faith. So glad I did. You really gave me a sign as it being possible to make it happen. Thanks for sharing your journey. God bless you and your wonderful business!!!! I am inspired by you.🙏🏾💙💜💐
— Brandi McGuire