You might not think it by looking at me, but I get giddy. And when that happens, it’s best that I am by myself because it’s a ridiculous reaction. When a thought about something I’m really happy about first comes into my mind (or an old school jam I haven’t heard in a while is on the radio), I get so overwhelmed with how good it is that I break out into a giant smile and I squeal. Yes, squeal. Picture a 6 year old on Christmas morning, but make them a few inches taller and wearing a Biggie shirt and red lipstick.
This giddy feeling hit me on the daily mid-winter of 2011 when I became a full-time business owner. I felt a freedom that I had never felt before and I was elated. But I was also terrified, because my entire income came from my business and I had to actively bring it in. I had always put my all into every job I ever had, but part of me knew I could have put in less effort and I still would have gotten a paycheck. That’s not the way I do–my genetic code won’t allow me to half-ass anything–but I think I would have had to really mess up or consistently do small, crappy things to get fired. I knew that when I opened my business, I would have to work hard to earn every penny someone paid me. That was a less scary thought when I had a regular source of income from a day job, as I did for my first two and a half years in business. But in winter of 2011, shit got real.
When I left you last, I jumped from my decision to open my own business to the fact that it took 2+ years to do it full time. That gap of time, although somewhat financially stable, was tough for me because I knew what I wanted to do full time but couldn’t do it yet. That’s a frustrating feeling for someone with an ambition addiction. I had opened my business without taking out loans, receiving seed money or grants and I as mentioned in Part 1, no sugar daddy (or sugar mama, unless you count my friend Julie who used to cook me delicious meals and let me use her washer and dryer because I couldn’t afford the laundromat). I had no savings because the “extra” income I made went towards college and Esthetics school loans and the credit card debt I wracked up as I built my business. I had no roommates because I don’t play well with others, so no one to split living costs with. I also had no business partner with whom I could divide responsibilities and startup costs. I was running my business nights and weekends when I was not at my day job, but I was making only a supplemental income from it. It would have been financially foolish to quit my day job and go full time with my business during the first 2.5 years. So I (impatiently, and with much bitching to my family and close friends) waited until the time was right.
In 2011, I started hiring Independent Contractor hair stylists and makeup artists because my company was growing too much to be a one woman show. This was a huge turning point for me. I actually didn’t start out intending to build a company. I wanted to work in film and do wedding makeup on the weekends (which I now realize is an absurd plan). I thought 5 or 6 years into it, I could bring on another makeup artist and maybe a hair stylist. I now have 11 rockstar artists and stylists and am hiring. The Weddings component of my business grew so quickly that it demanded too much of my time to be on a film set for 12+ hours a day. Without purposely intending to, I pulled away from building a career in film (something I only did on a small level) and went full force into running my company. Around 2013, I stopped feeling like a freelancer and starting feeling like a business owner (both are boss status in my book though, as I mentioned in Part 1).
When I got enough work that I could go full time in 2011, I was beyond excited to be out on my own. But it was a struggle to exist financially. I never defaulted on my bills or paid my rent two months late, but I lived what Oregon Trail would call a barebones lifestyle. I rarely went out to eat, never bought clothes, didn’t go on any trips (unless I had miles and a free place to stay) and freaked out when it came to Christmas gift buying time. There were times when money was so tight that I felt paralyzed. I remember once getting towards the end of a tube of toothpaste, looking at my bank account and thinking, Shit. If I had lived with someone or didn’t have even half of the debt I had, it would have been a completely different story. But I made choices that put me in that situation, so I dealt with it the best I could. Sometimes that meant getting in my bed and crying, but it mostly meant working harder to bring in more business. By 2014, I started pulling in the income I needed to make me feel like a real adult. Fast forward to current day, where I am completely debt-free and will be living in a warmer location for the winter because I can. And I can buy as many tubes of toothpaste as I want without even glancing at my bank account. Straight out ballin’. Although I struggled hard for a few years, I am now in the best financial position of my life. I’m no millionaire–that was never my goal–but I don’t have the financial stress that weighed heavily on me for so long. It’s an amazing feeling.
But yo, the workload! To this day, some people assume I have the day off if I don’t have a wedding or a shoot. WRONG. The majority of my time is spent running my company. Emails, contracts, schedules, invoices, advertising, accounting, managing my team–that’s me. From the smallest errand to the biggest decision, it’s all my responsibility. Out of printer ink? Staples run. Need a new logo designed? I have to find the right person, hire them, come up with ideas, look through proofs, approve and then pay for the work. A bridal trial with one of my hair stylists and makeup artists? I coordinate everything. That’s a location, date and time that works for all three parties. I now coordinate 100+ trials per wedding season. Plus the logistics of every wedding, photoshoot, corporate shoot and event we do. As the owner, I’m also responsible for coming up with the big ideas, which I’m not even going to hint at because I’ve got so many things in the infancy/prep work stage. I am growing a beauty empire here, my friends. If all of that is your version of taking a day off, then you’re a weirdo.
Luckily, my passion for makeup and my desire for the type of life I personally can only get through entrepreneurship keeps me going. I still love the transformative power of makeup. When someone looks in the mirror after I do their makeup and says “I love it!,” I have to keep my giddyness under control. And the lifestyle entrepreneurship has given me–control over my schedule, which allows me more time to see my family and friends and financial freedom, which makes everything a little bit easier–is something I wouldn’t change for the world.
When I started my company, I knew my freedom and business success would bring me the confidence I needed in life. Confidence was not something I had in my teens or most of my 20s, but my intuition told me my business would change that for me. And it did. I realize part of that could be just growing up, getting infinitely wiser by the day. But I believe the confidence and self awareness I have now comes from opening and successfully running a company. I have learned a lot about myself–both good and bad things–since opening AB Beauty.
I am a goal-oriented person. You know what tastes as good as a Three Olives Cherry Vodka, club soda and a splash of cran on a hot summer day? Accomplishment. I love reaching–nah, crushing–goals. I revel in it, I celebrate, then I move on to attack the next one. There is always a next one (or 50) and they are on my To Do list, waiting for the sweet sound of pen hitting paper, crossing a line through something I slayed. I’m guessing most successful entrepreneurs feel the same way. (And by “successful,” I mean an established business that grows each year. I don’t think you have to own a Fortune 500 Company to be considered successful.)
I didn’t start my company to be well-known or filthy rich. Those things don’t motivate me. What motivates me is efficiently running, constantly improving and growing a company. I strive to provide my team with as much work as they want and give my clients the kind of service that makes them hug me. My goal has been to create a career that I not only enjoy, but one that allows me to spend time with the people I love. I’m not the perfect business owner by any stretch, but I do my best and I’m happy with what I have. I am very thankful for my team, my clients, people who refer my company and my family and friends who have supported me. I recognize that I have something really good here and for that, I am immensely grateful.
Have a beautiful day 🙂