in the middle

August 23rd, 2011   |   Business AdviceLife

I think I need today’s post to help me process my thoughts as much as I hope it helps others in business or contemplating a start-up.

Besides my own life getting off track this summer, I also have been working through things on the business side as well.

Each year since I launched Jess LC four years ago, I’ve tackled a new area of business which has catapulted Jess LC to new levels. But that also means that each year I have faced a huge (stressful) learning curve. In 2007 I took a part-time hobby from college to full-time company in a studio apartment in Chicago. In 2008 I got sales reps who took our distribution from 15 stores to over 100 and brought on jewelry making assistants and interns. In 2009 I strayed from wholesale accounts focused on selling online and started MML. In 2010 I completely re-branded, launched a new site, shopping cart, packaging, and designed cast pieces which were custom made for Jess LC. I also worked with a major PR company in New York and LA who got our jewelry in Real Simple, People Magazine, and Daily Candy. And this year, 2011, has been the year of designing collections beyond jewelry.

Early in January while speaking at a conference in New York, I finally dared myself to think beyond jewelry. And the minute that I dared to imagine that I could design my favorite item to personally purchase, handbags, I was over the moon. I also quickly conceived the idea of making Jess LC a lifestyle brand with many new products, and I set to work making the very popular Lake Shore collection.

What hasn’t been so apparent since that spring launch is that I’ve also been working on four other new areas as well.

Since June, I’ve been working side by side with new sources to make the other collections. These new products are all in areas that production-wise, I knew absolutely nothing about. And I’m realizing that in my quest to design and launch the four new collections simultaneously, I’ve bitten off more than I can chew.

In theory I imagined that this process would be fantastic, easy, and fun. And at first it was fun, then it was challenging, and now it is hard. I’ve had to learn to work with three totally new people and companies who all have their own ways of doing things, and who are not always able to produce exactly to my preferences. Time lines, likewise, are frequently delayed, samples are denied, and materials are inaccurate.

My enthusiasm for my ultimate vision underestimated my capabilities and those of my suppliers. And while I keep pushing along, expecting things to go perfectly, I end up banging my head against the wall, trying to control things beyond my reach.

I thought that by leveraging suppliers and experts in the areas my life would be easier. But the reality is that it is actually more stressful because it is so often now out of my hands.

So after months of hard work, highs, lows, stalls, and waiting, the collections are finally reaching completion and look great. But in order to really get things going, I also realize that I should cut one of the items which isn’t up to par with what I’d like to present on Jess LC. My hope is to perfect it, and return to it again next year.

I’m also learning that four collections launching over the next three months is a too much to do properly, so I’m going to do a double launch of two collections together in September, another launch in October, and a final launch in early November.

By dropping the one problem style, skipping a photo shoot and launching two collections together, I am taking a step back from my massive expectations. I am ditching perfection in favor of doing what is do-able. As much as I want to do everything, I also want to do things well. And if that means taking smaller steps and being more flexible, that is what I need to embrace.

I’ve learned that I can’t expect things to be easy or perfect, but I can have faith that they will be worth it. As Joyce Meyer says, you have to go through the middle to get to the other side.

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  • Jenn

    I really can’t wait to see what you have in store. Ever since we voted on leather colors, I’ve been excited to see the products and continue to support Jess LC!

  • http://smalltimestyle.blogspot.com Lauren

    Same here – and I think you also nailed the head on the key to a successful business – Ship it, ship well, but don’t wait to ship too long, otherwise you never will (paraphrased from Seth Godin). Way to ship Jess – you’re taking steps that some people just dream of doing!! And I for one can’t wait to see the results!!

  • http://www.maggieroseonline.com Maggie Rose

    A great lesson for us reading as well. New projects can be so invigorating and exciting I could definitely see how more could seem better than one! You’re taking smart steps that make sense (spreading out your launches keeps customers coming back for something new over three months! Even better than one glorious launch!) and I know that the pride you take in your work will show in the quality of the products. Can’t wait!

  • http://www.LrnMDesign.com Lauren M.

    I always love reading your posts. You are such an inspiration and I love that you are so open about the trials and tribulations that you are going through. And that quote from Joyce Meyer! So true :)

  • http://www.makeundermylife.com Jess

    Thank you all so much! I am excited to share everything with you. It’s just a matter of being patient until they are ready to do so. :)

  • http://www.adventuresinheritage.com Kayla

    Thanks for sharing your journey. You are such an inspiration because you are so honest. I can’t wait to see the new collections!