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So… what’s next?

April 4, 2010

No really, that’s a question for you guys to help me answer.  Because here it is Sunday, the day I spend thinking about how awesome it would be to not go back to work tomorrow.

Realistically there’s no way I can just up and quit my job, no matter how many Sunday nights I dream about doing so. So what I need to do is figure out how to earn my way out of it. I have never been the kind to leap without not only looking, but also lining up my landing pad with relative precision. This can and should be no different.

So although it goes against my nature, I am asking for help (the computer screen makes it easier) and I’m asking you, my readers.

I’m looking for inspiration, ideas, best practices if you will. So please, take a look at the below list of personal factors and then tell me… what would you do?

  • I likely have a year or more of servitude left in this job*, unless something really crazy happens which is doubtful since we don’t even play the lottery. Debts need to be paid before we can truly contemplate me quitting. Therefore I have time to figure this out, but would love to get started asap.

*Typing that made me want to vomit. Neat.

  • I need to be home more. Piper will be in preschool around the time I’d be hoping to flip this switch and I want to be able to spend more time with her. Not saying I don’t want to work 40 hours or even more in a week, but it has to be flexible. I need to be able to walk away from “it” for an hour if needed to go read a story or make play doh or build a fort and come back after bedtime.
  • I’m not going back to working in an office. I simply can’t fathom the concept. I’m pretty committed to that.
  • I would like to work for myself. Holy Crap. Did I just write that down?
  • What’s even crazier than writing that down is that I think I mean it.
  • I think I would like to make something and sell it. I have sold intangibles for Aorporate America for almost a decade. I would like to sell a real product, that I produce and am in control of.
  • I have some creativity, and limited skills which I’d love an opportunity to sharpen and expand. I can quilt but in order to produce something really marketable I would need to upgrade my machine (this is certainly acceptable if it’s an appropriate investment). I can certainly cross stitch and technically I can knit, but would need a lot lot lot of practice.

The birthplace of an empire?

  • Christopher would be willing to help/join me in this endeavor. He is an amateur (awesome) woodworker.
  • At the moment, I am leaning toward some sort of Etsy shop. What crafts or handmade things do you like to make? What do you buy? If you have an Etsy shop, can I be your new BFF and can you teach me everything you know?
  • Other than handmade things, what non-traditional ways are you, or people that you know, making a living and providing for their families? I would love to know how others are making it work.

Judging from the comments it got, my last post about needing a change seemed to really resonate with some of you. And so I’d also like to know, for those of you contemplating a major professional change in whatever stage and for whatever reason:

  • What are you doing to make that changes happen in your own life? What is your motivation? What is your timeline? Have you “run the numbers”? If so, did they freak you out? What’s your plan?
16 Comments leave one →
  1. April 4, 2010 12:40 pm

    I have no advice… but I have lots of luck sent your way! 🙂 I wish I could get out of my career, but I’m sorta stuck with all the debt I incurred from law school. The numbers freak me out. That being said, we’re on a 5 year plan. I’ve now completed 2.5 of the 5 years so I’m halfway done! I don’t know what we’ll do after 5 years, but there MUST be a change!

    I hope other people have better advice! 🙂

  2. April 4, 2010 2:43 pm

    I’m excited for you! Sounds like you’re thinking this through a lot. That’s good. I think some things I’d consider are, to me, the Etsy/homemade market seems really saturated and hard to actually make a living off of, especially just starting out. Not that you don’t have the talent or ability to do so, just keep in mind that I think this is the route just about every mom who wants to WAH takes, so it’s going to be pretty competitive. I have more ideas/suggestions and other things to tell you, but I’ll put it in email form so I don’t hijack your post 🙂

  3. April 5, 2010 9:35 am

    Hm. I’d say I’m in the begining stages of a one-year-plan myself. I haven’t fully run the numbers, but I have taken baby steps toward minimizing debt/learning to live on less, which feels big. We turned off our cable, consolidated credit cards and have a appointment to look at options for our mortgage. It feels good, a step in the right direction.

    As far as your future craft, I do have an idea for you. I recently paid a lady quite a bit of money to have her make quilts from my late grandfather’s clothes. They are beautiful and worth every cent. She started out with only a few quilters and a friend that worked at a local hospital as contacts, but now has a nice word of mouth network and a fabulous (obviously) reputation. This is a pretty specific idea, I know, but from what little I know of you I think you could really handle the dealing-with-grieving-families aspect with grace.

    I wish you the best, sister wife!

    • April 6, 2010 8:53 am

      Sara I like this idea a lot, but not necessarily as a business plan. It feels somewhat limited and in my mind would take a lot more advertising and effort to appeal to your market than an overall quilting enterprise. Definitely deserves some thought though… thanks!

      But! I really like it on a personal level. I believe there are still some garments belonging to my deceased Grandfather hanging out in a closet somewhere… and I may need to make a date with them.

