It was this time last year that I shared my decision to close Ivory Bridal's brick-and-mortar doors and build our online presence. Many people questioned it, some thought the business wasn't doing well, and others tried to persuade me as they were certain I was making a terrible mistake. The fact of the matter was there were three personal things going on in my life that kept pulling at my heartstrings daily and I could no longer ignore my desire and had to take the plunge. While away in Las Vegas for my husband's birthday we are on a flight home and I came up with an idea on how I might be able to continue my successful business and bring something new and fresh to the local industry and fill a much needed void.
First let's back up a bit though and touch lightly on the three things pulling on my heartstrings so strongly. As they would have had to be fairly significant to make me want to close something I loved so very much. The first thing we're actually two A&M my beautiful two-year-old (at the time) twins who I was leaving on a daily basis usually with tears in my eyes. I hadn't entered into motherhood thinking I would feel so strongly about wanting to be close to them as much as I did but as every passing day went on I just couldn't bare the idea of having to leave them again the following day. The third thing pulling on my heartstrings was my sweet Dad. For those of you that have followed Ivory for a while now you are probably aware that my dad had ALS. ALS is a life sentence, there is no treatment and there really is no longevity. Therefore each visit is a precious one and you know the next visit his condition is going to be worse. All I wanted to do was spend time with him. I also really wanted my children to spend more time with him as we all knew they had limited months to get to know their Papa and create some memories, have pictures taken, videos made, and moments to share. My Dad was an entrepreneur like myself and had owned and operated a business for many years, (my entire childhood/early adulthood in fact). He helped me become confidant in my decision with IVORY's new direction and he supported me as I gently stumbled along the decision making process. When I finally made the definitive decision and pulled the plug, made the phone calls, told the staff , and did not renew the lease he gave me a big smile and said "now you can enjoy your life, now you can enjoy A&M, and now we can get some real face time in." One of the best conversations we ever had was the one following my final decision. He was so happy that I was going to be around a little bit more and I was. There is one thing in this life you just don't get back and that is time. My sweet-sweet father passed away in August. My soul is still feeling the repercussions of that blow as the loss of this magnitude is indescribable. To all of my friends and family who lost somebody this close to them before me losing my Dad, I am so sorry I didn't hug you tighter, I am so sorry I didn't sympathize more, and I am so sorry that you had to feel this level of pain. I am trying my hardest to live this life for not only me but for him as well now. You just have to move through it or at least that’s what they say.
I closed the storefront down in a matter of four months completing all the special bridal orders we had taken, sold off the racking, some of the furniture, stock I wasn't taking to online, packed everything, cleaned, and said goodbye. Little did I know that was the easy part.
Running an online business is a beast and I mean a beast, not only do you have to have a pretty front end which encompasses pictures, social media, product descriptions, blogging, social media updates, pictures, emailing, pictures, you get the “picture” lol. You also have the back-end to tend to: continuous redesigning of your website, analytic studies, research follow through, product description revisions, trying to reach/find your internet target market, receiving orders, packing orders, shipping orders, tracking orders, and all the while inside this process I have little A&M right by my side who are now 3 and ask an average of 347 questions a day each. I can confidently say it has taken me a solid year to just get the stay-at-home mom thing down. What do you mean I have to figure out what's going to be for dinner every night? Not to mention breakfast, snack, lunch, snack, and now the the grand finale lol. In addition, I really should clean the house get the laundry done, and most importantly and be and play with our kids because that is the whole reason I'm doing this right? Oh my goodness I’m tired just typing all that.
With all that said, "I love it!" I really, really do. I'm getting better at it. I'm learning to ask for help and figuring out the ins and outs of the online world. I am also letting go of my hesitancy to share the behind-the-scenes of my private life and I'm taking care of me, (exercise equals a very happy Michelle). I have so much respect for Moms that work ~be it in an office, in a store, traveling with your jobs, or like me from home. Wherever you are the juggle and struggle is real and I bow down to you all.
At the end of this roller coaster of a transitional year I wouldn't change a thing professionally. I'm so so happy I did what I did as the relationship I have with my kids is incredible for we get to laugh and cry together every day. Their now in preschool which means I have two partial days a week of uninterrupted me time, (have you noticed an increase in productivity?) lol.
I did a soft launch of Loved|Again a few weeks ago and I'm getting a great response. Ladies are loving the idea and the addition of this concept to the business is helping all areas of Ivory grow. I had the idea while I was up in that plane flying home from Vegas just over a year ago staring out the window asking myself “how was I going to make this work?” “What can I do that offers a online service where I can still sell the amazing Canadian made products from my current suppliers to my clientele and be successful?” The current success is very exciting and has so much potential I absolutely love the growing process.
My advice to anyone who is experiencing an inner voice that just won't stop nagging you is you need to stop and listen to it. You have to figure it out because you only get one shot at this and you need to do what's right for you. There is going to be naysayers, there is always going to be the haters but then there's going to be the supporters and those are the ones you hold onto. For they are the ones that are going to be there drinking a glass of champagne when it all works out and you have that big smile on your face because in the end you listened to the most important person in your life you.