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I truly believe that sharing a successful Silhouette Cameo or Cricut based business is a great way to motivate new, struggling, or hopeful small business owners. Today, I’m sharing Courtney’s story – in her words – of why she left a corporate job to pursue a small business with her Silhouette Cameo. I’m turning it over to Courtney:
Do you know that feeling of a singular dread? That gut-wrenching knot in the pit of your stomach that prompts you to keep your eyes closed when your alarm is blaring or leave the engine turning so that you can enjoy the final moments of solitude before you face the day? I quickly realized that this feeling was in direct relation to my office job. It became so overwhelming that on a limb I decided to quit, take on some part time work at a stationery store, and start my own business. That was three months ago. Today I am hustling to put the pieces together, but I have long since abandoned that dread.
For as long as I can remember I wanted to go to college. Each morning from kindergarten onward I strove for academic excellence so that my future options would in no way be diminished. The Honor Roll in elementary school turned into middle school panic attacks about getting grades that would allow me to secure a coveted parking space as a lowly freshman, (true story), which turned into college-level high school classes. The fruit of my labor materialized as an acceptance letter to my top choice university: UC San Diego. The eighteen year quest had been achieved. However much like lonely crusader I felt a strange confusion once I reached my promised land – I had spent so long looking to get to college that once I was there I literally had no idea what I was doing.
I spent my Freshman year of college playing hopscotch with majors. I jumped from fine arts to literature before finally settling on a BFA in dance. While dance has been a constant in my life and something that I am passionate about, I ultimately decided that I did not want to pursue it professionally. Finding myself again floating between confusion and panic I grasped onto the next natural wrung in the ladder and decided to have a career because careers: it’s what you do after college. Having a goal restored order to my life and I worked on graduating early to incur as little debt as possible.
Sometime during my Sophomore Year I had taken an interest in Hospitality and Event Planning. With that notion in mind I took an entry level job at a hotel during a summer in San Diego and continued with a Front Desk Agent position in Malibu once I graduated. My trajectory escalated quickly and with luck I was hired as an Event Manager at a restaurant for a year before taking my last post as an Event Manager at a world-renowned hotel in Beverly Hills. Typically people work as interns and assistants before reaching a management position but while no one was looking I bypassed those steps, plopped down, and pretended I had a decade’s worth of experience. In a moment of true incredulity, I realized that the ploy paid off. My sales and customer relations, (key components of my job), were stellar. I actually admitted to myself that I was good at my job. It wasn’t all luck that had placed me in an esteemed position at a young age.
But as I have learned is quite typical in my personality, I soon realized that I was indeed NOT a career person. Surprise! Even once I came to terms with the fact that I was working as a method of survival and vanity instead of fulfillment, I reached down deeper and acknowledged that not only was I not looking to grow in a career but that I didn’t want to do what I was doing every day for the rest of my life. Sure, I was making a good living, my resume was golden, I had benefits and health insurance, but I was committing 10+ hours each day to an office with no windows, incessant, bone-chilling air conditioning, and was not doing work that was really fulfilling. I was not inspired or challenged creatively, but I was secure. On top of the contentment, I relished having a position with definition. When people inevitably asked what I did I felt proud in revealing my title, as if my job was a testimony to my years spent in “achievement.” My response, though, in no way invoked who I actually perceive myself to be: a creative spirit, a political activist, a thinker, an entrepreneur, a dancer.
And that’s why I left my corporate position for the uncertain and never promising world of arts and crafts.
With a heavy glass of wine and support from my family and friends, I bulked up my savings account, quit my job, and created Cecile’s Paper Co., a custom greeting card and invitation company. As a hobby I have always made handmade cards to give to friends and family. When people suggested that I try selling my creations I always met their comments with reasons why my product would not be successful in the market. Instead, I have started shifting my focus on how I can make my cards a source of profit so that I could do something I love while supporting myself.
Even just three months in it has been worth it for me to abandon my vanity and enjoy this time to live not with the goal of achieving a title, but instead with the intention of being creative and paving my own path. Should my business not succeed I will be satisfied knowing that I gave it a chance instead of spending my days dreaming about what life could have been like beyond my work calendar. I would be lying if I didn’t admit that there have been numerous times where my mouse has flitted over the “apply” button on a LinkedIn account. The sudden lack of pay is unnerving and at times derailing. Yet my thoughts always return to that office and it refocuses my vision on the future. This future is one I intend to create, one filled with art, and one where I am in control of the thermostat.
In making this decision I am also aware of the social and economic factors that enabled me to take such a large risk. While I had set myself up financially to be able to take time away from a steady paycheck I realize that this is not a possibility for everyone at every stage in life. However if you ever find yourself in a position where the only thing tethering you to your corporate title are societal expectations and norms, I recommend firsthand pursuing your passion. For me, the start has been terrifying, but there is a lightness in my soul that keeps me afloat and encourages me forward.
I hope you find encouragement in Courtney’s post for whatever is going on in your small business right now. Do you have a great story based around your Silhouette Cameo or Cricut based business? Share it with me at email@example.com and you might see your story featured here. You can find Courtney’s website online here.
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Since 2015, Christine Schinagl has been helping crafters start and run craft businesses through her blog, Cutting for Business. As a Silhouette and Cricut crafter herself, she has a unique take on what works and what doesn’t work in the craft business world. She also teaches a course on creating digital SVG designs, available at How to Design SVGs.
Sunday 8th of January 2017
I am not at that stage in my life yet, but I will be soon. Working to bulk up and get organized so I can make my leap of faith! Thank you for your encouraging story, it was very helpful.
Sunday 8th of January 2017
Monday 12th of September 2016
Thank you so much for your story. It really hit home. You have no idea when your story or your life experience will have an impact on someone else. I too left a Corporate Job and searching to find my way. I know I can't give up. Thanks again
Friday 9th of September 2016
Everyone - thank you for your overwhelming support! I am both humbled and inspired.
Cindy - I am so happy to hear that my story resonated with you. A move to follow a passion transcends age - I could think of no better time. I found an adventure in starting my own business and I wish you the best on your journey.
Dawn - Thank you for your kind words!
Anne - I am flattered! In so many ways I feel like the cards are an extension of my voice and aesthetic and your compliments mean so much. Thank you for the support and kindness.
Evangeline - Thank you so much! While I had to overcome a great deal of mental obstacles to make such a drastic change I am incredibly lucky to have an encouraging support system. Your words are part of that support that drives me forward.
Thursday 8th of September 2016
Congratulations! I admire your courage in moving forward to follow your dream! Good luck and best wishes for success in your new adventure.
Thursday 8th of September 2016
Courtney - Good for you and LOVE your cards! I'm a card maker too. I've made hundreds and pinned hundreds more. Yours are unique and well done. I predict you'll go far.