Last month, I wrote a blog post called “Waiting for the Yes.”
In that blog, I talked about recognizing that the “yes” answers sometimes take time, built upon a foundation of taking risks and having courage. I also wrote the following:
But sometimes the “no” answer is necessary. In fact, sometimes even the heartbreak is necessary. After all, isn’t disappointment and heartbreak a testament to the fact that you took a chance, that you chose to try something on and walk around in it for awhile, seeing if it fit you? Like the wrinkles in our faces, a long line of the “no” answers can actually tell a very important story.
I went back and read those words to myself this morning before writing this reflection on my time at Etsy Open Call. (If you’re wondering what Etsy Open Call is, check out my first post about it here.) My own words resonated in my heart.
Because after all of the excitement and planning, after all of the money spent on plane tickets and hotels and shipping and dog/chicken/cat care, after spending days away from our two young sons and Robert taking time off of his day job, and after hours and hours rehearsing my pitch and praying and heart pounding…the answer I received on Tuesday was a kind but persistent, “No.”
The feedback was pretty consistent: they loved the idea, and they loved our mission, but our packaging needed refining. The level of packaging wasn’t yet consistent with the rest of these retailers’ stores.
This is something I knew in my heart going in–but truthfully, we invested a lot of money in the labels we currently have, and they’ve done well at the live events, in online sales, and at smaller boutiques where we’ve sold up to this point. I haven’t had the funds to invest in new packaging, even though I suspected that it would be necessary soon. But the business has grown at a pace faster than even I truly expected, and we’re getting more interest every day. When I got the email in June announcing that we’d been chosen for the Open Call Event, I knew we’d go with what we had and do the best we could.
We talk a lot about honesty on this blog, about calling shadows into the light, and about being brave. So I’m going to be brave and tell you my honest experience at Etsy Open Call.
I was fighting the “You’re Not Good Enough” Demon in my head all day long.
I looked around and saw beautiful, refined packaging on the tables of other sellers. I saw retailers swooning over their work, over the intricacies and the clean lines and the customized boxes. I saw my favorite shop owners anxiously asking other designers about lead times and prices and minimums. I felt wholly inadequate. I knew the value of my product, and I knew that I am good at what I do. But I felt like an amateur in the room that day.
When I talked with each retailer, I knew by looking at their faces that the exterior of my packaging was not adequately conveying the passion and the heart that is infused into every single kit I make, every single blog post I write, and every single customer interaction I have. The experience my customers have is beautiful, but how could I express that better? The overwhelming feedback from these big retailers was that my labels and package decisions needed to be clearer, cleaner, and more consistently branded.
In short…my product just wasn’t ready for the big leagues yet. The answer was “No.” Or, at least…it was a “Not Yet.”
I cried myself to sleep that night. I felt so disappointed in myself–knowing that I couldn’t have done anything differently with the knowledge and resources I had at the time, but still feeling like I had let everyone down. My husband, who worked so hard outside of a full time day job to support this dream. My kids, who pray with me every night to have this business grow so daddy can work from home with us instead of driving an hour away each day to his job. My customers, who have been cheering me on every step of the way and want to see us thrive. And myself, who felt like if only I could have done more, somehow, I could have changed the outcome.
Then…I got a good night’s sleep.
And perhaps after having the flu right before Renegade, then selling all weekend, then a redeye to New York, and then straight into pitching…a good night’s sleep was the best thing for my heart. Sometimes exhaustion can utterly compound disappointment into devastation.
When I woke up, I remembered my own words. Every “no” is an opportunity to build a foundation for the “Yes.” I reviewed all of the notes we took from the retailers’ feedback. I kicked the “You’re Not Good Enough” Demon in the gut and told it to go back home. I thought about how I could transform the “No” into a chance to grow and learn and improve. And I rallied my inner strength. I could do this. I could patiently do what needed to be done to become even better.
Because the real victory to be celebrated here is not a purchase order. As wonderful as that would be, perhaps the real opportunity wasn’t hearing the word “Yes” from a retailer.
Perhaps the real opportunity for “Yes” was the invitation for me to say it.
Yes, I will accept that I cannot be farther along in my path than I am, knowing that I have tried my hardest each step of the way.
Yes, I know that I am doing important work in the world–and even if I’m not reaching the fullest potential of how to spread that message yet, I am working hard to get there. And I will.
Yes, I have room to grow. And that is okay.
Yes, I will learn from the kind advice of those who see a very important, very different perspective than me. I will embrace that opportunity to become better at what I do, and have the courage to accept that I’m still learning.
Yes, I will be open to the chance that maybe today’s no could be tomorrow’s yes, once I am farther along the path of growth and refining.
Yes, I will be proud of myself for having the courage to try. Many applied to be at this event, and I was among the 1% chosen. And that alone is something to feel proud about.
Yes, I am good enough right now. Just as I am. Because I am continually trying to move forward. To make this world better. To help more women see their Beautiful.
Yes. Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes. I accept what I am and where I still am going with open hands.
I’m going to post again tomorrow with fun pictures from our tour of Etsy and a breakdown of the official Open Call Activities…it was really, really, really exciting when all was said and done! So stay tuned for that as well.