Remember my last post when I talked about dreading to write like it was a mammogram? By the way, don’t put those off! Well, this is another one of those posts that I’ve been mulling over for some time. Strap in!
A few years back, I almost gave up my business. I had taken so many hits that maybe it was time to take the hints from the universe and just walk away with the lessons learned. But to really understand this story, we need to back it up just a little bit; stay with me. It gets juicy!
Several years ago, my VP at the time convinced me that pretty much everything I had built so far was wrong. He came in and played on my insecurities, and I fell hard for all of it. I am the first to admit that I have made some major mistakes up to this point. I had never run a business before and was learning on the fly.
Here is where I started to really doubt my inner voice and creative eye.
First, he convinced me to lower the quality of my packaging. Then to slash all my pricing in half and eventually move my production out of state so that he could ‘manage’ everything.
At this point in my life, I was in survival mode as a single mom recovering from a stroke. I was unhappy, exhausted, and scared. Reluctantly, I took him up on his offer. After all, he had me convinced that he was doing me a favor by taking a failing business off my hands. I had zero faith in what I had built, the quality of my products, or the longevity of my company.
He started to convince me I should just sell the company to him and walk away.
During this time, I was driving Uber and Lyft to support my child and me. I believed him when he told me that everything was going back into the company. Here I was driving until 3 am each night and then working all day for Gleeful Peacock when he took his family on a trip to Mexico. Something didn’t add up. I started digging and uncovered the fraud that was happening right under my nose. He was writing checks to his daughters’ college from the company, buying expensive cigars and meals, all while I worked two jobs and received nothing from the business.
It’s embarrassing to admit, but my initial thought was to just let him have the business and walk away when I first realized what was happening. I didn’t want to deal with the confrontation. You see, that has been one of my greatest weaknesses. I HATE confrontation and now realize that this has made me an easy mark for these conmen and manipulators.
Word of advice, if you hate it, learn to navigate it. It is a must in life. A difficult conversation can save you years of heartache.
At this point, I felt like anyone could be against me. I felt completely insane, was questioning everything, and didn’t know who to trust.
Then something switched in me, and I realized that if this creation of mine was going to die, I would be the one to give it a proper burial and would do so on my own terms.
On a Wednesday evening, I swallowed my pride and went to talk with a trusted neighbor that is an FBI agent and told him what was happening. He is a dear friend with some expertise in this area. It was both embarrassing and liberating. His words of advice still ring in my ears. He said, “You have to cut the head off the snake.” We booked tickets that night, and by Saturday morning, we were on a one-way flight to take back my company and my power.
I was so scared. I thought my voice might shake, or maybe my friend might need to step in. But a certain calmness came over me. No matter the insults he hurled at me. No matter how many times he called me crazy or told me I would fail without him, I was calm. I knew I was doing what needed to be done, and it was the first time in years I was following my gut.
I fired him, packed up a U-haul, and drove over 22 hours to unload the physical components of my business into my garage. I knew the company most likely wouldn’t make it. But at least I hadn’t given up my power or my creation.
For a few years, it was more about trying to just keep my head above water. I was digging out of a massive hole, emotionally and financially. I was so thankful for customers who continued to order even though I had very little energy to devote to anything other than fulfilling those orders. It kept my little family going.
Since he had slashed the pricing, I timidly began to up them slightly. Still way below what they were. I went back to the packaging I had before him (It was the packaging dude #1 created). I didn’t love it, but at least it wasn’t flimsy. I survived and made tiny changes. But I was not happy with where the company was creatively or financially, and all I could see when I looked around were problems to fix and past hurt.
Then, I started healing.
I spent a lot of time in mediation questioning if Gleeful Peacock was even what I wanted to do anymore. I had both horrible and lovely feelings towards it. Finally, I gave myself permission to think about abandoning it and trying something new.
What came about during those mediations was that I had yet to fully realize MY VISION of Gleeful Peacock. I didn’t want to walk away until I had done all the things I knew I wanted to do with this business.
The motto had always been to Spread Love, Kindness and Glee and by damn I really wanted to do that!
So how do I go about rebuilding a company that’s been stripped of its joy and made to look like just a typical gift company? Well, that’s a work in progress! In baby steps, I focused on what I KNEW needed to change.
Through each revision, my confidence grew. More and more, I was leaning into the vulnerability of seeing my ideas as credible and worth exploring.
Producing designs with my art and my aesthetic was at the top of the list. If I was going to dig deep and reclaim Gleeful Peacock for myself, I needed to remove everything that gave me bad vibes.
- A refocus on Charm Bar to create fun and interactive memory-building spaces in stores.
- I am sharing more of my stories and lessons through blogging.
- I am creating a more inclusive brand with imaging and messaging (more on that later).
- And last but not least, I am creating fulfilling jobs for women in my community.
This last one is near and dear to my heart. In fact, you could say that a lot of my actions are so that this one is possible. I pride myself on a positive workplace, and I want to be able to pay our makers a livable wage.
That is where this post comes in. Over the next few months, there will be a slight increase in pricing.
Okay... I know it seems like I buried the lead here. But you need to know the whole story. The new prices are still less than what they were before that guy slashed them in half. We are only increasing by a small percentage. The increase is going to help boost the maker’s wages. I’m banking on the new packaging and new items to offset any price increase *fingers crossed*. The funny part is, you may not have even noticed the price increase, but transparency is important to me.
At the end of the day, I want to know that I am adding value to my customer’s and my maker’s lives.
I am dedicating my life to a heart-centered journey that entails making decisions based on love and not fear. We are all on this planet together, and all of our actions matter. So let’s make the world we want to see!
I hope you will stick around and help us spread love, kindness, and glee! We can do this.
To those who have believed in me, cheered me on, and been there for me. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. This story doesn’t name everyone that helped this happen. If I went into details, I would be writing a book. But make no mistake, I know everyone’s part in the journey, and I thank you, and I appreciate you.