Last week, I posted about my decision to close my eco-clothing business, Mountains of the Moon, after 15 years. (You can read the full story here.) For a final farewell sale, my employee Kari and I decided to offer 75% off for two days. Sales had been so poor over there that even with the huge discount, we expected to get a dozen orders, or maybe two dozen at most. And because of that, we were completely unprepared logistically for the days that followed. I was also unprepared for how those days would affect me emotionally. Awfully dramatic sounding, isn't it? With all of the horrible, truly terrifying things going on in our world right now, this is, of course, absolutely nothing. But to me - on a personal level - it resulted in a big ol' life lesson. It may sound like little more than an especially crazy week at work, but the experience ended up being pretty profound.
Orders poured in within a few minutes of when the newsletter announcing our closing sale was sent. This alone would have been overwhelming for the two of us (in an awesome way, of course), but that was just the beginning. Our inventory system crashed because of the massive influx of orders, and we quickly realized that our website was still making sold out items available for purchase. Now we had to manually go in after every order and update inventory, email customers to let them know which items they ordered were unavailable, and manually issue refunds through our credit card processor and PayPal. And that is a very oversimplified explanation of what actually happened. We became increasingly more confused and overwhelmed with time, so I stopped and spent several hours typing up spreadsheets to get everything organized. This helped tremendously, but there was still no end in sight. I worked close to 20 hours the first day with zero breaks except to nurse Essley, and Kari worked nearly as long.
The second day of the sale, my internet went out for half of the day. Perfect timing, right? As Kari pulled and packed order after order, I had to use the tiny keypad on my cell phone to email customers, update the website and spreadsheet, etc. The scene was comical, really. I also watched days worth of Bubby and Bean work pile up and fall to the wayside as I focused everything on Mountains of the Moon. If Robbie hadn't been home to take care of Essley, I'm pretty sure I would have been in the midst of a full-on nervous breakdown by that point. I questioned my choice to offer such a huge discount, knowing that in the end, we'd be working this hard just to take a loss. By night, Kari and I had both reached a point where we were so fried we became useless, and had to stop. The days that followed the sale were long, and were spent tying up loose ends, packing, and shipping orders well into the night, until eventually, we caught up.
Last week was my busiest and most stressful work week of the year. Times ten. And in the middle of it all, I realized some pretty important stuff - stuff that I already knew because it's obvious, really, but that I'm not sure I fully believed until now. I do want to say that I was (am!) incredibly grateful for the outpouring of love that my clothing business received last week, from long-time customers and friends who had been with us since the beginning, and new customers as well. And I was, am, and will continue to be grateful for everything I experienced over the years because of that little company that I started right out of college. But here's the thing. I remember when Mountains of the Moon was that busy all the time - without a 75% off sale. And I can't believe I ever allowed myself to work 80 hour weeks like that. I worked my life away for many years you guys, and I didn't even realize how unhealthy it was. My income was better, yes. And maybe I could buy nicer things, or travel more, or whatever. But I don't know how I functioned. Last week really reminded me how grateful I am to have started the Bubby & Bean blog and art shop - and how much happier I am at a job that is still full time but doesn't consume me. Actually, grateful doesn't begin to describe it.
Career is important to me, and always has been. But my family and the ability to enjoy life have become infinitely more important. I was a complete stress case last week, to the point of tears on a couple of occasions. But this is a good thing. Because now I'm 100% sure that I made the right choice to move on. A tough economy and slowly decreasing consumer interest in eco-friendly goods are not positive things, no matter how you look at them. However - the way that they affected my business (and subsequently forced me to make the decision to close it after so long) is something that I now know ultimately led to my quality of life increasing tenfold. So yeah. Maybe everything does happen for a reason and all that stuff. All I know is that I've never appreciated where I am quite so much as the present. I love what I have... So I have everything I need.
Before I go, I'm going to make sure you know how grateful I am for you, as well. Because without you, there would be no Bubby & Bean, and maybe I'd still be caught up in those 80 hour weeks at my other company. So thank you. Thank you for buying art prints and holiday cards from my art shop, and for supporting the boutiques who carry my art and cards, and for reading this blog, and for allowing me to partner with brands on sponsored posts and offer sidebar ads so the blog can help support my family. Part of the reason I'm able to work without giving up my entire life these days is because of this, and therefore, because of you too.
And that concludes my deep, dramatic thoughts for today. If you got this far, you're a champ. We'll be back to the fun stuff tomorrow. Promise.
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FILED UNDER: random thoughts/life