Last summer, around 9pm on a Thursday night a UHaul van pulled into our driveway. A wedding planner hopped out. Her younger sister at her side. She had taken vacation days from her full-time job to come up north for the weekend to plan/execute for her clients. This is really normal for people like us. Her business in its first full season. I laughed thinking about how many times I've dragged Egan or Matt with me to events because when you are just getting started the people who are related to you or chose to marry you become 'free labor.' I helped her get all the flowers they needed from the studio when we got to talking. “I still have a full-time job, so this has been crazy” she said.
“Me too. Don’t worry.”
“WHATTTT!? I had no idea!”
For a really long time, like the past 6 months, I’ve wondered whether or not I would even talk about leaving my full time job. It sort of felt ‘fraudy’ that I had built the company and hadn’t been completely truthful with you. I hadn’t withheld it on purpose, I just hadn’t divulged it. The main reason was our clients. The last thing I wanted, was a client, for one second, to think that I hadn’t delivered because this flower tribe & building the farm wasn’t my full time gig.
Some of our clients knew. Like 3 of them.
But Friday is my last day as a full-time TV reporter. The last 6 years have been so incredibly fulfilling. I started the flower business as a little side hustle. In all honesty, I thought it would sort of just be a hobby. But it really started to satisfy something in me that I didn’t know was there. Then, I realized that in order to reach people & connect with people at the personal level I wanted to, in a positive happy way, I could write on the blog. I could host a lot of dinner parties. I could put time into the Instagram. And it worked.
All I’ve ever really wanted to do was tell stories & bring people together, and flowers & our farm adventure became a medium for me to do so in a way I hadn’t before. I was a part of a story, able to share our story & write a new narrative for us.
2 years ago Matt and I sat in a booth at our favorite place in Cadillac eating breakfast. I cried about wanting to go to flower school. The next day, we took $800 from our savings account (that was a LOT of money for us then, we were swimming in debt & clueless about money & omg typing this stresses me out), opened a business checking account, and Stems & Sprigs was born. I had been working mornings as the live reporter for a morning show called, “Michigan This Morning” for 2 years, the ‘third shift’ schedule allowed me time to work on a website, branding & honing my skills in the afternoons.
When a friend of a friend asked us to do her wedding flowers I nearly fell out of my chair. We had been ‘in business’ for less than a month. Sure! Why not?! We never looked back. Many of you know the story from here, we realized quickly that while Petoskey was the ultimate goal for us as a place to lay our roots for a very long time, the change of location needed to happen sooner than we planned in order to grow the business. So we bought the farm.
Last summer I got really sick of hearing this line “you sound so tired” or “you look so tired” or “oh honey, you have to be so tired.” To say it was insane is sugar coating it. It really began to take a toll on everything, my health, our marriage, my relationships. I was puffy & had bags under my eyes, my back hurt all the freaking time, my shoulders were essentially in my ears and I wasn’t sleeping well. I was eating like shit. We never grocery shopped. I remember when I took 2 days off on a Monday / Tuesday from my reporting job early last fall I slept like a baby, because I had created two days of routine and schedule with flowers & it felt SO WEIRD to only have one job. We went camping in the UP for a few days and I slept 15 hours in a freaking tent with a 90lb Bernese Mountain Dog farting in my face and laying on me, to say my body wanted rest was an understatement.
Taking this leap is by far, one of the scariest things I’ve ever done in my life. Second only to the time I para-sailed in the Straits of Mackinac live on TV, or reported from the top of a wind turbine and my knees were shaking so badly I had to kneel down while on camera, or the time I started choking on venison stew on live TV. We have worked our asses off all winter to prepare for this, budgets and crunching numbers & learning how this will work. And I’m sad too. Sad to leave 9&10 News and the family that I’ve been a part of for 6 years. But you never know unless you try.
I can’t write this without saying one thing; one of the scariest parts of all of this in the beginning was disappointing people. And I hope this rings true to one person out there. I studied Journalism in school. I was hell bent on market jumping and being on CNN and all the things. And then it changed. Am I settling? No. I’m doing what makes me happy. For weeks now I’ve had second thoughts. That stupid little projection of 'thinking people will be disappointed' is really just fear. I don’t want people to think my talents are being wasted. Girl studies to be a television reporter and ends up doing wedding flowers & building a small lavender farm and writing a blog and hosting a lot of dinner parties. But somehow, at the end of my life, I don’t think I am going to think about the liveshots I missed, or hours I spent working, or getting recognized in the grocery store, or the weddings, or the flowers, or the blog, I think I am going to really think about the time I spent with my family. Being there for them in the moments that were so fleeting. Being able to be present, and show them hard work in a way that means running your own company. I’ll think about the people. The time you spend with people you love.
