Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Sifting Through the Past: An Archeological Study of my Closet

Part of the process of starting my business has been to transform my old bedroom in my parents' house into an office.  It was a long and strenuous process since the poor little room was filled to capacity with furniture, boxes, and more than a decade's worth of my "treasures."  I felt like I was working in a giant shadow box of my past.  However, I am now enjoying the fruits of my labor as I sit at my desk in a clutter-free(ish) zone.  You too, dear Reader, will also have the opportunity to enjoy the experience as I take you on a guided tour of my past via my closet:

Finding #1:  Eight bottles of purple nail polish, various shades
     This is a relic of my middle school years, obviously during my purple phase.  The shades ranged from bright and sparkly to almost black.  Looking at this evidence, I'm not sure if was going for pretty and girly or slightly edgy.  I honestly do not know what possessed me own that much nail polish since I always had really short fingernails.  Oh well; it was middle school, and therefore completely inexplicable.
   -The nail polish went in the trash.

Finding #2:  Six beanie babies, mostly off-brand
     Ah, another middle school memory!  I was in 6th grade at the height of the Ty Beanie Baby craze.  I moved to Virginia and started public school for the first time that December, and I was eager to have some way to relate to my new classmates.  During lunch break, a whole group of tween girls went outside to play with them.  Thankfully, I've grown out of the phase where I need plastic bean-filled animals to make friends.
   -The beanie babies were donated so they can help some other awkward girl.

Finding #3:  Five almost blank journals
     It would appear that I am terrible at journaling!  I discovered an entire box full of nothing but journals.  I looked through each one, eager to reacquaint myself with my past thoughts.  However, each only contained a few pages of writing.  This worrisome trend of not finishing anything kind of terrifies me since I'm trying to start a new life now.  On the plus side, I couldn't make myself dumber by reading too many self-indulgent adolescent musings.
   -I kept the journals as a warning against repeating past mistakes.

Finding #4:  Assorted children's books
     Several years ago, I took a bunch of children's books from my parents' basement for a storytelling project in a Public Speaking class.  Apparently, I never returned them.  The basement flooded this winter and most of the books my sisters and I read as children were ruined.  Thanks to my unintended thievery, Amelia Bedelia, The Little Engine That Could, The Pea Patch Jig, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, and other classic stories were saved from the flood waters.
   -Of course I kept the books!  Ashley is very excited to read them to Jack.

Finding #5:  Several stacks of pictures
     I was absolutely thrilled to find pictures spanning my entire life.  I saw myself and my sisters as babies, then perpetually tan little girls with thick brown curls playing dress-up in the back yard.  Looking through scenes of my past--hunting for Easter eggs with my cousins, visiting Prince Edward Island after Ashley graduated from high school, sitting backstage before a production of The Miracle Worker, eating a picnic lunch with my first boyfriend before he was my boyfriend, forensics trips to Princeton and Gatlinburg and Princeton--I felt overwhelmingly blessed.  My whole life, I've been surrounded by family and friends who love me more than I could ever deserve.

What can I say?  It really is a wonderful life!  And now it's a wonderful life with more closet space.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Unlimited Sick Days and No Health Insurance

Has it really only been 1.5 weeks since I started this new venture?  Somehow it seems so very much longer!
I had a vision of how my life would be when I opened my own business.  In my mind I was always impeccably yet casually dressed with killer shoes, perfect unfrizzable curls, and the grace and ease which always characterizes the truly brilliant.  Ashley and I would meet every day in neat orderly space and discuss the hilarious card concepts we developed over a cup of freshly brewed coffee.
As it turns out, I'm an idiot.
JA Greetings' first official meeting took place last Tuesday in Ashley's kitchen.  I showed up hot and sweaty from the gym with decidedly frizzy hair, and my brother-in-law and nephew were watching Star Wars in the adjoining family room.  The meeting mostly consisted of writing down a list of the card concepts we already had, setting an impossible deadline, and trying to block out the fact that Jack (the nephew, not the brother-in-law) was running around us in circles screaming, "The rest of them are dead!"  (Side note: He was talking about wilted blueberries.  Really, our family is just overly dramatic, not creepy.)  The whole experience was nothing like I pictured it, except Ashley did make me coffee.

The next day we learned that (part of) the reason Jack screamed so much was that he was getting sick.  Consequently, Mommy, Daddy, and Aunt Jamie all got quite sick as well.  The next afternoon I felt like someone had kicked me in the face, and very little was accomplished for the rest of the week.  The original plan was to have three cards for sale in our Etsy shop by Aug. 17.  Of course, that has not happened.  As I was laying in bed getting woozier by the minute, I thought, "It's a good thing I don't have a regular job anymore.  I was running out of sick days!"  Later I came back to my senses enough to know that the thought was ironic at best and incredibly depressing at worst.  The thing that brought me back to my unfun senses was a letter reminding me that my health insurance coverage ends this month.  I can pay an arm and a leg for COBRA, but I also have no income.  Plus I'm not sure that COBRA covers the prosthetic arm and leg I would need after sending the payment.  The whole situation is like a missing verse from an Alanis Morissette song.
Once I recovered from my nephew-induced illness, I learned something very important about my new business:  I have no idea what I'm doing!!!  I've lost track of the amount of time I've spent researching business regulations and tax requirements and shipping rates; if I had the money to pay myself, I'd be making a lot of overtime.  Then again, hiring an employee required a lot more paperwork (I recently discovered)!

I met with Ashley again today for many many many hours.  The background movies today were Up and The Incredibles.  While we made some progress--for instance, the printer works on vellum (yay!) and we're now registered with the Virginia Department of Taxation (yay?)--we still aren't ready to list our cards online.  It turns out we're missing some important elements, like envelopes and stuff.
Also, Jack started crying that he wanted Aunt Jamie back in her car.  Sheesh!  The first meeting he makes me sick, and the second meeting he insults me.  This kid seriously needs to get his own business and stay out of mine!

Friday, August 13, 2010

New Beginnings

Hello, my name is Jamie and I am un/self-employed.

Reader response:  Hello, Jamie!

Last week, I quit a stable job with excellent benefits and coworkers I enjoyed to start a business with my sister.  Designing greeting cards.  In a recession.  I'm pretty sure I'll be on the Fortune 500 list (or sell a card to someone who may occasionally wear a business suit) by the end of the year.

Ashley, my sister/partner-in-business and/or crime, is a talented artist and actually has a degree in illustration.  She produces all of the artwork for JA Greetings.  I write the text of the cards and handle the actual business details, like the money and the shipping and all of the other not-so-fun stuff.  My degree is in psychology in case you were wondering.

I've worked in customer service for the last three years which means that I was basically nice for a living.  Now I'm trying to be witty, creative,  practical, structured, managerial, and detail-oriented.  Basically, I'm developing split personalities.  I may have to change my name to Sybil.  And Sarah.  And Libby.  And Rhoda.  And Natasha.

This blog is meant to record the ups and downs of starting a business, working with family, and figuring out if it's better to move back in with parents or spend countless hours in a cubicle.  I hope it will read more like a Heratio Alger story than One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, but only time will tell.