Wowee, these past few weeks have had me up and down, and spun all around.
I finally finished Thankful, my free gratitude journaling course, and I couldn’t be happier.
Yes, free. I know spending hours agonising over what to write about and building a whole course on gratitude to give away for nothing seems contradictory when you’re trying to get your busienss off the ground.
Trust me, I’ve had my doubts about this too.
All the bro marketers and boss babes are choking on their protein shakes and screaming in their immaculate make-up because according to the hustle and grind ethos, I should be calculating the value of my time down to the minute.
And then sell it to you with a fake scarcity threat, like it’ll never be sold again, or in 15 minutes the price will TRIPLE.
But I just can’t get my head around doing business that way.
Or more like I can’t get my heart into it.
Because in a world where your goal is to wake up at 4 am for a cold shower and a run before cranking out a 16-hour day at your laptop for the sake of “making it”, there’s no space for heart.
They all proclaim loudly that they’ve given up the 9-to-5 rat race but all they’ve done is replace it with a different kind of hamster wheel.
One that’s on 24/7 and in every room of your house.
When do you have time to breathe? Space to live?
I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t thinking about having a business.
This particular manifestation of having a business, letting the artist and writer in me run wild, started sometime around 2012.
I remember that because that’s the year I had to take time away from the brick-and-mortar business I started with my husband to go find a job.
I figured if I’m going to be in retail, I may as well apply where the pay is the best, and that’s how I started a career at what was then the most prestigious retailer in the country.
I got hired at the flagship store and started off with a summer job in toys, before going on to a 5-year stint in Baby & Kids.
And it was actually nice. I met some great people, there were some real old-timers there who taught me the ropes, women who’d been there for decades, and I was easily able to get extra hours on top of my part-time contract.
As someone who doesn’t shy away from hard work or difficult tasks, I quickly became the go-to gal when they needed someone flying between deparments.
A quick learner, I was soon going where the need was the greatest and selling baby clothes and supplies, kids’ clothes and accessories, children’s shoes from first-shoes up to teenagers.
Teens was my least favourite place, I just didn’t gel with the haughty teenagers and their rich parents.
My favourite place was shoes, specifically helping the first-time parents buy shoes for their newly mobile toddlers.
It was a place where I could take the time to help, inform and assist people to solve real problems.
And though I was really good at it, my pit boss refused to move me there permanently, even when a place there opened up. Instead, she wanted someone reliable in Baby, and so I was moved away from the work I so loved and all my friends.
Then when the organisation got shuffled, our department was moved under Menswear.
And that’s when we got a hag of a boss.
Newly divorced, it was now her mission to turn this ship around!
She forbade us from wearing gloves in children’s shoes (ew, because we routinely needed to touch icky sweaty feet), told us that we’re not allowed to say anything other than ‘hello’ to our colleagues (to prevent idle chatter which was a problem in Menswear but not Kids), and made us the poster child for everything that was wrong with the company.
Nevermind the fact that our department routinely met and exceeded our targets, outselling her beloved Menswear.
She started coming in with “suggestions” on make-up, hair, what accessories were allowed with our uniforms (e.g. the size or earrings allowed), we weren’t allowed to bring candies to the back room for sharing anymore, and we were to be stationed at a certain corner for a certain amount of time before walking a set circuit of the department and then stationing ourselves for another few minutes at the other end.
She wanted an always moving, always smiling army of robots.
And customers stopped coming because they felt attacked. Our mandates to greet every single customer, or else, was drummed into us to a point where as soon you’d walk into a department, you’d be ambushed by three members of staff.
The fear was thick in the air.
Gone was the genial, helpful, customer service oriented approach of yesteryear. Customer service staff wasn’t allowed to fold or clean up the departments (!!!) because restocking wasn’t our job, it was someone else’s.
But restocking, organising, making displays and setting out offers was how we learned about the products, got our hands on them and learned about them.
It’s how we rememebered what sizes were left and what was on offer and where and for how much.
Once that was denied us, customer service started tanking because we didn’t know anything about the products anymore. Customers complained of poor service and we were told, “You have fully allotted man-hours, do better”.
As if man-hours is the same as people on the floor.
It was the worst kind of management-by-excel where eveyrone and everything was just a number. I left that and moved into restocking.
I got women’s accessories and luxury handbags. The products were fun, the people the most stuck up I’d ever met.
I started up on the 6th floor where we had the toy department, children’s clothes and burger chain. I quickly learned that the closer you moved to street level, the snootier it got.
Cosmetics & perfumes and handbags & accessories were on the first floor. (Menswear was on the second floor.)
And as I switched from the customer service uniform to the cargo pants of the restocking crew, so the esteem other sales staff had previously accorded me (though I was on the bottom of the pyramid even then) went out the window.
They talked to me like I was an idiot. Explaining things to me. Like. I. Was. Dumb. Deaf. And. Stupid.
And I clearly didn’t have the capacity to understand that the brands I was handling – Burberry, Ted Baker, Dior, Gucci, DKNY, Ralph Lauren, Longchamp, Marc Jacobs (and Marc by Marc Jacobs for Marc Jacobs with Marc Jacobs) etc. – were precious little gems that should be worshipped as the gifts from the gods of consumerism.
It was on vacation from this dream job that I started a sole trader business on a whim.
I’d just had enough and decided it was time for something else. Something more meaningful than fawning over the customer with the most money, and being able to buy the most expensive luxury accessories on a mere shop keeper’s pay.
I announced to my boss in restocking at 5 months’ pregnant that I was going on maternity leave later in the year.
He said, “No fuck… Congrats.”
Charming man, I know.
The fact that all my colleagues just assumed I was getting real fat, real fast just sealed the deal.
I didn’t have friends there. All the young ones just tolerated the job while they were passing through. The old ones were drowning in credit card debt and couldn’t get work anywhere else so they were stuck there.
I went on maternity leave and never went back.
Officially I quit that job in 2019 because by then I’d started building this business and decided that I can’t tell my daughter to chase her dreams if I don’t first chase mine.
And here I am, essentially two years in on an almost 10-year journey.
It’s taken a long time to figure out who I am as an artist, as a writer. Who am I as a person who contributes to the world?
And today I’m celebrating a major milestone: I’ve finally created email courses that really help people to do life-changing deep inner work.
The Money Mindset Workshop came first, and I wrote that like I was on Adderall. Pounding out 25 days of material (92 pages) in just two weeks wasn’t healthy.
And so, I’ve taken it more slowly this time around, and the results are no less impressive than the last time.
21 days worth of science-based material to help you create a gratitude practice in your life.
A practice that heals your mind, body and spirit. A practice that is so simple and takes so little time on a daily or weekly basis that there isn’t an excuse for any of us to not do it.
Thankful is live and it’s free.
Because as much as I want to build this business to a point where it’s my main source of income, I also want to help people.
And journaling is a practice I think everyone should have access to.
Everyone should have a chance to learn.
If you’d like to join, you’re so very welcome!
Or maybe you know someone who could use a boost that’s backed by science, send them right over!
I know we’ve all been hard pressed to remember the good things in life these past two-ish years now, among all this isolation, confinment and confusion.
There can never be too much gratitude in the world.
And you can never have too much gratitude in your life.
Though you can do gratitude the wrong way and get gratitude fatigue – I teach you how to avoid that in Thankful, so click here to sign up now!