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my journal

A Meaningful Interview About Career Change (Podcast Link Included)

A Meaningful Interview About Career Change (Podcast Link Included)

Welcome to another edition of my Weekly Journal! I use this space to share about my journey from lawyer to jewelry business owner. In this week's journal entry I'm sharing a podcast interview I recorded two weeks ago with a career change coach named Vilma Usaite. We spoke about my career change journey from start to finish and it turned out to be such a deep and meaningful conversation. She previously worked in finance and quit her corporate job, too! Here are some of the points we covered in the conversation:

  • how one pivotal life event woke me up and made me realize that life is short and that I had no reason not to pursue my dreams
  • how my trip to the Virgin Islands in 2008 completely changed the course of my life
  • how my health issues disappeared in a matter of weeks after I left the law
  • the pleasant by-products of a career change (like better health and a great romantic relationship)
  • how working on your mindset is more important than working on your website when you start a new business
  • how I learned first-hand that abundance is an internal game and does not depend on your outside circumstances 
  • about the new paradigm of running a business by embracing the feminine flow (as opposed to the masculine "hustle" mentality)
  • about pursuing an individual version of success 

To listen to the full podcast on Spotify, click here. To listen through Apple iTunes, click here.

If a career change is in your future, you can follow Vilma Usaite on Instagram by clicking here. You can also visit her website by clicking here. I urge you to listen to her podcasts, read her blog, and get in touch with her if you need help making a transition from one career to another. She looks at career change from a holistic perspective and, in my opinion, a career change made from this aligned, centered place is much more likely to work out in the end.  

If you'd like my Weekly Journal sent straight to your inbox every Monday night, click here to subscribe. I hope you're able to learn something from my experience and also my mistakes!

xoxo,
Stacy

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How Did I "Learn" How To Start My Own Business?

How Did I

Welcome to another edition of my Weekly Journal! I use this space to share about my journey from lawyer to jewelry business owner. In this week's journal entry I want to answer a question I get a lot. It goes something like this, "How did you learn how to start your own business? You know, how did you learn how to be a business owner?" I'm so far into the business ownership journey that sometimes I forget to back up, way up, to the very beginning. If you've spent years working as a teacher or lawyer or nurse, how do you learn how to do something else? It can sound a little daunting, right? Personally, I started by heading to...where else...the Internet! I did online research, took online courses, and found a whole bunch of podcasts on the topic of starting your own business. Before I get into more detail about these, allow me to make a quick aside. I want to mention that I do have an undergraduate degree in business but it didn't help much...ok, like, at all. Similarly, I've heard business school graduates with MBA degrees say the same thing. High level business school education at universities prepares you to work high-level corporate jobs - it doesn't really prepare you to be a small business owner. Why is that important? If you don't have a business degree, please do not let that deter you! You can do this!

Ok, let's get into it. Be so very thankful that the Internet exists right now at this moment in time! I'm sure it was a lot harder to start a business 30 or 40 years ago when the Internet wasn't the wealth of free information it is today. Just search "how to start an online business" in Google and you'll be bombarded with ads for days to come from teachers offering webinars on the topic. And honestly, that's how I initially found all the helpful courses, podcasts, articles, etc that guided me on my business journey. I'm not joking! Go Google it and you'll see exactly what I mean. At the beginning stages, you won't need to spend a dime on educating yourself about business ownership (seriously!). Many of the teachers in this area offer free webinars to woo you to take their paid online courses, and you could probably spend 12 months straight taking free webinars and studying free guides if you wanted to. There literally is that much information available out there. Don't believe me? One of my favorite teachers offers a guide of 322+ free business tools and resources (click here for it)!

Once you get sufficiently overwhelmed with all the information and teachers out there (and you will), find the teachers and teaching styles that resonate with you. We all learn differently and we all have different goals. Some teachers focus on service-based businesses (like career coaching) and some focus on product businesses (like jewelry) and some are in between. Once you find a couple teachers who resonate with you, just dive in! Go to their websites, read their guides, watch their videos, go down the rabbit hole! Get lost in it all. Youtube videos, podcasts, blogs, books, webinars, Instagram Lives, articles... digest and learn as much as you can.

Here's an important tip: if you start to go down these rabbit holes and you don't enjoy it, that's a red flag. For me, personally, I could listen to podcasts about starting a business, growing a business, and general entrepreneurship all day long. It truly does interest me. It's nerdy of me to admit, but I'd rather watch an interesting one-hour webinar on digital advertising than a show on Netflix. And this should be you during the start-up stage in particular... you should be craving knowledge and soaking it all up. If you aren't - if you're finding it boring, draining, and uninteresting - business ownership might not be for you. Why? Because owning a business primarily revolves around growth strategy, marketing strategy, website data and analytics, etc. If you don't like this part, it's going to be an up-hill battle. Let me put it a little differently - the "fun" part of my business, you know, the jewelry-marking part, takes up maybe 20% of my time. That means 80% of my time is filled with other business-related things. I think some people go into business ownership with false ideas of their day-to-day schedule. For example, if you want to open an online art business, don't expect to spend most of your days creating gorgeous paintings. Most of your time, especially in the beginning, will be spent on the "business side" of things. So, if that doesn't sound fun, save yourself a lot of heartache (and money!) and admit to yourself that business ownership is probably not the best fit for you. That's totally ok! 

