To the most incredible customers, employees, friends, and family of all time,
In the fall of 2007, if you would have asked me where I saw myself in 5 years, I would not have said here. At that time, I started envisioning what it might be like to become an entrepreneur, but only in the way a child dreams–setting up her pretend shop after school on a sunny afternoon, inviting her stuffed animals in to look around and pick out their favorite things. I did not see this far ahead and imagine (in any way possible) that this is where I would land.
It was around January 2008 when I was determined to change the course my life was taking. I started buckling down. Many hours of research, learning about business, searching for inspiration for designs, obtaining business-y things (like permits, licenses, merchant services, a credit card machine, a table to work on, tools, materials, time to work on things). All of this while living on a dime. Many of my biggest supporters were the ones who worried the most, yet they (mostly) kept their concerns to themselves. My own feelings of terror and doubt followed by feelings of extreme contentment flooded my emotions on a day to day basis. Many people start these things with good, important things under their belts–experience, education, savings, resources, time. I had little to none of those things. And I don’t say that to gain your sympathy or awe; I only say that to tell my story and hopefully inspire and encourage someone along the way.
We get many inquiries about how to do what we’ve done. It’s funny, but I always feel a bit of panic when I get them…partly because I don’t have the time to give them the attention they deserve and partly because, well…I don’t really know what to say. I don’t have the answers. I think it’s so different from person to person and experience to experience. The one biggest piece of advice I can offer is to ride on perseverance. It takes a HECK of a lot of brushing oneself off, determination and motivation to be an entrepreneur and run a business. In some ways, it gets easier and in some ways, it gets more difficult. But if you are invested and you have serious heart and ambition, you can go far. High and long jumps are a big part of our daily activity.
These things have paid off for us in 5 years and I couldn’t feel more gratitude and love for all that has transpired along the way. From our family and friends’ unending support, to our hardworking employees who blow my mind on a daily basis, to the amazing support of our incredible customers and wholesale accounts, to the wide fuzzy blanket of our Portland creative community. Some of you have been there since day one, some of you have even become some of our dearest friends, some of you we’ve just met, some of you we’ll meet soon—I am in awe of you and how you’ve helped see this thing through. How in the world would we have grown without you??
5 years ago today (March 15th, 2008), I opened my tiny studio to the public after about only one month of research and planning and designing. It was one of the most terrifying and gratifying and humbling experiences of my entire life. My Will was with me from day one (his band even played at my studio opening–in the RAIN, no less) until now when I look back and know I could not have gotten here without him–no way, no how. I sold enough product to make me believe there was a chance that this thing could work. It gave me a fire and even though that has dwindled down to hot embers at times, it has never ever stopped burning and mostly it’s just spread like wildfire.
Today we are a team of 8, about to be 9, and we just decided in our weekly staff meeting that we should go ahead and round it out at 10 (details to come…we need part-time production help, know anyone?)! And we’ve grown from 1 to 2 dog cheerleaders. In our small shop studio, we produce around 90 pieces of jewelry a day for our own shop, our online customers, and the many shops around the world that sell our goods. For the first time since starting betsy & iya we are able to offer health insurance and benefits to ourselves and our full time employees. We clap for each other when someone does something amazing (even just completing a boring task), we share chocolate every Tuesday or Wednesday, we share stories of the amazing customers and vendors who frequent our shop, we celebrate, we work our butts off, and we love what we do.
So, yeah, to answer my own question—there is absolutely no way we could have done this without you. You are the underlying connector, the other side of the magnet, the electric current running through our wires, the cherry and the whipped cream and the icing (AND the side of ice cream), you are the yin to your yang. I always get to this place and I don’t know how to say it the way I really deeply want to say it…similarly to how I just keep repeating the words “I love you” when I really love something. It’s impossible to express it through mere words, it’s impossible for me to explain just how deeply I mean this:
Thank you. Thank you for sticking with us, thank you for believing in us, thank you for being here over these last 5 years. And don’t worry, we’ve got SO MUCH MORE up our sleeves (did you even doubt it for a minute???)!!!
For now we are celebrating with a small, quick sale; but we plan on throwing a big 5-year birthday shebang some time this summer. Look out for that.
There is so much love in my heart for you all.
I’m pretty sure there’s no way you could understand the depths of my appreciation for you. Thank you for everything.
p.s. for the tangible thank you, what are YOU doing from 5:00-5:55 pm PST today??? Word is on the street, betsy & iya is having a RIDICULOUSLY awesome sale.
***Song of the Moment: Oxygen, by Kotogoto*** (this is the song Will wrote for me when we were only dating and I feel like something about it is very relevant today…oxygen).