It’s been a few weeks since I announced we were closing now. I’ve been digesting the response. Sadness from our fans but also enthusiasm and support. Understanding from our wholesale partners who know what it’s like to run a small business. Most surprising, the many, many women business owners who reached out and said, “Me too”, “I feel the same way” “I could have written your blog post myself” or “I’m just not sure if, when or how to make the decision to close”. It’s this last response that has struck me the most. Why is it so hard to make a decision to move on? Is it that we feel like we need a valid reason others will understand? That is needs to be a dire situation, like the finances just won’t work or a drastic change in our personal lives? Maybe it’s that we feel like we’ve put so much into our business, it would feel like a total waste to walk away now?
I can say that personally I have felt all of these questions to some extent. It feels like I’m just finally getting things running smoothly, using what I’ve learned in five years of business to grow and be efficient and sell more t-shirts. Why would I walk away from that now? I can’t say that things are bad, just that I don’t feel inspired anymore. The company is not going bankrupt, I’m making some money, but for the time and headspace I put in, it doesn’t feel like enough. The question it came down to for me was, “Do I want to do this anymore?” And that question encompassed a lot of thoughts for me. Am I being fed creatively or am I spending more time on the business side of things? [yes, the latter] In that case, do I want to run a business without the creative fulfillment I’ve set out for? [no, not really} If I was making tons more money would I feel differently? [yes, I would. It would make me think harder about this decision, and I might work harder to keep things going, but that alone would not keep me bound to something I didn’t want to do}. Is it okay to just change my mind about wanting to do this business? [big, resounding YES] Whew. As I write that out I realize why it’s hard to make that decision final. It’s not one thing that makes it clear, it’s many things and a lot of them are based on gut feelings. But if there is anything I’ve learned since becoming a mom and a business owner it’s to listen to my intuition. And not just to tune in to hear what she’s saying, but to listen to her. Heed that advice, that nudging deep down in my soul.
I went on a local Arlington radio show last week to talk about this decision to close. It was hosted by the awesome Evelyn Powers of Awesome Women Entrepreneurs, which is a group I’ve been a part of for several years. One of the things we talked about that I think is really important to explore is why we’re in business. For women especially, a common reason is to have flexibility for our kids. We want to volunteer at their schools, take them to activities and be home for dinner. But at the same time, we want to work. Whether that’s for a paycheck, professional fulfillment, using our gifts and talents or simply a creative outlet, women are trying to do a lot and that equation is one we need to regularly revisit. When I started District Line Co. five years ago, I had a baby and pretty soon thereafter another baby on the way. I didn’t start it because I had nothing else to do (hello, new motherhood), I actually largely started it because I needed a break from the constant and often boring days of being with a baby. I had left my old career as a government contractor and in that had wholly lost my professional identity. Suddenly I didn’t have anywhere to go each day, no paycheck and frankly I didn’t really know who I was besides “Mom”. A beautiful identity but one that completely overwhelmed me. Now, almost six years out, I feel differently. My kids are getting to the age that I enjoy being with them more, I want to be there for the things that are important to them because I know these years are short. It has hit me that these years are the bonding years in a way that the baby years weren’t. Now I can feel the impact of my presence on my kids and I want to have the time and more importantly the mental space to be there for that.
So back to the question: why am I working? Five years out, I felt it was time to reevaluate that question. DLC has given me what I was looking for: a creative outlet, an opportunity to explore and use my talents, a way to make some money, community. Honestly, it’s given me way more than I set out to find. I consider that a raving success. We aren’t closing out of desperation, I am pivoting by choice and what better way if you can swing it? So when people ask my why I’m closing and if I’m doing okay with that decision I can honestly say, “I’m great! I feel 100% at peace with it”. Because I believe it is completely okay for us to change our minds about something we chose in a different stage for different reasons. I believe being in tune with ourselves is the most honest voice we have available to us. And I believe it is that voice that will lead me to my next great thing, even if that is just a quiet schedule and some white space for awhile.
I’m really interested in continuing to explore this topic. Are you in this position with your business- not really 100% in it but not sure if, when, how or why you should move on? Have you chosen to pivot or close your business? I'd love to hear your thoughts and experiences. Please leave a comment or get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org. This is a conversation I think is missing in the entrepreneurial space and one that I’d love to have.
PS- Did we mention that we’re going out of business? :) Things are going fast but we still have some great stock and it’s all 25% off! Use code FAREWELL25 at checkout. Shop today for the best selection. Thanks for helping us go out in great local style!