Goodbye 9-5, Hello Entrepreneurship
4 months into starting my apparel company, I decided I wanted to devote all of my time and energy into making sure it was a success. I know to some that may sound completely crazy, but here's how I looked at it: if I have to wake up everyday and work efficiently for a company, put all my time and energy into it, overtime, sleepless nights, etc. IT MAY AS WELL BE MY OWN! Don't get me wrong, there is absolutely nothing wrong with working a 9-5. HOWEVER, there are many desk jobs that many of us work to make ends meet that require a lot of sacrifices on our end that we will never reap the real benefits or rewards. There's probably a cap to how much money you can make or only so far you can go on that job, only up to a certain level of promotion. You may make good money, but you'll never make as much as the CEO even though you're the one working the day-to-day operations. Doesn't sound so hot now does it? In fact, entrepreneurship is becoming more attractive to millennials, or should I say "milleni-preneurs". During the baby boomer era, the average small business was launched between the ages of 40-50. Now the average is 20-35, although we have seen there are several children ages as young as 8 years old that have successfully launched their own small businesses! The time is now!
I wanted to create this blog to not only answer the Top 6 questions I'm asked, but also to encourage someone that is going back and forth about whether or not they should pursue their dreams, wondering how they'll do it, or where the money will come from to know that it's YOUR time! So, here they are.
1. So you really just up and quit your job? What were you thinking?
...Not exactly. I began 2017 knowing that I did not want to bring in another year on a job that didn't fulfill me. Yes, it paid my bills and I didn't lack a thing, but getting up going to a job I absolutely hated made me so resentful. Not because the work environment wasn't great because I ABSOLUTELY adored my coworkers, rather because I knew that the job would never help me to fulfill my purpose. It was merely a stepping stone that I turned into a potential career out of comfort. I told myself I'd only be there for a year and it was currently year 2. I was so comfortable with my boss and my coworkers. I just loved them and couldn't leave. But one by one my coworkers began to find new jobs. The company was changing directions and I didn't really like the new one. I truly believe God fixed it so I wasn't so comfortable anymore. A job I once loved and enjoyed coming to now was the source of my headaches and unhappiness. My coworkers didn't even recognize me. I didn't recognize myself. The more that year 2 looked like it had the possibility of becoming year 3, the unhappier I became. I've never been the "let's stick it out just to say we stuck it out" kind of person. I've always believed that if something makes you that unhappy and you have the power to change it, CHANGE IT! So, in December when reviews rolled around and everyone began discussing what next year would look like, I declared I wouldn't be part of the next year. All of my coworkers laughed thinking I was just being funny Amber, but I was so serious and determined that when the weekend passed I rolled into work with the biggest smile on my face (first time it was genuine in months) on a fresh Monday morning and turned in that resignation. I haven't looked back for even a second.
2. Why the name ForeveRoyalTee and why have ANOTHER t-shirt company when so many already exist?
I talked about the name a little bit in my first blog (Who Am I), but I chose the name ForeveRoyalTee because I believe that we are all royal in some way. Scripture says that if we are in Christ we are Heirs to the Throne. Not only that but that NOTHING can separate us from the love of God. That means that I can't lose my royalty. I am that way forever regardless of my past, my mistakes, my flaws. Royal not only in my Faith, but also in Heritage. People of Color are rich! Beautiful in every way. Yes, we have an ugly, distorted history in America, but we were Kings and Queens before we ever stepped foot on U.S. lands. We were royalty then and still are now. Brothers & sisters with natural hair so intricate and beautifully crafted like crowns on their heads, held high and immovable. If that doesn't scream King and Queen I don't know what does. So the apparel I create speaks to those things: our past, our present, and our future in three areas that matter most to me: Faith, Heritage, and Fabulous Hair in a fashion forward way. I also think this is what has allowed me to stand out even with hundreds of thousands of apparel companies. I've always believed that even if there are many people in a lane, if God tells you to do something and you act in obedience, He will create a lane for you within that "lane". Something that helps you to stand out above the rest. I truly believe that I have something others don't have and I don't even mean super creative, intricate designs or anything like that. I mean FAVOR. And I'm grateful for it.