I'm sure you're waiting for me to list my favorite resources, so here they are:

  • Marie Forleo
    • Her videos are gold! It's probably easiest to start with her video series on YouTube. She has a podcast too (which I think is the video content turned into audio). I enjoy her perspective so much that I enrolled in her B-School Course which wasn't cheap, but was honestly the best investment I ever made in my business. Her website is https://www.marieforleo.com/
  • Jenna Kutcher
    • She offers a ton of great content online, in both video and blog format. She also offers paid courses. I took her Pinterest for Business course recently and I thought it was well done. She has a podcast too! Her website is https://jennakutcher.com/
  • Amy Porterfield
    • Amy has been teaching for a long, long time. I've never taken any of her paid courses, but I've listened to some of her free webinars. For me personally, I found her later in my journey when I was too advanced for her most popular courses. She also has a podcast! Her website is https://www.amyporterfield.com/ 
  • Beth Anne of Brilliant Business Moms
    • Ok, I'm not a mom and you might not be either, but don't let it bother you. I really find her to be a great teacher - she is far more practical than anyone else I've come across. I took her Facebook Ads Intensive course and I am a Facebook Ads ninja because of her! You have to apply to the program to be accepted and she only does it a few times a year. Worth it's weight in gold. Here's her website: https://brilliantbusinessmoms.com/
  • Kaity Griffin
    • Kaity is a Google Ads teacher and she knows what she's talking about. She presents information in a quick and easy way. She can boil down hard topics into digestable bites. Here is her website: https://kaitygriffin.com/
  • Podcasts:
    • Marie Forleo's podcast
    • Jenna Kutcher's podcast called Goal Digger
    • Amy Porterfield's podcast called Online Marketing Made Easy
    • Rick Mulready's podcast called The Art of Online Business (don't start here first - this is more advanced)
    • How I Built This with Guy Raz (unlike the above, you won't learn practical advice here, but you'll learn how other businesses started and grew which is very helpful and inspirational too)

There you have it! Start with this smaller list and you'll naturally stumble upon so many other teachers and resources. If I can leave you with one last tip it would be this: you have got to learn and come to understand marketing, especially digital marketing (such as advertising on social media platforms). If no one knows about your business, it doesn't matter how great it is. People can't buy from businesses they don't know about. And in today's saturated online marketplace, you have got to learn how to navigate marketing. On a positive note, digital advertising has never been cheaper. It is so affordable to advertise online. I think there's no wiser way to spend your money than by investing in at least 2 or 3 online courses that deal with marketing once you've surpassed the stage of reviewing all the "free" information out there. For example, take Amy Porterfield's email list-building course and the Facebook Ads Intensive. 

If you'd like my Weekly Journal sent straight to your inbox every Monday night, click here to subscribe. I hope you're able to learn something from my experience and also my mistakes!

xoxo,
Stacy

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Your Start-Up Business Is An Investment - Treat It As Such!

Your Start-Up Business Is An Investment - Treat It As Such!

Welcome to another edition of my Weekly Journal! I use this space to share my journey from lawyer to jewelry business owner. In this week's journal entry I want to talk to the aspiring business owners out there. The new year brings a fresh start and new goals, and maybe you've decided that 2021 is your year to pursue the start-up business you've been dreaming about. If that's you, have you thought about your business as an investment? It is! Unlike a salaried job, a start-up business holds much more potential for exponential growth. While a salaried position commonly comes with yearly increases of 3% to 5%, a start-up business is more akin to buying a home in an up and coming area. If all goes well, you can turn a $100,000 initial investment into $1 million in just a matter of five or six years for example. I love this analogy in particular because when I quit my lawyer job I was at a juncture in my life where I could've put a nice down payment on a condo, but I decided to use that money to start grace + hudson instead.

So, now that we're thinking about a start-up business as an investment, let's talk about a phrase that aspiring business owners should keep in mind: if you aren't willing to invest in yourself and your business, don't expect anyone else to. When I first heard this, it cut like a knife but oh did it resonate. I was at the beginning of my business journey and cutting corners to save money was of course top of mind. I continually, though, came back to this phrase. I keenly understood that if I don't treat my business as an investment and invest money where it is reasonably needed, how can I expect people to invest in me and my idea by purchasing my products? This phrase saved me a lot of time and wasted effort trying to find ways to constantly cut corners. It also turned my start-up idea into a real brand and not just some DIY-looking hobby that I was trying to pass off as a legitimate business worthy of customer dollars.

Now, in my 4 years as a business owner, I have encountered a lot of start-up small business owners. And a lot of them harbor this negative attitude towards investing in their business. For example, they aren't getting any sales on their website but they don't want to spend money on a professional photographer to improve their product photos. They aren't familiar with basic marketing concepts, but they don't want to spend money on a $200 online course. It might sound cliche but you get what you give. And when you send a message out into the world that your business isn't worth appropriately investing in, then you're going to attract people who think your business isn't worth investing in. Do you feel me?

If you find you're harboring this attitude, what can you do? Two things come to mind - one is practical and one is mental. First, let's talk practical. There are ways to do things in a cost effective manner if money is an issue - you'll just need to get a little creative and think outside the box. For example, during the first few years of your business, work with the best photographer your budget will allow. Perhaps you can find a newbie who's just starting out with her business or maybe you can find a student at your local college who's pursuing photography and trying to build her portfolio. She'll often do it for free or for very little money, but she'll have a lot more photography skills than you do with your iPhone camera! As another example, if you don't have the money to take that online marketing class, email the instructor to inquire about payment plans. Often these instructors will allow you to pay for the class in installments. And, it goes without saying, instead of buying those new shoes you've had your eye on, put that money towards an item you need for your business. Some sacrifice is usually necessary when you're first starting out, but it'll be worth it in the end.

Second, let's address the mental side of this. Your reasons for not investing appropriate funds in your business may be 100% practical. For example, you have high expenses right now and there's nothing you can do about it, in which case perhaps you put off starting your business until you can get your finances in order. But I often find that money is not the sole explanation. Usually there's something else lurking in the background. If you aren't willing to invest in your business it might mean:

  • You don't think your business is worth investing in
  • You don't truly believe in your business idea
  • You don't have confidence that your business can be successful
  • You don't think you deserve a better life than the 9-to-5 most people pursue
  • The idea of business success actually kind of scares you (this is more common than you think! Google articles on "imposter syndrome")

Subconscious beliefs like these might be holding you back and manifesting as your unwillingness to invest in your business. Does that make sense? If one of these beliefs has a really big hold on you, you might even need the help of a coach or therapist to process it, pick it apart, dispose of it, and replace it with a more productive belief. If that's not the direction you'd like to go, try finding articles, books, and podcasts that talk about the mental and emotional issues that female entrepreneurs often encounter, self-confidence, imposter syndrome, etc. These might provide some "lightbulb moments" that snap you out of your current train of thought.