  4. April 5, 2010 9:43 am

    I have no advice. My H and I both know that we want me to SAH, hopefully by the time we have our next baby in 2 years. But I have no idea how to actually make that happen! I have a few ideas, but I’m not sure how to execute them. The biggest hurdle for us is our mortgage. Any ideas on how to negotiate if you are underwater???

    • April 6, 2010 8:54 am

      myronick have you called your mortgage company? My understanding is that this is the first step because your options really depend on who owns the note.

      Best of luck!

  5. April 5, 2010 11:26 am

    This is so interesting that you wrote this now. Chris and I are in discussions to possibly buy-out our neighbor’s “Paint a POt” store…y’know the ones where you can go in and decorate pottery? Hubs was an art major (specializing in ceramics) in college with a minor in marketing. This biz would allow me to run it with flexibility. It’s something I am dying to do. I’m in sales too, and working weekends is draining.

    I’d be happy to be your support sista in this endeavor. I have plans for a posisble future Etsy shop too. But right now with the job and the baby, I barely have time to craft to make that a reality. Feel free to e-mail me!
    Good luck!

    • April 6, 2010 8:58 am

      Eliza that is SUCH an exciting possibility! I can tell you that once Teva gets a bit bigger, you do start to get some flexibility back, just hang in there. You will craft again, I swear! I sat down and sewed THREE TIMES over the last few days. I KNOW! That’s like, epic stuff, man.

  6. April 5, 2010 12:12 pm

    I, too am contemplating a change within the year. Happiness must come first, especially in these economic times! I recommend reading the 4 hour work week! Very motivational, and helpful to get a plan in place to truly reach your dreams!

    My dream is to own a boutique and write full time.

    • April 6, 2010 9:02 am

      Thanks for the rec! I’ve seen it in stores before but never read it. I shall add to my library list.

      That’s a great dream you have, and sounds like it would be so much fun. Thanks for stopping by and good luck to you!

  7. Adam permalink
    April 6, 2010 11:38 am

    I think this is perhaps the year of the change. I wish I had some advice for you, but really I can only wish you lots of luck. I also believe you and Chris are totally talented enough for anything you put your minds to. Lisa and I are actually both in a position to be looking for new employment, though Lisa still has her job, she, like you, does not want it anymore. She is getting really into dog rescue groups. Keep a smile and a laugh handy, they never go out of style.

    • April 6, 2010 6:04 pm

      Hey man! Thanks for stopping by! What an unexpected and lovely surprise. Yeah it’s going to be really interesting to see how this whole situation shakes out for all of us. Odd that it seems to kind of be happening all at once, but also kind of cool because we can talk about it and understand where everyone’s coming from.

      Love to both of you AND Farley!

  8. April 6, 2010 3:50 pm


    when we made the change to me staying at home, we just jumped. no plan. so, i’m not the best on advising that part. but, i do think that a year is doable. it’s just a season. it’s finite and there’s a finish line. of course, i am not the one who is actually working.

    you know that i am in the trenches of growing my small business. i could write on and on about it. i’ll try not to, but i’ll answer any questions you have if you want to email me. i am torn on the subject of etsy. as someone stated above, it is a very saturated market. it’s hard to be found on etsy and i’ve found that it requires a good deal of work on your part to advertise yourself. that means logos and buttons and sponsorships, which is fine if you want to put all of your eggs in that basket. i find that it’s hard for me to balance. i’ve been most successful at home shows and by word of mouth. my next goal is to step up my wholesaling. basically, i’ve decided to really focus on situations where i can have my products right in front of the buyer. it’s great if it’s a situation (a show or small store) where my story comes in as well.

    on the product/business side: is there some sort of small business nonprofit organization in your area? in my town, we have a small business development corporation that is sponsored by the university here. they offer free lunch sessions once a month where mba students help business owners make business plans, figure out funding and marketing, etc. having a business plan, whether it involves funding (mine didn’t) or not is key. i haven’t had a chance to attend one of the lunches but it’s something i really want to do. as far as what to make, i have to say that i just stumbled into what i’m doing. i made a few things as christmas gifts and it kind of grew from there. maybe start by looking at your favorite stores/retailers/blogs? what are you drawn to?

    well, i didn’t keep my word did i? i have so many more thoughts, so please feel free to email me!

    • April 6, 2010 6:02 pm

      Ellen your reply was perfect, thank you so much! I will definitely email, you are one of the people I’ve always had in the back of my mind who I know is doing “something” with a a handmade product, so I’ve got questions. As always, thanks for your kind words and support!

  9. April 7, 2010 2:26 pm

    Hey Mae,

    (This is Liz Miller, btw, using my son’s login)

    I love the quilting idea! I have a TON of my sons’ sports shirts that I’m saving but they’ll never wear again. I’d like them to be made into quilts for each of them. When I researched it a while back, I only found one website that offered this service and it wasn’t local.

    I’ll send you an email with some ideas.



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