3. What does your day to day look like?
Everyday is different. Some days are shipping days depending on the prior week. I'm constantly thinking of ideas and figuring out "what's next." I play around with what products I can put out next or what the next series should be, where should I advertise, where will I vend for the month. Things like that. For me, 9-5 is more like 8-2 or 12 am to 10 pm depending on what I have rattling in my brain. In addition to ForeveRoyalTee, I also co-operate a successful performing arts studio with my sisters in the Ridgeland, MS area, Judah School of Performing Arts, teaching piano, voice, and dance mostly everyday (which I absolutely love). I have a non-profit dance company called Leaps of Faith that meets 3-4 times a week, dances at least twice every month and travels. I serve in 3 different ministries at my church every week. And the list goes on. When I say I'm booked, honey I'm BOOKED! What doesn't my day look like.
4. What surprised you the most when pursuing entrepreneurship?
In the age of social media, everything looks so easy!! You look at those cute Instagram and Facebook pages/ads and think, oh I can easily do that! But outside looking in, you don't account for how hard it really is. Seriously, do you know how much work goes into building an Instagram page alone? Not even including marketing and your website, just INSTAGRAM! The sleepless nights, all of the moments with family & friends that you miss out on because you're working, all the money you can miss out on by turning down certain events, the relationships that falter as a result of your determination or because "you don't have time for them", and sometimes your health takes a toll because of the stress. Those are things I never accounted for. Working a 9-5 you never have to wonder if your money is coming. Like you KNOW you worked your 40 hours and you KNOW that check or direct deposit better hit that account. But you can work 40 hours as an entrepreneur and have little to show for it. Every season isn't the same. Some are better than others. You can plan for an event to be really big and account for the numbers you'll make, but only 100 lookers show up to where you were told it'd be at least 500 spenders. For someone that battles depression, that can be A LOT to go through mentally. Days when you want to sit in the dark and just cry or sleep all day to get away from it all, you have to man up and readjust quickly because if you don't work, you don't eat. (Claps hands) BECAUSE YOU DON'T HAVE 'NO' MONEY!!
5. What's the greatest lesson you learned this year (2017)?
I have a love/hate relationship with this question because I've learned so many things and it's hard to narrow it down to only one lesson. All-in-all, I've learned that God is faithful! Even with everything I said in question 4 about it being hard, I wouldn't trade it! I've never been late on a bill. I've never gone hungry. They haven't cut anything off. I've even had money to continue to sponsor people oversees and different missions projects when I actually was considering removing my support because I wasn't sure if I'd be able to pay it. I don't even mean that He's only faithful because I always had it in my bank account. I mean during times when maybe it was a slow quarter and I can't figure out if I should go to Zaxby's or if I need to go to be humble and go to McDonald's (gross), He will send someone along to give me sushi!!!!! And not just any sushi, but the best sushi! (I'm sorry. Food is my happy place.) In His faithfulness He continues to show me how much He loves me, how He is for me, how He holds me in the palms of His hands. When I've been in doubt, He sends friends and even strangers to encourage me. He has sent some of the most unlikely people into my life in this season to help me accomplish my goals. He has them asking themselves WHY! I just say THANK YOU! When I've said Lord I just don't see how, He makes a believer out of not only my enemies, but of ME! He's faithful in that He continues to give me fresh insight and understanding not only from a business standpoint, but in His word. He leads me in the direction I should go. And even when I have been disobedient, even in the suffering, I have seem HIM be faithful! That's the greatest lesson from one year of entrepreneurship.
6. What are your 2018 plans?
Somebody tap your neighbor and just loudly whisper, LIT! I want to completely expand ForeveRoyalTee in the apparel and accessories area. More fashion forward. I want to increase my faith-based shirts, which I have some great ones planned for the year. I want to travel more!! I would like to participate in more shows and events out of state and continue overseas mission work. I want to see every business that I'm apart of completely flourish beyond even my wildest thoughts and aspirations. So far, everything is off to a great start! I want to be faithful and TIMELY in blogging. I need you all to hold me accountable. If I haven't posted a blog by the end of each month, I need someone to write me like FAITHFULNESS, WOMAN OF GOD! New year, new levels, same GOD! This year looks amazing from beginning to end. You just have to stay close and keep watching. Don't blink twice.
I want to encourage anyone who is interested in pursuing their dreams to go for it. The sky is the limit. God didn't give us gifts and talents for us to sit on them or to die with them still inside of us. He gave them to us to use and to multiply (Matthew 25:14-30). For you, it may not require quitting your job. Regardless, it will require sacrifice of some kind, but I promise the reward is so worth it!
P.S. Share your comments below or message me. I'd love to hear your ideas and see your stories. If I didn't answer a question you'd like to know, let me know!! xoxo