I'd like to end on this note. When you invest wholeheartedly in your business and really believe you have a service or product that can really serve others or solve a problem, people will take notice. People love to engage with businesses that radiate this energy. It feels good. It feels joyful. And conversely, people can also feel when something is off - they might not be able to pinpoint exactly what it is, but they'll be less likely to engage with your business.

If you'd like to subscribe to my Weekly Journal, click here to enter your name and email address. My Weekly Journal will be sent straight to your inbox each Monday night!

xoxo,
Stacy

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Are You Striving For Stuff Or Are You Striving For Peace And Personal Fulfillment?

Are You Striving For Stuff Or Are You Striving For Peace And Personal Fulfillment?

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 a shift in mindset that happened for me when I quit my lawyer job and started grace + hudson. It's something that is so simple, I can't believe I didn't notice it sooner. This shift has had a huge impact on how I look at my goals and how I prioritize my time. If you're stuck in a job you don't like (even if you're really good at it!) this journal entry is for you. This might be one of the keys that can help you unlock the door to your next, more fulfilling career.

Let's get right to it. The mindset shift that happened for me was this - am I striving for STUFF or am I striving for PEACE AND PERSONAL FULFILLMENT? Now, let me back up for one quick second before we dive into this. I wouldn't call myself a materialistic person or someone who owns a lot of luxury items - in fact, I don't think I own even one item from Gucci, Louis Vuitton, etc. But I still found this mindset shift to be life-changing for me. So before you say, hey, I'm not really into "name brand" things and therefore this isn't applicable to me, keep on reading.

Back when I was a lawyer, just a few short years ago, I unconsciously was striving for STUFF. A good job, a promotion, a pay raise, a nice apartment, savings in the bank, contributions to my 401(k), etc, etc. I say unconsciously because I never really stopped to think about why I was working so hard. I just followed. Followed what everyone else was doing, followed what people in my profession were doing, followed what I was "supposed" to do as a graduate of a top law school and Ivy League college. 

When I left that world - you know, the world of corporate America and traditional office jobs - and started doing things on my own, I had to start forming goals and making long-term decisions for myself. Meaning, I no longer had a figurative "checklist" handed to me by a boss or superior as to what I was "supposed" to be striving for (i.e. a promotion, pay raise, etc). It wasn't long before I noticed something that felt pretty pathetic and sad - I had never sat down and really thought about what I want for myself. Instead, I was just adopting these figurative checklists as my own. I thought, "Could this be why I've been so unhappy?"

You'll notice something on these corporate America "checklists" - they're all about STUFF. Acquiring the best performance review score, the biggest pay raise, the next promotion, the internal awards, etc. There is NOTHING and I mean NOTHING about acquiring personal fulfillment and satisfaction. Think about it, when was the last time your boss asked you, "Stacy, do you feel in alignment with your career? With the path you're on? Do you feel a sense of personal fulfillment? If not, how can I help you get there? Do you feel at peace with your work-life balance and feel like you are at a good place in your work and personal life?" For me, that was a big fat NEVER.

This leads us - often blindly - to pursue a lot of material goals to the exclusion of intangible, often more important goals. I don't know about you, but I worked at some pretty big law firms and the checklist of goals involved getting a promotion, a nice car, a house in the nice part of the city, getting married with a big engagement ring, etc. And when you "grow up" sorta speak in this world and haven't been exposed to any other career or job, it's hard not to fall in line and strive to acquire these things, too. I mean, afterall, it's what I'm "supposed" to do, right? Everyone else is doing it. I guess that means it's what I'm "supposed" to be striving for? 

When I left the legal profession, I realized how highly inaccurate this was. And I felt pretty sad about it. How had I missed something so glaring? How had I gone down this path without even realizing it? How had I not realized sooner that I was so unhappy because I was (a) pursuing mostly tangible things to the total neglect of more important internal things and personal goals and (b) pursuing someone else's version of "success" without even knowing what my own personal definition of the word meant?

I slowly shifted into a new mindset which, I can basically sum up as this: a shift from focusing on tangible things to intangible things. Instead of working towards getting that nice, new car I now want to work hard towards achieving an awesome work-life balance that leaves me feeling energized, fulfilled, and at peace in all the right ways. It's funny, but now that I do work that fulfills me on a soul-level, I find that I don't need the after-work shopping trips (and other purchases) quite so much. Looking back, I think I "treated myself" to all that stuff because I felt pretty unfulfilled on the inside. You know how it goes - I was trying to fill that hole with things like new shoes - and we all know that thrill only lasts for a short while. The only thing that can fill that whole is doing the inner work and finding out what truly fills it up in a healthy manner. For you that might mean a new position, or a new career, or maybe just a shift in goals. The answer is different for everyone.

This brings me to my last point. We go to these great schools, and get these great degrees, and we are programmed to choose from one or two or maybe three different career paths. There's different reasons for this which I won't get into here, but remember that we're all different. No two of us is built the same. Not even twins! Think about that. Yet we're all supposed to fit onto these narrow career pathways? It's not right. And it's what has a lot of very talented people feeling very trapped, very unfulfilled, and very unhappy with their day-to-day lives.

So, I challenge you to a sit down like the one I had. Where you truly unplug from the career goals you're programmed to have and write down what YOU want for your life and how your career fits into that. I bet you'll find some things on that list that you can't buy. You can't buy work-life balance at the store. You can't buy a sense of inner peace at the mall. You can't buy personal fulfillment online. But yet I believe those are the things we should be striving for most and, when you do, you'll find you need less and less stuff in your shopping cart to help fill the hole.

