Collections and Websites and Wholesale, Oh My!

 

 

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Chalice Earrings – New for Spring 2017

Things are about to get real here at Door 44 Jewelry! I have a full year of sales under my belt, and I somehow managed to exceed my wildest expectations for my first year in business. That said, 2016 was a particularly challenging year for my family. It was a year of financial instability and uncertainty for we three Reamys. My husband was out of work twice last year, through no fault of his own. It’s just the nature of his business. Sometimes one contract ends before the next one is lined up, and sometimes it takes longer to line up the next gig than we expect.

 

We were without an income for four of the last thirteen months as a result of two such incidents of poor timing, and that made me realize how vulnerable we are as a single income household. So, what’s a busy mom with an even busier 6th grader to do?

I considered going back to work full time, naturally, but there are a multitude of reasons why that’s a less than ideal solution for our family. What really needs to happen, I decided, is that it’s time to level up my jewelry business to a point where it replaces my former salary as a project manager in the tech sector. Last year when I launched Door 44 Jewelry, that felt like a pipe dream. Today it feels totally doable, and I’m going for it.

I kicked off this year by participating in the 2017 Jewelry Brand Makeover Bootcamp hosted by Flourish & Thrive Academy, and what an eye-opener that was. I learned more about growing a jewelry business in that 10-day Bootcamp than I learned in an entire year of promoting my Etsy shop. The biggest revelation for me, though, is how much I’ve yet to learn. So, I’ll be dedicating the next eight weeks to a more in-depth Flourish & Thrive Academy course called Laying the Foundation.

I’ve always suspected that I would ultimately end up working for myself someday. It’s not that I don’t play well with others. I do, when I’m on the right team. It’s finding that team that’s been a constant source of struggle for me in the corporate world. Too few companies are willing to do the right things for the right reasons. Corporate America is plagued with incompetent and unethical management, and the situation has only gotten worse since I joined the workforce as a young woman. I made a lot of money for some of my former employers through the years, but for all that hard work, I have little to show for it. I was never the prime beneficiary of my own effort, but that’s about to change.

That 10-day Jewelry Brand Makeover Bootcamp showed me that it is completely within my own power to turn my love of jewelry into a lucrative business that will benefit my family in ways I’d only dreamed of until now. It’s high time that my family and I become the direct beneficiaries of my hard work.

You can expect to see a lot of changes behind Door 44 soon. You may have already noticed some changes, but there is so much more to come. I see now how I can leverage my background in manufacturing and production management to produce more jewelry more efficiently so I can sell wholesale to my favorite boutiques and galleries around the country–maybe even around the globe! I see how I can leverage my project management

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Twig Earrings with Picasso Czech Glass – New for Spring 2017

experience and my accounting education to set up scalable and sustainable business systems that will make my business run like a finely tuned machine. I see how I can tap into my web development and copy writing experience to build an engaging web presence for my jewelry, and I can’t wait to showcase the new collections I’m currently developing on the new website I’ll be building in February as I work through the Laying the Foundation course.

 

2017 is the year that I stop dreaming and start making those dreams my reality. I hope you’ll stay along for the ride because it’s going to be a lot of fun. A lot of work, yes, but it’s the kind of work that I can fully get behind because, for the first time in my working life, I’m totally free to do it my way.

Why should the shareholders of some nameless, faceless corporation be the ones to benefit from your blood, sweat, and tears? Life is much too short for that nonsense. Do something you love, and do it well so you’re the one who reaps those rewards.

 

 

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Whiplash

Change is good, right? Change means growth. Progress. New directions, perhaps?

When I was young and single, I was also fairly driven and focused. I set goals, and I went after them. When one goal was achieved, I set another one and went after it with a single-minded ferocity unique to those who are responsible only for themselves. The operative word here, of course, is “I”.

It’s easy to be goal oriented and focused when you’re the center of your own universe. Add a husband and daughter to that equation, however, and all that drive has to soften. The focus expands to a broader perspective. The single-minded ferocity gets redirected from personal interests to family interests. And personal goals? Well, they get prioritized along with everyone else’s.

It’s been three months since my last post. When I wrote that post, I believed wholeheartedly that I’d have my real estate license by now, and I’d be working full time in sales. It was easily an attainable goal, until it wasn’t. By the end of November, it was clear that my husband needed to find a new job soon. On Christmas day, we got a huge wake-up call in the form of a major medical event on my side of the family. By the second week of January, the instability at my husband’s workplace came to a head, and we went from a single income to no income at all.

Dead end. Time to change directions.

Matt found a new job quickly. He started today, as a matter of fact, so he was unemployed for just one month. We did what we could to make the best of the situation. We tightened our budget and prepared ourselves for what could have been an extended period without a steady income. The fact that he was home during the day and able to shuttle our daughter back and forth to school between job interviews gave me an unexpected opportunity to spend a few precious days with my best friend, Jenn, before she moves to Reno, Nevada this month. As an added bonus, the eleven hours of solitude I had during the drive to and from Jenn’s current address in Kansas gave me a welcome opportunity to think, refocus, and reprioritize.

Real estate is my dream job, but unfortunately, it’s also a job for which you have to spend money to make money. The loss of Matt’s income made me realize that we’re not quite in a place where we can comfortably afford to finance the pursuit of my dream job. We have more important objectives to meet first.

So, the dream job is on hold for now. Losing our sole income, even if only briefly, made it clear that what we really need is multiple streams of income. The steadier, the better. Real estate hardly fits the bill as it provides sporadic income at best in the first year, yet the expenses are both immediate and steady.

Another change of direction.

