When you were little, did you ever dream about what you would be when you grew up? Maybe you wanted to be a doctor? Teacher? I wanted to be a dentist who owned a candy store. I didn’t realize it at the time, but whoa, how brilliantly evil is that?
My dad worked for a candy company when I was little and would come home with candy, which I would sell to the kids on their way to school. They had to pass my house on their walks. I made some money and bought Barbies with my new-found wealth. I loved having my little store, it made me feel important. We moved soon thereafter and my little table with the makeshift sign became a memory.
The feeling of working for myself stayed with me as I grew older. In the summer of 5th grade, I would go door to door in my neighborhood selling wind chimes that would be sent from Hawaii from my aunt. She encouraged my entrepreneurial spirit and would send me boxes of earrings, wind chimes and small toys. Door to door I went, and learned that a scrawny girl with a mop of bad hair thrilled on sales. In the winters, my brothers and I would go door to door on snowy nights and offer to shovel driveways for $5-$8. One snowy night, we earned $40! We were so proud of ourselves. Hot and sweaty, nothing beat the feeling of hard work and success. Life went on and I continued to work. As a paper girl when I was 12, followed by my first “real” job working as a waitress at Hawthorn Lakes, a retirement community where I could bike or walk to work, earning $4.50/hr all the way to environmental sales in downtown Chicago.
In 2012, the opportunity to work for myself came to fruition once more. One of the lights of my life was born needing life saving surgery when she was 3 days old. It was the scariest time in our lives. As she recovered at the children’s hospital, perspective kicked in, reminding me that life is short and needs to be grabbed by the horns. No one is going to give you anything. It must be worked for, fought for, earned. As I saw half of my heart struggle to survive, because that is all that she knew to do, I decided then and there that I would make my kids proud.
I went back to my corporate job after she was home from the hospital and with my perspective changed, my career didn’t challenge me anymore. I decided to open up a kids boutique as I was struggling to find cute, hipsterish boy clothes in Chicago. The thought stayed in the back of my mind. Slowly, I worked on my business plan and got stuck. Was it what I really wanted to do?
The motivational kick in the pants came a few months later. After a visit with her surgeon, it was determined that she was going back to the operating room, probably by January. However, after our surgeon talked it over with the surgery team, it was decided that she was going to have surgery as soon as possible, in 1 week! Things moved at a rapid pace and so slowly at the same time. This time, surgery took longer than expected due to some complications.....I was numb. In the recovery room, waiting for her to come out of anasthesia, I decided that I would do what it took to get out of the rat race. Life is too short and fragile.
I toured Lincoln Square the weekend after she got out of the hospital. I found an empty storefront in the middle of the square, called the number and signed a lease within 48 hours. Everything moved at 100mph. I gave my 2 weeks notice at work all at the same time as I was ordering inventory, painting walls, deciding the boutique’s name, getting the space up to code, putting up shelves, buying a POS system, setting up phone, internet, meeting my retail neighbors, designing a website, coming up with a logo, getting my sign and when I finished that business proposal, I obtained my business loan. I had 4 weeks to get my store open so as not to miss holiday sales.....and I did it! With the help of my kids, my husband and family my dreams were coming true!
I can hardly believe that day was 6 years ago, just thinking about it brings pride bursting out of my chest. So many dear friends and family came to support me that first day all through the last day of the closing of my brick and mortar retail boutique 2 years later. Now, with a lot of work and perseverence, my online business is a success. I’ve made countless friends through this journey and made such incredible relationships all throughout the country. I am so thankful for each and everyone who has shopped and supported this small dream of mine. And although I’m not a dentist selling candy, I think a mom with her own kids boutique comes pretty close to achieving the dream of that 5 year old little girl!
I thank you from the bottom of my heart and here’s to many more years!