If you'd like to subscribe to my Weekly Journal, click here to enter your name and email address. My Weekly Journal will be sent straight to your inbox each Monday night!

xoxo,

Stacy

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Role Models: Be Careful Who You Surround Yourself With

Role Models: Be Careful Who You Surround Yourself With

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 take a minute to talk about role models. Two weeks ago, I wrote about breaking out of your traditional office job to do work you love, and this journal entry falls right in line with that concept. The "leaders" we work with have a lot of influence over our perceptions of our career, and their power often goes unnoticed or unacknowledged. Role models shape how you see your career and what you desire for your career. Sometimes for the better, but also sometimes for the worst. So let's take a minute to become aware of the role models in our life and to consciously decide whether they represent what we want for ourselves. If not, the first step to breaking out of your current career to do work you love might be to get some new role models. 

I was prompted to write this journal entry for two reasons: 1) it's something I really struggled with as a lawyer as I'll explain below and 2) there are some famous women that people are idolizing these days and it just seems so misplaced to me. Often, I feel people "worship" other people just because everyone else is doing it. Not because they've actually stopped to think whether this woman is a solid role model for their own goals and is truly representative of their values. So, I guess you can say that I see this problem playing out on a macro level (with famous women) and on a micro level (with the women we work with in our own career on a daily basis).  

We've all heard the phrase, "If you don't want the job your boss has, it's time to move on", right? The idea is that if you don't like what your boss is doing, you should probably reevaluate whether you are on the right career path. Makes a lot of sense. But there's something missing here. Everyone focuses on the actual tasks and responsibilities, and no one ever talks about the kind of person your boss is - whether he or she has a good life outside of work, whether he or she is truly happy, whether he or she seems at peace with life, whether he or she is healthy and thriving, etc. 

Let me illustrate this with my own experience as a lawyer. There came a time in my legal career - and it was quite early on - where I couldn't help but think to myself, "These people are miserable. I don't want what they have. I don't aspire to be them. I don't even like them." I've always been an observer and this was such an obvious, glaring, punch-you-in-the-face kind of observation. But it seemed that a lot of my peers didn't even notice this, let alone care about it. It really disturbed me. If you've worked at a law firm before, you know. A lot of the partners (the highest level you can achieve at a law firm) were still working until the wee hours of the morning, a lot of them were divorced, all of them were stressed, most rarely went to the gym and often ate unhealthy meals because they were always working late. They seemed to never have time for their kids for the same reason. For example, I worked at a very large law firm in NYC before I went to law school and I worked under a few female attorneys. They had babies and their nannies would literally bring the babies to the office around dinnertime to say goodnight, while the female attorneys stayed at the office until 8, 9, 10 o'clock at night or even later. I thought to myself, "Why did you even have a child if you never even see her?" It bothered me so much. Here's another harsh reality I observed early on - some attorneys I worked with did drugs. I hate to break it to you, but this stuff goes on at high levels. I'll tell you a little story that happened during my first or second year as an attorney. My office was next to the "visiting attorney's" office - you know, if a lawyer from another office came to work with us for the day, he or she would use this office. There was a partner from our NYC office that would frequently come and use this office. He was always sniffing and snorting - kind of like he had a bad, bad case of allergies. Well, one such day, one of my co-workers was in my office with me and we heard the partner making all these noises. I said, "Geez, that guy seriously needs to go to an allergist or something." And my co-worker said, "Stacy. Are you serious? That guy doesn't have allergies. He does cocaine." That was the first time I really had to acknowledge what kind of profession I was working in. Just a year or two before that, I was in a position where I observed attorneys snorting cocaine at a party. It's a big problem in the legal profession, in addition to alcohol abuse. The number of times I was pressured into drinking at a work event is too many to count. This is reality, guys. I've seen it and experienced it. Let me share another harsh reality - some women sleep their way to the top. It happens. More than it should. I can think of two women in particular at the law firms I've worked at who achieved partner level this way. So, needless to say, you can see how I was always questioning the "leaders" and "role models" I was supposed to aspire to be in the legal profession.

My point here is to illustrate for you something you really need to consider - are your role models and the "leaders" in your life actually exhibiting the characteristics of a great leader and a great person? It's okay to answer with a big fat "NO" even if everyone around you seems to admire them. There are a lot of good apples out there, but there are a lot of bad apples out there too. The fact of the matter is, we become what we aspire to, and if you aren't consciously choosing great role models, you might end up like the people you are blindly surrounding yourself with.

Similarly, have YOU decided what you want for your own life, both in and out of the office? Or are you blindly following the path your career sets before you, without giving it any thought? I think this gets a lot of people into a lot of trouble. You work and work and work, get to the role you've been desiring (such as partner at a law firm) and find yourself miserable. It happened to me. At the age of 34, I got what I felt was my "dream job" and I was miserable. Why? Because I spent much of my time working towards a job title, and neglected other areas of my life as a result. At the time, I defined "success" very narrowly to basically include my job title, salary, and concrete work achievements. When I got to the "top" I felt empty. This is also probably because I ignored the signs (i.e. the things I described above) along the way. As early as my first year out of law school, I questioned whether I wanted the life that my superiors had, yet I ignored that. It's my own fault that I got so deep into a profession I should've left a lot sooner. Hindsight is 20/20 I guess! Today, I define "success" to include my health and wellness, my peace of mind, my relationships, how much time I'm able to spend doing things I enjoy, etc. It's a very different ballgame. 

So, I caution you today to choose your role models wisely and consciously. Don't blindly follow. Have the courage to be honest with yourself - to admit to yourself that maybe you don't want the type of life your superiors have created. Awareness is half the battle! Once you are aware, you can choose differently. Surround yourself with people who are doing what you want to do, who are living the way you want to live, who seem genuinely happy and at peace, who are healthy and radiating good vibes, who got to where they are today because they deserved it and worked for it. Today, it's easier than ever to find like-minded people -- with social media, there are so many people available to you to learn from. Sure, it's not as good as having a real life role model in your office, but it's the next best thing! 

xoxo,

Stacy 

 

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Selling Wholesale: What It Means

Selling Wholesale: What It Means

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 selling wholesale. If you'd like to start a business selling a product someday, wholesale sales will be something you'll need to consider. What is wholesale? It's when you sell your product to stores instead of directly to customers, and then those stores sell your product to their customers.

