The Next Chapter: Week 12

Sunday, March 29, 2009


"If one does not know to which port one is sailing, no wind is favorable."

-Seneca


It's hard to believe that The Next Chapter blogging book club hosted by Jamie Ridler has come to a close for this book.

It's been 12 weeks, each week focusing on a different secret from the book The 12 Secrets of Highly Creative Women by Gail McMeekin.

In these 12 weeks, I have learned a great deal about myself and have been able to express my feelings on all aspects of my own creativity. Chapter 12 is no different.

In this chapter, we have been discussing how to set our creative goals. Prior to this book club experience, I thought I had my goals all ironed out. I was wrong.


MY ORIGINAL GOALS WEREN'T MY TRUE GOALS.

Ever since I started KZM Facial Care Boutique, my goal was to keep up a rapid rate of growth, eventually get noticed by beauty editors at magazines, open up a shop someday, begin selling my items wholesale to several large boutiques, keep upgrading packaging as business grew, open a brick and mortar boutique, and eventually wind up on QVC with one of my skin care sets as a Today's Special Value.

Lofty goals--all of which I truly felt (feel) that with continued hard work would eventually be met.

The thing is I didn't realize what I wanted for myself in the long term, at least not in my heart.

The traditional route in this business it to keep growing bigger. Start a boutique. Open more of them. Hire a large staff. Have your products in specialty shops. Have constant meetings pitching your line to buyers in department stores. Attend trade shows. Spend your life, basically, trying to be the next big thing.

This book club has been a wonderful thing for me. About halfway into this exercise is when I was forced to close up shop for a few weeks to get my health issues under control. Between the book and the change of place, I feel as though I was given this huge wake up call in my life.

BEFORE YOU TRY TO REACH YOUR GOALS, YOU NEED TO TAKE STOCK...IS IT REALLY YOUR GOAL?

I thought I had all the answers. This is my life, these have continued to be my goals, or so I thought. I think that back in the beginning I set my goals (they're even on paper) based on what should be my goal as a small business. 

I have said it before and I will say it again--I am incredibly lucky. I was spotted by an associate editor from a Martha Stewart magazine last May while she was browsing Etsy for goat's milk skin care products. Her love of my facial cream and testing out my other items was truly a big break for my business because once the mention was done in October, my business has grown so quickly that I can take the bull my the horns and plan these expansions...it's what I want, right?

Wrong! A big fat wrong! Once upon a time I swore that I would never stop writing hand written thank you notes in each customer's order. I'd personally answer every email within a couple hours (unless I was asleep), and I'd always maintain the type of relationship with each customer so that each and every beautiful lady (and occasional man) would always feel how much I truly care about her skin and her order.

The Christmas ordering season is when I first noticed that I was just adding a beautiful pre-printed paisley card saying "Thank you from Karley." I know that this still is more personal than if you were to order from a major company online. The Estee Lauder site, for example, doesn't hand write a note and sign it "The Lauder Family." I almost felt a disconnection--I was frantically packing so many orders at all hours of the night and at 5am before anyone was awake in the house that it was becoming mechanical and I wasn't able to give it my all in terms of writing notes by hand and making sure that each customer knew I, alone, was concerned about her order and thanking her with my own personal note.

Much like my time off the past few weeks forced me to re-evaluate my time management to handle my order volume efficiently, this book has forced me to re-evaluate my own goals.

It is OK to change them. As people grow and learn and live, goals can be changed.

One thing that has never changed is that I want to be a stay at home mom to my children. How on earth would I be able to manage that if I were traveling, pitching my products all over the place, owning a shop...I would be strapped to that boutique from early morning until late at night every single day. That might be the right thing to do, perhaps is the expected thing to do, with a business, but I want to be able to walk my Nick to kindergarten, take Benjamin for our morning "date" at 9:30 Monday through Friday, play fetch with the dog on any given afternoon. My goal for my own life is that my boys are happy and healthy children who know their mom loves them and is always there for them.

I am so fortunate I've been able to stay home with them from the get go.

I also am fortunate that I have a successful, consistently growing business AND can answer customer's emails while watching the boys enjoy their peanut butter and Nutella on 9 grain bread with a side of sliced bananas for lunch. This is what I want. I want them to know that, yes, Mommy has a business that keeps her busy sometimes, but that she will always be there and that they are always first.

I want to be able to chat with my customers, many of whom I have come to know on a more personal level--to be able to talk with them as though I am standing right next to them in the level of service I always want to provide. I want to get back to writing handwritten notes to every single woman and man ordering from me. 

My business goal is simple: to provide outstanding products at an affordable price, to make my customers feel pampered and appreciated. If I can do that each day, I will be meeting my goals. It's not about getting so caught up in the next big leap that you forget your core goal. It's about a personal experience for me. I think that is why I am so happy already on 1000 Markets.  The other shop owners are so neighborly--it is almost like me talking over the fence with my friend next door. I have a shop I can manage with ease and I just feel at home.

My dad once told me how after all the places he had been to for his newspaper career, from NY to USA Today in Washington to Missouri, to California, Pennsylvania, Lousiana, Georgia, then on a sabatical to teach in Wisconsin, to Fargo--he once told me Fargo was home to him professionally after all of the places he had been. He loved Fargo-not for the lovely, balmy winters (that's why he went to Naples)--but because of the sense of community he felt, the sense of getting to know his colleagues and the reporters personally. 

I think you get to a point in your life when you just know if your goal is actually your true goal that you want to accomplish, or if your goal is a pseudogoal--a goal you set for yourself because you think it is expected. There is a difference. 

You can accomplish many things in life. I have managed to accomplish a few of mine already, and for that I am proud. What I am most content with, however, is realizing that my goals on paper didn't necessarily reflect the ones in my heart. I've crossed a few things of my list...it's OK! What matters most is that you'll feel content and complete when those goals are reached.

On a light note, I had to eliminate that goal of being on QVC someday. I can't see them having me on there with my $12 facial cream--although with 4 easy payments, it'd only be $3 plus tax and shipping! My $12 cream would probably be marked up to $50 like everything else and then my original business mission would be lost.


In closing, I want to take a minute to thank Jamie Ridler for starting this group. I've met some really wonderful, thoughtful, and intelligent women through these 12 weeks. More than that, though, is that I learned a great deal about myself. Thank you!

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