Sunday, September 4, 2016

Oak on the Water

  “When the going gets tough, I'm not always sure what you do. I'm not saying that I know how to fix everything when the going gets tough, but I do know this: when the going goes tough, you don't quit. And you don't fold up. And you don't go in the other direction.”  ― John Madden

    It seems like since we started this business we have had trials and obstacles that we’ve had to figure out and overcome.  It’s been a constant battle of balancing finances, production times, building systems, employees, marketing, taxes, etc....  I think these are all typical of any new business.  Last summer it was a jealous,  disgruntled employee.  This summer it was a “friend” business partner that accused us of stealing and lying.  I’m still baffled by both.

Our Living Room
     I won’t go into the details now about the crazy employee even though it’s a really good story!  Maybe I’ll feel led to share more in a later blog.  I will, however tell you how we overcame the latest because what doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger! 

    We had every intention of closing up shop and starting a new venture this summer.  Our plans were to dissolve our partnership and move forward in this new thing we had been working on.  We even turned our shop off (vacation mode) to keep from getting new orders and were working hard to get the last orders out. 

    Then like a scene from Shakespeare's Julius Caesar, tragedy struck! “Oh man!  Can you pull that knife out of my back? Thanks!” Our business account had been wiped out, and we still had $10,000 worth of orders to complete.   We had no clue what to do.  Shift into crisis mode!

    Breathe... These were the paths laid before us:  We could have said "two tears in a bucket.." not honored our obligations,  let the whole lot of responsibility fall on the LLC and just walk away.  We could have taken legal actions which we consulted our lawyer about.   We did pray;  a lot and endlessly. 

    There was one option that actually came from our lawyer, John White (he’s amazing! Let me know if you need a business lawyer, and I’ll pass his info on).  He advised us to open back up so that we could start generating income to take care of the orders that we had to fill.  At this point we hadn’t received any income from Tiny Lions in 2 months.  Our resources were tapped! 

    We pressed on for the next 2 weeks working in the 120 degree warehouse to complete our final orders, packed up our equipment and moved back home.  Did I mention that through this entire ordeal Etsy put our shop on probation for the month of July, and we were on the verge of being shut down permanently due to late orders?  We fell behind again because we had to find jobs to make money being that we hadn’t received a paycheck from Tiny Lions in 2 months.  Can you say anxiety, stressed out?  You see why I pray?
Jeremy's Tiny Shop

    Low and behold we made it through!  Here we are, back home working out of a small shipping container and our living room.  Praise God!!  Here we are.  We didn’t quit.  We didn’t give up.  We chose to honor our obligations and are so blessed because of it.  We are caught up on orders, and we get to be home with our children again.   I’m actually actively homeschooling instead of “here’s some work-do it!”

    No matter what, never give up.  Don’t you dare give in!  Press on, harder and harder.  Yes, it’s hard.  It hurts.  You may cry.  You may get depressed.  You will come through. Pray, believe, and take action!  Be the tree planted by the water that refuses to be moved.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

How We Started Building Mid Century Modern Coffee Tables

Elli at Lowes in the Van
      We started this little business, Tiny Lions Designs, two years ago in January 2014.  Actually, it probably started when I went to Lowes several months back.  I am always looking for a creative way to make a living, and those damn Etsy articles  “Quit Your Day Job” taunted me like a fast driving ice cream truck taunts a fat kid!  At the time I was waiting tables 3 days a week at Irene’s Cuisine in the French Quarter making full-time pay for part-time work.  It was great!  But I really longed to be my own master.  As the great Dylan says “I didn’t want to work on Maggie’s Farm no more.”  Inspiration hit when I picked up a tapered 6” table leg that was reminiscent of something I would have seen in my grandmother’s house.  It kinda took me back there like chocolate chip cookies and the smell of Taboo with cheap wine.  All warm and fuzzy with the thoughts of Gram, I dreamed up a coffee table that I could sell on Etsy.  I looked around for materials that I could use to build this as simply as I could.  I still wasn’t sure Jeremy was going to go along with my plan that I just dreamed up standing on the table leg isle of Lowes.  I had to keep it simple so even an unskilled girl like me could build it if my plan took off.  I loaded up my purchases with a half-baked dream of being my own boss and drove off into the sunset...

Sunset at the Fly on the Mississippi River

     Back to reality.

     You see this wasn’t my first attempt at entrepreneurship.  This wasn’t even my second.  This wasn’t even the first time I loaded up my cart with a hair-ball idea that was going to help me stay home AND provide for my family.  I had done this sort of thing before.  Jeremy had listened ever so graciously to my plans to start something big many times.  Something that was going to make us independent.  We were just one great idea away from traveling the world and moving to Costa Rica!  But this time, oh this idea.  It has taken us closer than no other. 

     Jeremy at the time worked as a carpenter for a company called Freeman.  Ironically, he was far from a “free-man”.  He worked 7 days a week for what seemed like pennies not from heaven but hours robbed from our family.  Have I mentioned he was also going back to school?  I hated his job.  He hated his job.  But this dream, this little coffee table that we built on our front porch and finished in our dining room was going to free us at last.   Or so I hoped....