What a year it's been.
It's true what they say: starting a business is a hell of a lotta work. You're not going to get paid for the extra hours you put in, you're going to feel like it's going to break you, and you'll wonder if you're crazy for ever starting it.
We've felt and experienced all of these things and more this past year, and we wanted to share a little behind the scenes and what we've learned...as well as the direction we're slowly heading.
What we've learned:
- Renovating an Airstream for yourself, even on a time crunch (been there...now three times), is nothing like renovating for a client and running a business at the same time. Ordering, design decisions with clients, client budgeting, and the renovation itself all have to happen during business hours and simultaneously. You may know what the right product is, but it's ultimately the client's decision. On top of that, we're answering emails, updating a website, trying to stay on top of social media, doing accounting/bookkeeping, having meetings, scheduling, working with consultants and designers...the list goes on. And that's just work. That's not our personal life (wait...what's that?). There's a lot more stress when the deadlines for the next two years of renovations are stretching out before you like dominos...knock over one and the entire thing's going down.
- We've had some really shit moments this past year and honestly wondered if we can hack this. Traveling to our renovations means we're living on our clients' turf: we don't have separation from work. We also live in an Airstream ourselves, which...for those of you who also live in a tiny wheeled home can attest, is more work than living in something sticks and bricks - no sewage system is carting away our waste. We have a portable grey tank and a composting toilet - dealing with it ourselves, along with the constant cleaning and dishes doing (we only have so many)...felt like more work on top of more work on top of more work. We felt at more than one interval that we had too much going on - which is absolutely true. You know how some people say they are so busy during a small talk conversation, but then you see them at the water cooler after the weekend and they spent the entire thing lounging around, hitting up the farmers' market, and brunching? Yeah. We're not those people - when we say we're busy, it's not a small talk response.
- We need a team. We need to delegate. If we want to continue working at this level, we need more hands on deck. Unfortunately, we're not there yet financially or physically. We would need to have a stationary location and hire some folks who live nearby (or are willing to relocate). We can't - and don't have to - do it all. We get a lot of messages that we're inspiring because we do (it all), but let us be honest: it's not possible and it's NOT worth it. We aren't going to keep sacrificing personal time/family time and be constantly burnt out to be "inspiring". That shouldn't be inspiring! Women who kick ass, sure, while loving their family and kid first and foremost - that should. Taking on too much isn't.
- We don't know what we're doing, but we do. We don't have business degrees. We aren't contractors. We don't use AutoCAD, we sketch on paper and communicate our ideas through words and conversation. What we do know is that we're passionate and hard-working and we now have experience. We are prepping to start our sixth renovation in less than four years. We believe in living tiny. We believe in traveling and what it can do for human beings, and how these things can bring experiences and awareness and truth and shift our perspectives on life and the human condition. The clients we work with will understand that - and want that. They have, and do. They understand that our work isn't an exact science, or at least, not the way we do it. What they get in the end, however, is a space that's built well, that reflects who they are, and is special because there's a lot of love and passion and hard work that went into it.
- This year, we've got some things in the works for you. We've been working with a fantastic team to develop ideas on how to grow, how to give back, and where to go next. We want to keep this stuff under wraps for now - but it's coming and soon! We promise. It's been hard to find balance and keep ourselves connected and involved with everyone out there and you know, keep our heads above water, but we're sure trying. We hope this helps.
- We know we want to keep living tiny and if we can, traveling at least part of the year. We're not really sure how that's going to happen yet! We're booked for the remainder of this year and have a looooong wait list for the subsequent years, and we're in full planning mode all the time. While riveting, we're thinking about it. While driving to visit family, we're talking about it. Over dinner, before bed, over coffee. Every single spare minute is spent discussing how to expand and grow and be better and offer more.
Mostly, we want to say thank you. Thank you to the people who believe in us, who support us, who care deeply and genuinely for us. To our families, who understand that we're building something and that it takes more time than any of us would like. To our friends (you know who you are!), who bluntly told us we needed to do this, that we were too talented to work for someone else the rest of our lives and to quit wasting time doing so. To our clients, who are trusting us to build and design for them. To all of you out there who send encouraging messages and continue to follow along - thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
Here's to a beautiful, challenging, crazy, wonderful first year under our belts, and to year two beginning!