I’ve resisted selling my jewelry for as long as I’ve been making it, but desperate times call for drastic measures: Door 44 Jewelry was launched on January 28th. I’ve also resisted going back to my old line of work, but there are times to do what you want to do, and there are times to do what you must.

Let’s see where this new road leads…

 

Going After the Dream Job

I don’t remember exactly when or how my love affair with houses began. Was it when I attended my first Parade of Homes with my mom when I was ten? Or was it when I bought my first house at twenty-three? Perhaps it started even earlier. After all, I grew up in a small town with some pretty spectacular old homes and architecturally significant buildings.

Whenever it started, it’s grown into a personal passion with very deep roots. Houses are infinitely fascinating to me because they say so much about the people who inhabit them. Materialistic people live in ostentatious homes. Humble people live in modest homes. Warmth and love are palpable in the homes of the kindest souls. A good interior designer can make any house look beautiful on the surface, but she can’t infuse a loveless home with warmth.

Being a life-long student of interpersonal relationships, I suppose it’s only natural that I’d be drawn to residential real estate. The truth of the matter is that I’ve wanted to be a real estate broker since I bought my first house nearly twenty-five years ago. Having been single for all but the last two of those years, however, I never felt secure enough financially to make the leap from a corporate job with a steady paycheck and benefits to being self-employed and wholly dependent on the feast-or-famine nature of a commission-based income.

Timing is everything, though, and the time is finally right for me to go after my dream job. Thanks to my incredibly supportive husband, Matt, I’ll soon be a licensed real estate broker.

I’ll be wholly focused on preparing for my licensing exams over the next few weeks, so you may not hear much from me between now and the end of the year. Once I do get my license, however, I look forward to sharing my experience with you.

Wish me luck!

Real Estate Nightmares

My husband and I are shopping for a house. We’ve been living in Lakewood, CO for a little over a year now, and the more familiar we become with the Denver metro area, the more we appreciate our current location. We have easy access to a fabulous green belt and miles of both paved and single-track bike trails. We’re close enough to downtown Denver and the tech center that my husband’s commute to work isn’t intolerable. Yet we’re far enough removed from the rat race that we don’t feel suffocated by humanity (or the lack thereof, as anyone who has ever been stuck in Denver’s rush hour traffic can attest). We have easy access to everything we need in terms of shopping; and perhaps most importantly, our daughter loves her school.

Given our satisfaction with our current locale and the outrageous rents in our area, buying a house makes good financial sense. Finding the right house for our family and lifestyle, however, is proving to be a bit of a challenge. Fortunately, we’re not in any hurry to find the perfect home. In fact, we’re really sort of enjoying taking our sweet time.

I’ve always been fascinated with houses—so much so that I’m pretty sure I’m meant to be a realtor, interior designer, or general contractor. I’ve bought and sold three homes thus far, and I enjoyed the process each time. It helps, I’m sure, that all three purchases and sales went off without a hitch. I’ve heard plenty of real estate nightmares from friends in the industry through the years, but I’ve yet to actually experience one first hand. I suspect that’s because I go into the process with my eyes wide open.

After owning and remodeling three very different homes (one old, one new(ish), and one mobile), I’ve learned a great deal about evaluating real estate. I know the subtle signs that can indicate hidden mechanical or structural problems. I immediately recognize the difference between professional craftsmanship and that of a weekend warrior. I know which changes can be easily and cost-effectively made versus those that can be prohibitively expensive. Basically, I can look past the cosmetics of a house (good or bad) to determine whether a house has good bones and is priced appropriately.

It wasn’t until my husband and I started looking at houses that I realized how much I’ve taken those skills for granted. We’ve had a couple of run-ins with real estate “investors” lately that are at once amusing and horrifying. Both investors took novel approaches to flipping homes in our neighborhood. I like to call it the ‘lipstick on a pig’ principle. They invested their entire project budget in cosmetics and blatantly neglected to address some of the most basic structural, mechanical, and local concerns.

Not surprisingly, neither investor managed to get anywhere near the original asking price. In fact, one of those homes is still on the market, and I suspect it will be for quite some time. The price on that particular house has been dropped more than $60,000 since we first walked through it, and it’s still priced a good $120,000 over the average sale price for the neighborhood.

Sadly, both homes will eventually be occupied by someone who failed to see past the sleek cosmetics to the crumbling bones or the fact that their dream house is grossly overpriced for the neighborhood. Those poor buyers will undoubtedly pay too much for a house that is only going to cost them even more money when the deferred maintenance disguised by new flooring and fresh paint finally reaches a critical breaking point. Or worse, they’ll find themselves upside down in a house that won’t gain a penny of equity unless they intend to live there for twenty years or more.

There’s a common belief among the fix-n-flip types that haphazardly installing new flooring, stainless steel appliances, granite counter tops, and a fresh coat of paint is all that’s necessary to fool most buyers into overpaying for a house. Add that belief to the willingness of certain unethical or inexperienced appraisers to grossly overvalue houses, introduce an inexperienced or naive buyer to the mix, and you have all the ingredients necessary for that buyer’s downfall.

Perhaps it’s because I’m a mom now, but I can’t help feeling a certain degree of maternal protectiveness for all the young and inexperienced home buyers out there. I’ve toyed with the idea of getting into real estate sales for years, but I’ve never been fully committed to making such a dramatic career change. For every bad fix-n-flip I see, however, I feel a greater sense of urgency to educate and protect young buyers from making terrible mistakes. I can only imagine how many other poorly flipped houses are lurking in other parts of the city, just waiting for an unsuspecting buyer to stumble into the fiscally fatal trap of the real estate nightmare.