If you’re like me, you started your handmade business to make a little extra cash. We were caught up in what would become this drawn out lawsuit with our home builder. At the time I was a stay at home wife and mom to 3 young boys.
So much of my identity had become wrapped up in who I was for them. If you have had the pleasure, you know it is tough to live up to the ideals.
As mothers, we are exposed to a constant stream of pressure to parent a certain way which ultimately leads to feelings of failure. Even though we get it right most of the time, our shortcomings make us feel like we are never enough. We hide it well, we act like we have our shit together because if we don’t, it’s just one more way we have failed. I was desperate to feel worthy so the idea of connecting with something outside of my husband and kids lit a fire inside me and my business was born. However, I would quickly learn the exact same pressures existed in the entrepreneurial world.
I immediately immersed myself into the handmade community, relying on the experience and knowledge of multiple coaches to guide every move I made and influence every decision. By the end of my first year I had so many orders I was working 10 hours days and my husband was helping around his full time job. Looking back on it now, I have a hard time even remembering that year. It was messy and I didn’t navigate it well.
As I started to become a successful entrepreneur my identity became even more externalized and my sense of self worth thrived on external recognition.
I attributed my quick success largely to the teachings of every coach I hired. I strongly valued my coaches recommendations because so much of my worthiness originated from the success of their trainings.
However, they continued to provided me a never ending stream of invitations to have more, do more, and be more.
The more followers I had, the more social media platforms I used, the more products I carried, the more funnels I created, the more successful I would be. The pressure to constantly do more and be more only again instilled a fear of failure in me. If I wasn’t trying everything that was being thrown at me, if I wasn’t keeping up with all the current trends, if I wasn’t doing it all, I was going to fail.
In pursuit of maintaining this false sense of self I continued to purchase more business courses than I had time for, I tested new ways to build connection, found new ways to scale, and new ways to increase productivity.
I was working 10, 12, 14, 16 hour days, fitting life with my kids in between the orders, utilizing whatever I could to keep them entertained. We have 3 boys and at the time they were 5 and 3 (yes, twins!) I had teamed up with my husband only a few months in and we were able to scale our operations and create a competitive edge that set us apart in a saturated market. With that just came more success.
Going into our second year we received concrete dates that my husband was set to deploy for 9 months. As difficult as they are, I have always been grateful for the emotions associated with deployments. The anticipation of your soldier leaving for combat forces you to face the idea of loss. We don’t live each day anticipating the loss of the people we love most. Most of what we do daily is done on auto pilot, without thinking about it at all.
When you are faced with loss you start to take notice of how you are living your life. I believe it’s an opportunity to see the truest form of yourself because the only things that matter are the things that are most important to you. Instead of seeking more, you have gratitude for what is.
Even as a military spouse these emotions fade between deployments. This would be our 4th deployment and I wasn’t concerned about managing life while he was away, at this point I was a pro. I was looking back on the past year, realizing how much I had let go of things that were important to me. I lost sight of the things I valued. We had stopped traveling, spending time with family and friends, and I never made time for the activities I once loved. We were spending less time with our kids and less time as a family. I started to question why I had become so caught up in this desire for more. Why was I hustling for my worthiness and who was it for? Why, for so long did I abandon my own intuition and conform to what I was being told? Why, like most other women did I struggle so much with this? Why did I never feel like I was enough?
I was searching for my worthiness when all a long it was right there. I was too busy trying to keep up with everyone else to even notice it. I never allowed myself the opportunity to see my worth. I constantly exposed myself to a stream of invitations to be, have, and buy more in my personal and business life. I allowed myself to be manipulated and I was being taught to do the same. I was so desperate it didn’t matter that I knew all the tricks in the book, they still worked on me. I destroyed any hope of understanding myself, my value or worthiness by conforming to the belief that I would become enough once I was doing it all. I wasn’t practicing gratitude for what I had. I put no value on my own intuition. It was in that moment I realized it was time to stop living a life defined by the outside world and stop fearing how that world would view me. It was time trust myself, be mindful and grateful. Because that was enough.
We stopped growing the business and starting practicing gratitude for what it had become. Instead of focusing on more, I simply focused on what was. I stepped back and really took time to evaluate what was motivating the choices I was making. I asked myself questions like, “When are you most happy? When are you most frustrated? What brings you stress? What brings you joy? What are you passionate about? What motivates you?” I really took time to listen to my mind and body. I stopped being so impulsive and desperate. It was difficult, it took time and a lot of self-awareness. I spent months practicing self-awareness, evaluating my choices and what was driving them.
Over time this really amazing thing happen. Once I started to become more in touch with my emotions, instead of ignoring them, only then was I able to experience life in a way where my perception was not being influenced. My beliefs were clear and I was able to define my values and promote self-love. I slowly began spending my days centered around what was meaningful to me. I was doing things that brought purpose in my life and nurturing my connections with people who loved me. Most importantly, I was finally able to be brave and vulnerable enough to say that the business I had built was not serving the life I wanted. Without fear of judgment, shame, or failure, and with no guarantee of what was to come next, I was able to let go of my successful handmade business to pursue a life and a new business I love without sacrificing who I am or what I value most.
All of this led to one burning question… Is it possible to radically change the small business industry, so that people can feel seen, heard and valued. Can we be successful by our own standards, inspire people, help people, and restore a little humanity? And accomplish all of this without using the behavioral science of manipulation, fear and scarcity.
This time I am building a life and business based on my values, my beliefs, and my goals while learning to recognize which opportunities support them. I believe it isn’t about what I’m giving up, it’s about trading. I am letting go of the inessential, to make room for what is really important to me. I am setting boundaries and making choices that are aligned with my values and how I want to live my life. I am letting my intuition guide me down a road of success defined by me, not the industry. I am going against everything this industry stands for and bulldozing my own path because I am worth it, YOU are worth it.
I became so passionate about the livelihood of the seller over the livelihood of the business I spent two years researching, reading book after book on different topics like behavioral science, vulnerability, wholeheartedness, shame, courage, emotional intelligence, social intelligence, etc… All while continuing to learn about business and leadership. I created this blog as a free resource to handmade sellers. I want to share what I have learned as a way to inspire courage. In an industry defined by scarcity, fear, and uncertainty I want to inspire connection through authenticity. To be our true authentic selves we have to allow ourselves be vulnerably seen. You wanna know the best part? The livelihood of your business relies solely on the livelihood of you, the seller. It’s that simple (that is the idea, not the path to getting there.)
I want you to remember, the drive to have more and be more in itself is not a bad thing but you have to be mindful of whats motivating it. When you really know what you value and value what you have then you are less inclined to seek more based on outside influences. Instead, you are mindful of how your desire for more will serve the life you want.
xoxo, Kristina Nicole
My hope is to inspire others to live a life and build a business that inspires them so that together we can change our industry by creating trust and loyalty in a world where kindness has become the exception.
If I have inspired you today I would love for you to take a moment to share my story. XOXO