Happy new year, Okie Crowe friends! It is hard to believe this is the beginning of our seventh year in business, but here we are! I am not sure if it is the “seven year itch” or simply reflections from the previous year as we celebrate the new start, but we definitely hope to make some great changes in 2017.
I began my business as a hobby, but soon after creating my first bars of soap, a friend suggested that I sell my products–so I did! I bumbled along with a home-based business doing special events and festivals for about two years until I stumbled into the opportunity to open a retail store. It was a challenge I could not pass up. For the past three and a half years, we have ridden the rollercoaster of lessons, including the occasional minor success and some “please, let’s not talk about it” moments.
When I began Okie Crowe, I had the support of my husband. Later, he began to assist heavily in the production of our Okie Crowe products, which helped me concentrate on the not so creative aspects of running the business. When life happened and we got divorced, it severely affected my business’ capabilities. I had been so fortunate to have so much of his help, that even I did not realize the impact life’s change was going to throw my business.
The tiny square footage of my original store hardly provided a paycheck. With my heart and soul so deeply invested in that store and the inability to face another change in my life, I fought to keep it alive in spite of my financial changes. My retired mother has volunteered for several years. Very occasionally, we have a family friend we pay to work in an extreme pinch. Being single again has meant working a variety of jobs hoping to make enough to stay afloat–Uber driver, Lyft driver, accounts receivable admin, paid survey taker, day laborer, restaurant server, road merch for Todd Snider, road merch for The Hardworking Americans, house merch for Cain’s Ballroom, art agent, office assistant, box office assistant at Cain’s Ballroom, and more.
After working one or a few jobs in a day, there is still my own business to conduct, but not much time to relax or have fun, let alone be creative. Churning out bath and body products like a machine at the end of the day has become impossible and production has greatly suffered. We have added some other really awesome products to make up for the lack of Okie Crowe products in-store, but we still have disappointed and frustrated Okie Crowe lovers. We relocated the store in September to a space we have had a commercial sink installed, hoping our new setup would improve business and the holidays would get us through the new year until we could get the soap studio moved in and production going again. Our shop is on a slightly busier street now, but holiday sales were the worst our retail business has ever seen.
We want to make our Okie Crowe fans happy and offer them the selection we have always wanted. We have so many ideas up our sleeve, but are caught at a crossroads where there is only enough time in a day and a very small budget. If our production were up and running in 2016, we could have potentially had our best year ever. (Or perhaps the fumes from my burnt out heart have gotten to me!) I believe where there is a will, there is a way, but am finding it harder to see which way to go.
How do we find the manpower and working capital to get production where it needs to be? Do we need a business partner? Do I simply learn to accept that life has changed and beg to go full-time at my other job instead? Will this be the year the rocketship gets off the ground or goes in for its final landing? Thankfully, that is the magical idea behind a new year–new possibilities for success!
I am too stubborn to give up on this adventure, but know I have too many irons warming in the fire. I desire more balance in life and am struggling to determine how to achieve that for my well-being. I love what I get to do because of my many interests, but know I cannot keep up the same pace another year. What changes would our beloved Okie Crowe friends like to see in 2017? Will we make this the best year ever or the year we make a great alternative evolution? Will we soar or will we roar?