When you plan to start a business selling products (instead of services), one way to get your product into the hands of customers is to sell directly to them. You can do this by setting up a storefront in your town, setting up a website and driving customers to your site through advertisements on social media, or participating in local fairs and shows where you can rent a table and sell your products to the attendees.

Another way to get your product into the hands of customers is to sell to stores that already have a customer base. These stores then sell your product to their customers. If you do this, both you and the store need to get a cut of the profit. Therefore, wholesale is less profitable than direct sales. And you'll, therefore, need to be in a lot of stores in order to realize the same profit that you might ordinarily realize through selling directly to customers.

When you sell to a store, they'll usually buy your product outright and then display it on their shelves. The store is going to expect a significant discount so that there's room for them to make a profit. The price they pay is usually called the "wholesale price." The standard discount varies from industry to industry but in fashion and accessories, stores usually want a 50% discount. Yep, that's right, it's very high. Let's look at an example:

A company based in Maryland called Sweet Fashion sells sweaters for $50. Sweet Fashion wants to have their sweaters in shops around the U.S. so they attend a trade show (which is a fair or event connecting sellers, like Sweet Fashion, and stores that might want to carry Sweet Fashion's products). At the trade show, Sweet Fashion meets the owner of a shop in Vermont who wants to carry their sweaters. This Vermont store places an order with Sweet Fashion for 10 sweaters at the wholesale price of $25 each. This means that the store in Vermont will receive 10 sweaters from Sweet Fashion and sell them in their Vermont shop for $50, keeping a profit of $25. 

What about Sweet Fashion, what's their profit? Well, they must ensure that they've already built a profit into the $25 wholesale price they're giving to the Vermont shop. So here's what you've got:

The retail price: the price the customer will pay, here $50

The wholesale price: the price the Vermont shop will pay, here $25

Cost (sometimes you'll hear someone say they're selling "at cost"): what it costs Sweet Fashion to make the sweater, including no profit (let's assume here it costs them $15 to make the sweater)

So, selling wholesale means that Sweet Fashion will make $25 minus $15 or $10 on each sweater it sells to the Vermont shop. Do you see what a huge difference in margin you've got selling to stores versus selling to customers? When Sweet Fashion sells directly to customers on their website, they make $50 minus $15 or $35 per sweater. When Sweet Fashion sells its sweaters wholesale, they only make $10 per sweater.

So why would anyone sell wholesale? Well, the answer is getting less clear as the years go on. With the introduction of social media and, more importantly, social media advertising, it is not necessary anymore to sell wholesale in order to get exposure to people around the country. Think about it - 30 years ago, how would a customer in Vermont find out about Sweet Fashion's sweaters in Maryland? There was no social media. Sweet Fashion would have to get their sweaters into a shop in Vermont. That's no longer the case. Furthermore, in-person shopping is growing less and less popular over time so having products in shops is also becoming less and less profitable. Nonetheless, some people still decide to sell wholesale in order to grow their business and get their products in the hands of customers all over the country.

Another reason you might sell wholesale is volume. When you sell wholesale, the shops that buy from you usually have to meet some sort of minimum. For example, the shop in Vermont needed to buy at least 8 sweaters minimum from Sweet Fashion in order to get the 50% wholesale discount. They decided to buy 10 sweaters, so they met the minimum. When is volume important? It's most important when your product is low in price. For example, if you sell a specialty peanut butter for $8 and it costs you $2 to make it, even if you sell 25 jars of peanut butter in one day on your website, you're still only making $6 multiplied by 25 or $150. That's not a huge amount of money, but it takes a lot of work to find 25 different customers in one day, especially when you're a new business. Contrast this with someone who makes leather bags by hand and sells them for $300. Let's say it costs him $150 to make the leather bags, so his margin is $150 per bag. Unlike the peanut butter seller who needed to find 25 people to buy from him to make $150, the leather bag seller only needs to find 1 person to buy from him to make $150. It's a lot easier to find 1 customer than 25 each day. Therefore, wholesale is often very wise in situations where your product is low in price.

A caution on wholesale: you have to get your product into a LOT of stores to make a LOT of profit through wholesale sales. And, as you might imagine, it can take a lot of wooing to get stores to sell your products. It's a lot different than making a direct sale to a customer. The owners of these stores can often be high-maintenance and require a lot of your time. You also have to spend time making wholesale catalogs, line sheets, order forms, etc. Here's the other issue: just because a store orders from you once doesn't mean they'll order from you again, or even in any consistent manner. In other words, it's not very predictable and consistent so you need to have your products in a LOT of stores to ensure a steady flow of income from wholesale sales.

I'll end on a personal note - I experimented with wholesale sales in my own business for about 3 years before I decided it wasn't for me. I attended a big trade show in NYC (which cost way too much money and didn't pay off) back in 2017 and it opened my eyes to a lot of the things I shared with you above. To me, wholesale requires way more work and comes with way less reward. I didn't enjoy dealing with shop owners - frankly, I found some of them to be annoying, entitled, and even degrading in their communications with me. I enjoy dealing with actual customers - the women, brides, and bridesmaids who wear my jewelry - far more. Some of them have even turned into Instagram friends! Here's another thing - by not having my jewelry in a bunch of stores around the country, I'm keeping my jewelry "special." Does that make sense? You can't get it anywhere and everywhere. I never want to be like Kendra Scott for example, where my jewelry is sold in hundreds of stores around the world. I always want to keep it "small batch" sort of speak and I always want to keep it feeling unique, special, and handcrafted. Every business owner has to make the decision that's right for them, but for me, I have decided to keep my business a direct-to-consumer business.

