Thursday, March 28, 2013

Its A Wonderful Life...

Coming Soon Sign Preparing for Opening Day-2003
I am a very very lucky person.

I am not someone who always wins nor have I always had things turn out well for me easily. On the contrary I am not afraid of hard work and think nothing of going where others are just a little too timid or tentative to go. I am one part saavy business person and one part crazy lunatic, I guess. Tell me I can't and I will work very hard to show you I can and I will. Walt Disney's quote comes to mind--"It’s kind of fun to do the impossible.” For me, that has been a big chunk of my working life, for good or for bad.

Ten years ago, I had the guts to follow a dream and open a business selling hand-crafted American works of art and offering art classes. With a ton of hard work, dedication, and with every bit of knowledge from prior careers (and then some!), I turned that dream into a reasonably successful business that has survived and thrived in a small suburban town for ten years.

Creative Genius, Opening Day-2003
While running that business, I made a contact three years ago which turned into me partnering up with that contact to form a photography business. Photography has been a passion of mine since I was very young and I was doing portrait work on my own, as was my now business partner before we teamed up to form True Story Photography. Call it luck, kismet, whatever, but the business partnership has been a successful one and has worked well for the both of us for the past three years.

It is really hard to be tied to a retail business and run a service-based business but I did so for three years before I decided it was time to make a decision. It felt like choosing a favorite child. I eventually made the decision to leave my first dream of running my own gallery and studio to focus full time on my photography in the past 2 months. It was a very difficult decision to make and took a lot of mulling over before I actually decided that I had made my final decision.

First holiday season-Dec, 2003
As excited as I am to be able to work full time on True Story Photography, there are always risks involved when you take a leap. Even when the leap is based on your own strengths and abilities, it is still an interesting thing to take the plunge and do something that offers you no guarantees. I have been there before and though it turned out well, it was not an overnight success nor a seamless journey. The best things we do in life really never are, are they? The thought of NOT moving forward and regretting it later is what moves me to always try. I have few regrets but for those I do have, I always wish I could go back and JUST DO IT. These are the things that go through my mind while other people look at spreadsheets and numbers and marketing plans. I know, from running a business these past ten years (and helping run other people's businesses for `5 years before that), that the best laid plans often fail us. I know that you can try to plan and map out every eventuality only to realize when the real deal is operating in front of you that things are not an exact science. I have learned that you may think you know everything you need to about what you want to do but that there are always kinks to work out. It isn't real until the first time there are struggles and there always will be at one point or another. And still, I continue on to the next risky journey. What can I say? Some of us just have to.

Creative Genius-2008

When I made the announcement about the upcoming store closing, I figured some people would have questions and things would move forward from there. I had no idea that so many people would come out of the woodwork to stop in to tell me how sad they were but to wish me luck on my next adventure. I never expected the outpouring of supportive comments on facebook within moments of posting the announcement. I didn't think that so many people would have so many kind things to say about what was basically something I always wanted to do. I created something from nothing (with lots of help from some key people in my life) and it touched lots of people in some way. To be able to touch people with something that meant so much to me is pretty incredible. I shared the outpouring of support and comments with my family and my sister made an interesting comment. She said it reminded her of the movie It's A Wonderful Life. When I thought about it, I remembered that key scene at the end of the movie where George Bailey finally gets to see, in real life, all the people who were on his side and who were there to stand behind him when he needed it. What an amazing feeling to realize that you aren't invisible and that people really see you and appreciate what you've created.

Creative Genius-2009 After Expansion
New Studio Addition-2009
I received multiple cards and messages from artists who thanked me for helping them get motivated to fully launch their art careers. It really amazed me that people took the time to write a comment online or send me a card just to say thank you for helping them move forward. It was truly overwhelming but in the best of ways. Sometimes you are so busy with your nose to the grindstone that you forget that good people are always pulling for you and you don't always get to say thank you because you are so busy. Well, I have picked my head up for the first time in a long time and I would like to say THANK YOU. Thank you to the people who have supported my venture for the past ten years, who talked about it, learned something from it, and made it a regular part of their lives. Thank you to the people who contributed in some way, however small, to making this dream a reality for me for a long time. I hope when you look at the gifts you have received from my humble little dream project that you remember how cool of a place that "project" was and that it's owner appreciated you and your support.

Creative Genius-December, 2012

Now, moving forward, I am excited to see what the future holds.

Like I said, I am a very very lucky person and a very very grateful one too. And it really is a wonderful life....