When I lost my job of 23 years last October it was the best and worst thing. It didn't take long to figure out that I was happier than I had been in a long time. When my family came home I had a smile on my face (and every once in awhile, dinner on the table). It was also a pretty uncertain time. For the last 33 years I had gotten up everyday and gone to work in some fashion or another. What was the next chapter going to look like? What was I going to do now that I was all grown up? How were we going to pay the mortgage and my health insurance?
For several years I had been making goat milk soap for fun and profit, very part time. Last summer we had our first farmer's market booth and got our first wholesale request. Maybe it was the universe preparing me for things to come. The question still remained , "Now what was I going to do?" I'd wanted to make the farm my business and do it fulltime for as long as I can remember. Here was the universe handing me the opportunity (maybe a little bit abrupt and rude) but, here it was in front of me.
So, I did it. I ramped up the soap business, added some new products, spun lots of yarn, bred the sheep, bred the dog (something we had already planned to do) and hunkered down to do battle as a self employed farmer.
What happened? Folks loved our soap and yarn and bought it, they love the lotion too and the scrubs are starting to catch on. We sold some sheep and have changed the breeds we keep to a more spinner friendly fiber. I took on a few spinning contracts. We had 13 (!) puppies and all have gone on to be wonderful farm and family dogs.
You've seen the meme, you know the one. "When you buy from a small business, you are not helping a CEO buy a 3rd vacation home. You are helping a mom put food on the table, pay rent, a little girl get dance lessons, a little boy get a jersey for his football team."
Well, it's true and I am so grateful to our customers-farmers market, website, Etsy, wholesale and friends and community for supporting us, for being interested in what we're doing, for wanting to come out and visit the farm. You helped our senior go to football and wrestling camp this summer. You helped our 8th grader support her own herd of dairy goats. You helped make it possible for me to take a couple of weeks off to support my mother through hip replacement surgery. You helped me keep faith in a dream and make it a reality! Thanks so much for being a part of this. You really have, you know...
One other really significant thing happened this year. A wonderful CSU student took my business on as her senior leadership/marketing project. The new website and gorgeous pictures are all her. She also helped me articulate a business plan, something I was kind of intimidated about. It was the boost I needed to grow the business. Thanks, Maddie!
The future is always uncertain and we can't know for sure what's coming but I have a plan and I am hopeful. This year has been a wonderful and wild ride. I can hardly wait to see what the next year holds!