P.S. - If you enjoy my weekly journal, I encourage you to check out my IGTV series on Instagram! Each week, I post a short video elaborating on my journal entry. You can find me on Instagram @graceandhudson.

xoxo,

Stacy

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One Simple "Key" That'll Help You Break Out Of Your Traditional Office Job

One Simple

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 a very simple "key" to breaking out of your traditional job and pursuing your own business. It's so simple but it's a blind spot for a lot of people. It was for me! But once I realized it, I'm not going to lie, it kind of rocked my world in more ways than one. It touched not only my career, but my relationships, my finances, and my health and wellness.

What's one of the simple keys to success? It's taking responsibility. So many people want to "live the dream" and be their own boss and live a beautiful life, but they are unwilling to spend even 30 minutes on the weekend working on their dream. It blows my mind! You see how it's so simple yet such an issue for people? I experienced it myself! I previously worked as a lawyer and my hours were really long and included weekends. The last thing I wanted to do was devote 30 minutes each day, or even once per week, working on my dream. Looking back, I see how I was my own worst enemy at times. I expected the world for myself, yet I was unwilling to do much to get there, and then I sat there in misery feeling trapped at my lawyer job. Umm...hello! This is not rocket science, yet I failed to see my situation through that very simple lens. I complained and whined, feeling like a victim, trapped in a career I hated, yet I wasn't willing to take any responsibility to get myself out of it.

I see this vicious circle play out over and over again. People want things but aren't willing to work for them. And then they complain that they don't have them. Right? I bet there's at least one area of your life where - if you got honest with yourself - you'll admit this is true. It's like the girl who downs a bottle of wine at night and then wonder why she feels awful during her workout the next morning. Or the woman who eats Chik-fil-A for lunch five days a week and complains that she wants to lose weight. Or the guy who drinks 8 beers at night and then wonders why he can't get up for work the next day. Or the guy who wants to live life on his own terms and wonders why all of his relationships fail. 

So what's the key to moving beyond this? It's so simple. Once you recognize it, the answer hits you in the face. Take the examples above: the girl at the workout class limits herself to one or two glasses of wine the night before her workout, the woman who wants to lose weight starts eating the Chik-fil-A salad for lunch instead of the greasy sandwich and fries, the guy who can't get up for work limits himself to 2 or 3 beers, and the guy who can't hold a relationship starts taking into account his partner's perspective and learns how to compromise on decisions. Awareness is half the battle. No, it's MORE than half the battle.

The rest of the battle is snapping yourself out of the vicious mental loop. Back when I was a lawyer, I'd catch myself in this vicious circle, feeling sorry for myself, and then I'd say, "Hey, hold on a minute." I'd recognize the downward spiral and I'd call myself out on it. I'd recognize that I can do something about this and affirm that I'm willing to do something about this. I'd also say to myself, "I have no permission to whine right now if I'm not willing to do anything about this." Take responsibility! Be the adult you are and start recognizing that your actions (or lack of action) have a consequence. Recognize that you are in control: you can do something about it or you can whine, the choice is yours. Stop giving up your power so easily to this vicious mental loop that doesn't even make logical sense. Empower yourself. It really isn't as hard as it seems.

What's one area of your life where you're falling for this trap? Don't beat yourself for it! Just become aware of it, so you can change it the next time it happens. Cheers to recognizing where we're holding ourselves back!

xoxo,

Stacy

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The Hardest Thing You'll Encounter On Your Path To Entrepreneurship

The Hardest Thing You'll Encounter On Your Path To Entrepreneurship

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's journal entry is for you if you're longing to quit the traditional path you're on and pursue the calling of your heart. I want to give you my honest, personal opinion on the hardest thing you'll encounter, the biggest hurdle you'll need to clear, as you try to embark on this awesome, fulfilling journey. 

First, let's start by defining what I mean by "traditional path." It varies to some degree for everyone, but I like to refer to the traditional path as the "life checklist" path. People on this path generally have accomplished the following or are somewhere in the middle of accomplishing the following: graduated high school and tried to get into the best college, then the best grad school, then the best workplace, and then they found someone to marry, got a dog, bought a house, had 2.5 kids, got promoted and - BOOM - finished the checklist only to find that happiness was not waiting for them there. I noticed this at my first job when I was 22. At the time, I was working in NYC at a law firm as a legal assistant (before I went to law school) and I noticed that all of the attorneys there went to like Harvard or Yale, got a lawyer job at one of the best law firms, got married, bought a beautiful home or condo in NYC, had a child or two, bought a Lexus, got promoted to "partner" level, went on extravagant vacations, yet they seemed miserable day-to-day. "What's that all about?" I wondered. These people - on the outside - had all the hallmarks of a "successful" life yet they often didn't have much happiness, peace, joy, or light in their eyes. Why is that? I think it's because people on this path put too much energy and effort into acquiring all of these things and accomplishments under the misguided perception that happiness, peace, and joy would be waiting for them at the end of the journey. And in the meantime, they've neglected their own growth, self-development and the real inner work that leads to maturity and authentic peace and happiness.

If you identify as a person on the traditional path, here's the biggest hurdle you're going to encounter when you try to quit or change careers and follow the calling of your heart: challenging the "life checklist" mentality and enduring the judgment of friends and family who are firmly rooted in this mentality. In my opinion, nothing is more difficult. The nuts and bolts of starting a business are relatively easy compared to constantly having to battle this idea that you're somehow wrong for wanting to follow your heart and create a good life for yourself that has meaning, depth, and joy. In addition, many times these judgments will come from friends, co-workers, and family members and if they don't believe in you, how are you supposed to believe in you? It can throw you for a loop.

I can still remember all the judgments I endured when I quit my lawyer job. I quit that profession not once but twice, so believe me when I tell you I remember the criticism, judgments, snide remarks, and insulting comments. The comments that still stand out are these:

  • You really think you can make enough money selling jewelry?
  • How are you going to pay for your living expenses?
  • You're just going to waste your law degree like that?
  • Have you ever thought about trying a different field of law instead? (Oh my gosh, this was my pet peeve. You really think I haven't thoroughly examined this idea!?)
  • What business experience do you have to run your own business? (Said in a very derogatory tone)
  • So, like, when are you going to go back to being a lawyer? (Again, said in a very derogatory tone)

Here's the deal. At the end of the day, these comments say more about the person making them than they do about you. They're coming from people who have bought the life checklist mentality hook, line, and sinker. These people get really uncomfortable when they see someone they know challenging that mentality. You know why? Because they have to face the possibility that maybe there is another way. That maybe they have chosen incorrectly. And, boy oh boy, these types of people don't like to be wrong about the way they've approached things. Trust me, I've met lots and lots of them in the legal profession.

