With what felt like the clock ticking, it was time to roll up my sleeves and get to work. I had to figure out how to make money before I ran out of my retirement savings, which I had just cashed in on. This chunk of money was the last reliable option I had to fund my dream full time. We all know that living in San Francisco is not cheap but since I like to think about things differently, I wanted nothing more than to prove to myself that it was possible to live where I wanted to live, doing what I wanted to do.
My vision for S&S felt impossible, how was I to bootstrap a fashion start-up when it’s supposed to look and feel aspirational? So I did what was instinctual to me, I worked so hard that I couldn’t think about anything else.
I grew up in a family of entrepreneurs. Because of that, I instinctively know what dedication, sacrifice and hard work look and feel like. My family is proof to me that owning a successful, self-funded business can be done but not at the expense of physical and emotional labor. The yearning to have my own company has always been strong. At age 14, before the legal working age, I started working at my grandparents hardware store stocking shelves, cleaning the floors and working late nights and weekends to help my aunt with month end billing. And at age 15, I helped my dad scrape and paint houses for a summer. At age 16, I worked at a tanning salon plus the hardware store and still occasionally painted with my dad.
I wanted S&S to make it to year three more than anything. So I leaned on my network and hustled hard to learn and try new things. They helped me experiment with creative ideas and connect me with marketing opportunities to get the word out. You name it, I’ve tried it; pop-ups, lookbooks, interns, giveaways, photoshoots, interviews, podcasts, tradeshows, consignment, wholesale, brand & influencer collaborations. Over time, I’ve learned that nothing changes overnight, it’s all of it together that counts. Showing up everyday is the key ingredient to making shit happen.
Grit is not about how many ideas you have, it’s about the execution. It’s about doing whatever it takes to keep going, whether that’s working 365 days in a row and/or not taking a paycheck. When the money starts to run dry, the question boils down to how bad do you really want this? How long are you willing to dance with uncertainty? And how far will you push yourself to new limits? Nobody can force your commitment to building something, the drive has to come from a place deep from within. A place that even you are surprised of when you meet it.
The momentum I built trying a bunch of different things paid off enough to allow me to scrape by into year three. I wasn’t exactly making money but by being scrappy and saying no to lavish travel and fine dining with friends, I was able to survive another year in San Francisco. And I had officially proved to myself that I had the grit to ride the waves of entrepreneurship. But, I was still left wondering exactly how I was going to build something beautiful with the current skillset and resources I had. Hmm, year 3 of 7 coming soon.