I’ll be turning fifty this year. When we got married nearly 30 years ago, John’s Gramma gave us her lime green and yellow floral sofa. After that, my Mom gave us her used, modern-ish rust sofa. Then Mom bought us a fantastic leather recliner sofa. And somewhere in-between, we had a brown floral (can you imagine!?) hide-a-bed-sofa.
But recently, we finally bought furniture that we WANTED, that we picked out on our own, and paid for ourselves. Call us late bloomers, but it was a wonderful event.
I thought we were getting living room furniture for our family, but it turns out, it’s just a bunch of comfy spots for our two cats. Do you see the black kitty curled up on the loveseat? Most of my time these days, is spent removing cat hair from all the seats, and pillows, so my friends don’t leave with their pants covered in fur.
Life can feel so undignified, especially when I’m trying to be. I love the magenta chairs. I organized the room, so
we I can see the tufted back (is that what you call it?) from the kitchen, and dining room. I’ve decided life is meant to be enjoyed, and often, enjoyment for me comes in the form of the “little things”. Like hobnails, and buttons, and velvet. Fake velvet, that is.
Little things, like knowing who you are, and what you want to do beyond your adult responsibilities.
Oh…not a little thing? I agree.
Up until recently, I’ve spent my entire life suffering from an identity crisis.
You see, I spent most of my school-age years trying to show up as college material. I didn’t really connect with any dreams beyond what I thought I was supposed to do. I remember in one of my many weepy college crises, telling my Dad I wanted to go to cosmetology school instead of graduating from the University of Washington. He didn’t see that in my future.
My dream was to become a junior high math teacher. I think I was taking third-quarter differential equations, geometry 444, and something else really scary my senior year of college. I couldn’t pass those classes, I didn’t even remotely comprehend what they were talking about. After four years, and 184 credits, I withdrew from my math classes and closed the door on getting my bachelor’s degree. My dream of becoming a teacher seemed off the table now, and I didn’t know what was next for me. I was newly married, and a college dropout with enough credits to graduate.
It was out of that “failure” that my entrepreneurial life (which I now LOVE!) was born.
In my crisis, I went to see a counselor. He asked me, “what do you like to do”?
I.had.no.idea. (I think I’m still struggling with that one because I like so.many.things!)
At the time, I loved our local nursery, and I had a surge of great joy when I visited. With that inspiration, I enrolled in a horticulture program at a nearby community college. Oh what fun I had, learning to identify all the nearby flora. I took a job as an interior plant technician, where I met a girl selling Mary Kay, and I joined. When she told me she bought the product at a discount, and sold it for a profit, all while working from home, with unlimited earning potential, I was captivated! I built my direct sales business for 10 years before deciding to move on. I developed invaluable skills that I’m happy I have to this day.
Still in search of myself, and as if I was going to find her through a profession, I decided to go to nail school, and become a manicurist so I could have a nail salon in my home. I’ve always loved the idea of working from home, and running my own business. I guess I get that from my Mom. I successfully made some extra income for our family, and actually worked late evenings after my toddlers were in bed. In 2003, there weren’t any online courses offering step-by-step instruction on how to start a nail salon at home, I instinctively figured it out myself .
In 2005, in addition to nails, I turned to making soy candles. I was reckless, and impulsive, and experimented a lot as the Internet started to take shape for little cottage industry people like me. My first Etsy shop opened in December 2005, and back then, no one had ever heard of it. Every time I said the word “Etsy”, people would say, “Betsy?”, like they had cotton in their ears.
In 2005, I had no idea that Etsy would change my life. It was essentially free until I sold something, and it allowed me to dream of other things I could make, and sell. I opened my own e-commerce website, and between that, Etsy and eBay, I felt like a real entrepreneur. I sold over 4,000 items on Etsy over ten years, developing several unique bath & body items, many lines of themed perfume, and a downloadable tutorial on DIY product labels, not to mention the soy candles.
In 2010, we decided to homeschool our children, and I started to dismiss my nail clients, and close my online stores.
But the urge to SELL, brand, market, and meet my goals never left me. I started to dream of blogging for profit, but I could never figure out what to write about, despite hours of brainstorming. I had the desire, but my conscience would not let me move forward.
Sadly, in 2014, I talked my poor family into another round of selling handmade lip balm, as I tried to resurrect a business to run together. I could talk selecting the right domain name, product photography, label design, and shipping costs all day, and night long! Why don’t these people like running a business like me!?!? But by 2015, I shut that door again.
I have spent WAY too much time surfing the Internet always in search of who-is-doing-what in the micro-entrepreneurial space. Who’s the latest work-from-home success story? How did Mrs. X make her first million? What bloggers are crushing it, and providing for their families?
In spring of 2017, my sister had the opportunity to show her art. She’s an inspired abstract painter, and I couldn’t wait to help her promote herself. She isn’t into all the marketing things, so she let me name her business, design her logo, create her branded headers and images, and design her business cards. During this process, I felt released to pursue blogging, and Elite Blog Academy fell in my lap. I’ve been working on my blog ever since, and it took me an entire year to figure out what I wanted to offer my audience. In fact, as I write this, I’m still not entirely sure about all the details, but it is taking shape as I press on.
So, why in the world did I bother writing this?
BECAUSE I BELIEVE YOUR WORK FROM HOME DREAMS ARE WORTH FIGURING OUT, no matter where you are on life’s path. I don’t even know you, and I BELIEVE YOU CAN DO IT! I bug my friends and family all the time about starting an online business, developing a brand and working from home like I did years ago before homeschooling. I’m wanting to do it again, so I’m activating my dream of starting a blog. I believe that SOMEHOW, in my process of being transparent about my own struggles to find my THING, that it will give you permission to seek out yours too.
I’m inspired by others who have stepped out, and stepped up. It’s really hard to get past the fears, and doubts, and I have so much respect for anyone who puts themselves out there.
My intention is to create content that will inspire, encourage, and help you in the practical areas of starting your own work-from-home endeavor and creating a visual brand identity. In my process of running my in-home nail salon, and selling my handmade goodies online, I always wanted a mentor, someone who would track with me, and listen to all my crazy ideas. I see myself offering a few mentoring spots each month to be that sounding board you’re looking for. As my young author friend, Matthew, says: “Encouraging people is Michelle’s thing, and she does it well”. I don’t offer legal advice, and I don’t do websites, though I might be able to point you to some good resources.
So welcome to my little online business-minded things here on MichelleGephart.com. Please subscribe to my blog so you can receive notification when a new post is published below:
Photo credit: Michelle Gephart