The easiest way to deflect these negative comments and go on about your day is to remember this: the people throwing these negative comments your way are firmly rooted in a perspective that you don't agree with anymore. You are not the same. They think "small" and you do not. Meaning, they think everyone should be on the straight and narrow "life checklist" path and anyone who veers outside of that is crazy, naive, weird, strange, etc. Don't let them deter you. Don't let them steer you off your path. You'll be the one living the good life in a few years, while they stay trapped in a life checklist mentality. P.S. - it's great fun for me to talk to the people who previously judged me! Some of them can hardly believe that I never went back to law. Most of them are supportive, but I can tell it kills some of them to say nice things to me now. You know why? Because I'm hitting that little nerve inside of them that wonders whether their own life can be different. Some people are just not ready, and might never be ready, to really put in the mental work to pursue a life they love.

But you can! You can pursue a life you love. And you'll grow so much along the way. Whether your business ultimately takes off or closes down, you'll move through the rest of your life with a grace and an ability to endure any type of judgment or criticism. 

xoxo, 

Stacy

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Feeling Like Your Dreams Will Never, Ever Become A Reality? Here's How To Pull Yourself Out Of That Hole

Feeling Like Your Dreams Will Never, Ever Become A Reality? Here's How To Pull Yourself Out Of That Hole

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's journal entry is a follow up to the two that came before it. We already tackled the big, complicated question, "How much money do I need to quit my job and start my own business?" And then we explored the feelings underneath the moans and groans that followed my answer to that question. This week, I want to talk about how you pull yourself out of that place - you know, the place where you feel stuck and helpless and like your dreams will never, ever become a reality. It is possible, and the power rests in you. Shockingly, it can often be quite easy to pull yourself out of that place of helplessness. You just need to have the discipline and resolve to consistently do it. So here it goes...

You have GOT to change the way you think and speak about your circumstances. There is power in your words. There is even greater power in your thoughts. I've talked about this before in prior journal entires so I won't repeat myself here. But let's talk about the ways in which you can turn around your victim-oriented thinking. Remember that from last week? Victim mentality is when you're the victim of your outside circumstances. It goes something like this: "I'll never be able to start my own business because I will never have enough money" or "I already work 80 hours per week! I don't have time to work on my own business so I am stuck at this job forever it looks like" or "Even if I cut my expenses, I still wouldn't have enough money to start my own business so it looks like that option's off the table." We sometimes secretly like to get stuck in victim mentality because it "protects" us. We don't need to get out there and do anything or make any changes. We don't need to take any risks, and we don't need to take any responsibility. We can just blame our circumstances for the reason we're not where we want to be. It's safe and comfortable in that zone.

But, no sir! Not under my watch. While victim mentality might feel comfortable, it actually requires you to give up your personal power. How do you get that power back? You start changing the way you think and speak about your circumstances. You stop yourself when you start to say or think a self-defeating thought like the ones I've already mentioned. And, instead, you start saying things like this:

  • If I make a budget, I know I can save up enough money to start my own business. It might take me two years to save that money, but I know it'll be worth it. Plus two years goes so fast! And in the grand scheme of things, two years is nothing.
  • I work 80 hours per week and, you know what, that's no longer acceptable to me. Something's gotta change and I know I have to be the one to change it. Since this job/career is not a good fit for me, I'm going to find a job with better hours so that I'll have time during the evenings and weekends to work on my dream to start a business. 
  • I know if I cut my expenses back, I'll be able to save up money that can go towards my business. It might not be enough, so what else can I do? Well, I can pitch the business idea to my family and see if they might donate some money to me. I can promise them a return on their investment. It might not be a huge percentage return, but I have a feeling my uncle would love to support me in this endeavor. This weekend I'll also schedule some time for me to brainstorm other ways to fund my business, such as a small business loan for women.
  • Starting my own business is going to feel challenging at times, but boy I know it's going to pay off! I am going to learn so much and meet so many new people.
  • I'm not sure where to start, but you know what? I've tackled big projects at work and in school before. I'll just put everything I think I need to do down on paper. Then I'll take those tasks and try to divide them into smaller parts. And then I'll pick a small task that feels really doable to me today.

On and on the list can go...

It's actually kind of fun to take negative thoughts and flip them around. It becomes sort of like a game.

Just watch and see how quickly you can flip your victim mentality around starting your own business. Be consistent and you can see results in a matter of days. You'll start feeling better, meaning you'll start feeling more empowered to accomplish your goals. You'll start to tackle the small tasks that'll get those dreams of yours on the path of progressing forward. Don't underestimate the power of all that good energy and all that good motivation! Of course, it'll be up to you to use it, but it'll be yours for the taking.

xoxo,

Stacy

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The Likely Reason You Feel Stuck

The Likely Reason You Feel Stuck

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's journal entry is a follow up to last week's entry where I talked about the question, "How much money do I need to quit my job and start my own business?" If you grumbled and moaned, sighed and cringed at my answer to that question, this week's journal entry is a must read. I want to tell you that you're not alone in your feelings. So many people want to start their own business but they get hung up on the money thing and never even try. I'd venture a guess that at least 90% of the people who want to start a business but don't cite money as the reason. They get blocked and overwhelmed and they stay stuck in their present circumstances, feeling like their dreams will always feel out of reach and that it's almost silly to think they could live a better life. What's behind all of these emotions? They are so incredibly common, yet not too many people write about them. I want to warn you ahead of time that I'm going to get really blunt and really honest in this week's entry. But I'll also be speaking from a place of love because I want to see you bust through these emotions. I've been there. I've experienced it, worked through it, and come out on the other side, and you can too. 

