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!
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