Let's not dance around the elephant in the room, being able to be the boss of two companies, annnddd go on field trips with my kids one day is a motivating factor in this. Matt and I both were lucky enough to have moms who worked from home and had the flexibility to turn on another episode of "Price is Right" when we were sick, be a 'room mom', shuttle us to our gazillion practices and rehearsals and also follow their passions. (THIS IS NOT A PREGNANCY ANNOUNCEMENT CALM DOWN)
The timing in all of this is purposeful. We want to grow the business even more, before we start a family. I want to take some time before the busy season to really put systems in place that will work.
The most interesting part of this for me, is that what I learned I love the MOST about what I do in this world, I learned from tv. Making people happy. Bringing people together. Sharing the story.
I was in Meijer one day checking out with some groceries. It was during the time I was on the live show. And a man tapped me on the shoulder. He waved and smiled. I waved and smiled back. He started signing to me. He was deaf. He drew a tv and then pointed to me. I smiled and nodded. He held a fake microphone and laughed. I laughed. Then, he frantically ran over to his daughter. She was maybe 12. And he began signing to her. She came over and said, “my dad wants to let you know, that he watches you every morning & even though he can’t hear you, you make him so happy because you are always happy and smiling. He says thank you.” I burst into tears.
Making people happy. Making people, for a split second, not think about all the really shitty parts about life. Telling the story.
And oddly enough, it is my time spent as the morning reporter for 9&10 that really showed me what creative entrepreneurship is and how you can create your own life in Northern Michigan and make it. I met SO many amazing business owners, many who are still friends today, who had crazy awesome badass stories of leaving a job to pursue a passion and live up north.
So there you have it. Now that this is my full-time gig, I am able to pursue some projects that have long been tabled. I cannot wait to share them with you. I’ll also probably say the word shit on here a bit more. Other than that, I’m not sure what will change. Its super super weird to work for yourself.
A lot of you knew this was coming, those of you who are closest to me. You’ve sat with me for many glasses of wine as I mulled it all over and told you I was hella scared and that starting your own business is freakishly weird and then it making enough money to fully support yourself is even weirder. But here is what I know, if I don’t take this leap- I’ll always wonder ‘what if?’
Matt, my love. I never lose sight of the fact that a large part of me being able to take this leap is because of you busting your ass on the daily for our family. Thank you for believing in me, in us. Being your teammate is without a doubt, the best part of my life. Thank you for being scared too, but not as scared as I am. Thank you for reminding me that if the sky falls and I suddenly cannot do any of this- I’m still talented at a million other things and ‘we will be fine.’ Thank you for also just getting me when I say things like, “I’m ordering a lighting kit to build a video studio in the dining room.” And thank you for telling me we do not need 80 different colors of ribbon in the floral studio, we need to pay our mortgage.
Maybe you’re reading this and you want to do the same. Leave your ‘real job’ for one that you start up. You want to be able to be your own boss. You want to be able to create your schedule and work for yourself and drive your ship through the shitstorm and the really beautiful parts. .You'll know when its time. Like 2 years ago, while driving home from our first wedding, I was all cocky about leaving and doing flowers full time, it just wasn’t going to work. You’ll get there. I promise. But you need to work two full-time jobs for a while before you can leave one for another. But it will happen a lot faster than you imagine if you want it to. Pro tip: find your 'magic number' and then get there. No matter what it takes.
And so Friday I’ll go to my desk at the 9&10 office and pack up all my things. I’ll go from having 2 cell phones to one. I will most likely take some time off from eyeliner. And Monday I’ll wake up, and work for myself. I’ll be the CEO, CFO, Manager, Team Leader, Janitor, Designer, Bookkeeper, Marketing Dept & more. But really I’ll just be a girl who wanted something different for herself, so she busted her ass to make it happen.
If you’ve got questions, or ideas, or comments, or just want to say ‘wait, you stood on top of a wind turbine on live TV?’ send me an email friend email@example.com I am an open book, and now- even more so.
Thanks for following along, its time for page one to our next chapter. I can’t wait.