What emotions come to the surface when you stop and think about starting your own business but feel blocked because of money? I bet there's some - ok, a lot - of overwhelm. And I bet that overwhelm sort of leads to this "throw your hands up in the air and throw the towel in" kind of feeling. Phrases like "this is never going to happen" and "this is silly to even think about" and "I'm never going to be able to fund this business idea and make this happen" and "this is impossible" probably come to mind, right? Maybe you also experience feelings like "I don't know what I'm doing" and "I don't know anything about business" and "who am I to try and start my own business?"

What's at the root of these emotions? If you dig and dig all the way to the root, I bet you'll find helplessness and a sense that things are out of your control. These feelings are, most likely, evidence of a victim mentality. What is victim mentality? It's this sense that your life, your career, your destiny is based on external factors rather than your own effort and desires. It's this sense that things are outside of your control and that you are helpless to change them. Sometimes it might involve blaming another person or circumstance for your hopelessness, sometimes not.

I had a BIG case of victim mentality back in the day (notice I said "I had a case of victim mentality" and not "I was a victim" - don't own that crap! It's not you, it's just a mindset that can be changed). I didn't like my career, I didn't like my life circumstances, one bad thing after another seemed to be happening, and I felt so helpless. I felt unable to pull myself out of my current situation and make changes. Everything felt like it was happening outside myself and I was the poor victim of it. I even felt invisible at times. Some people blame another person when they feel stuck in this position - like an ex-boyfriend or parent - but to be honest, I blamed God (which eventually led to a strengthening of my faith and belief in God but that's a story for another day). I was in a pretty dark place, in full-on victim mode.

Long story short, I transformed beyond this victim mentality after I lost my father to cancer in 2014 and found an amazing therapist. I initially booked appointments with her to work through my grief in a healthy manner, but I ended up staying on to work through my victim mentality. Through this work, I shifted from an external to an internal focus, meaning that instead of believing my life was subject to forces outside my control, I started to believe that I had full control. It's a total change of perspective, a totally different way of looking at the world. Here's a great description of the difference between these two perspectives:

"Victim mentality is a psychological term that refers to someone with an external locus of control. They do not believe that they are in control of their successes or failures, and often feel helpless or without blame. They are driven by pessimism, fear and anger. In extreme cases, they may even believe others are deliberately out to hurt them. At the other end of the spectrum, someone with an internal locus of control believes that they control their own destiny and will attribute their success and failures to their own actions."

(Credit: Jody Michael Associates, "Victim Mentality Stands In The Way of Accountability". Click here to read the entire article)  

 Looking back, I can honestly say that one of the reasons I stayed in a job that I hated for so long (11 years!) was because I was firmly stuck in a victim mentality. And what happens when you have that kind of mindset? Your life hands you more and more experiences to help you prove you are indeed a victim! I didn't know this at the time of course, which is why I wanted to write about it here.

Victim mentality is a deep-seated issue and maybe, like me, you'll need a therapist to help you work through it. But I can tell you this - if it's not the number one reason holding you back from pursuing your own business, it's likely in the top ten. Victim mentality is absolutely rampant in our culture. Most of us were raised on it. Most of us had parents that consoled us by saying something like, "It's not your fault. It's [insert name's] fault that [insert event] happened."  Victim mentality is an easy way to disclaim responsibility for just about anything. It's a lot easier to say "they did it to me" than to find ways to accept your situation and begin to turn it around. That takes work, and - let's be honest here - most of us feel more comfortable complaining about why something can't happen (like owning your own business) than rolling up our sleeves and getting down to business. I wish I remember the name of the book or article I read this in, but author Marianne Williamson once made the bold, blunt statement that many of us don't want to heal the wounds and hurts that are holding us down and keeping us back because, once we heal them, we can't rely on that excuse anymore. As an example, if you can no longer blame the issues you have with your mom or dad for your failure to get into grad school, to write that book, or to start that company, who will you blame? You will have no one to blame but yourself. It's so much easier to be a victim and blame your perceived shortcomings on someone else. 

This naturally brings me to my next point. When you do work on victim mentality issues, you're almost definitely going to hit on self-worth and self-confidence issues. They are all related. I experienced this as well and worked a lot on these concepts. It's tough. But geesh, when this trio of self-empowerment (the opposite of victim mentality), self-worth, and self-confidence come into alignment, you will be unstoppable. When this happens, I think it's the true passage from childhood to adulthood. That's when true maturity happens. Sadly, some people never make this mental shift into adulthood - they never are able to stand in their own power and favor the childish behavior of blaming others instead.

If you want to explore victim mentality more, I suggest starting simple. Google it and read some of the articles written by psychologists. Then perhaps get out your journal and honestly examine the ways in which you have experienced victim mentality. If you meditate, perhaps do a 20-minute meditation on the question "How am I currently clinging to victim mentality in my life?" If you hit on some valuable things, you might want to get the help of a therapist. Or, if getting a therapist seems overwhelming or unaccessible right now, perhaps you can just start reading some books on the topic and see where that takes you.

To me, the opposite of victimhood is self-empowerment. That's when you truly understand that while you might not be in control of external forces, you are ALWAYS in control of how you react and respond to them which - at the end of the day - is all you need to feel empowered in any circumstance. This is not easy work. It takes a lot out of you and it takes some time. But at the end of the day, the concept is pretty simple - it's simply a shift in how you frame the world around you. It's simply a shift in how you frame the events and things that happen to you. And I'll tell you what - while there might be a ton of bright people practicing as lawyers (like I once did) or working in corporate America, there are a ton of people stuck in victim mentality there, too. Intelligence absolutely does not equate to mental maturity. Once you are aware of it, you'll see it everywhere. AND you'll be able to choose differently. And those blocks of overwhelm? You'll begin to see how you can take those challenges on. One by one. And, what's more, you'll begin to see how you never needed to stay trapped. 

I hope you feel empowered today. 

xoxo,

Stacy

 

 

 

 

 

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