With August rolling its head around much quicker than ever imagined, I find myself reflecting the last three years in business— warning cringeworthy moments a-plenty coming up!
When I first launched, what was then known as Mimi & Me Design Co, I will admittedly say that I had absolutely no idea about, a) what I was doing, and b) what I was up against. Excitedly I sat down one Saturday morning while the hubby was at cricket, came up with a name, scribbled down a logo and created a very brief plan of what I was going to do - by plan I mean dot points on a piece of paper that looked like this...
I felt like Steve Jobs, like I just came up with this life changing idea on how I was going to run my life, but unlike the late Jobs, my idea wasn’t as impressive as creating a personal computer, I simply wanted to sell artworks online and make a bit of cash (naturally). Now I haven’t been living under a rock, and I knew that there were numerous avenues for sourcing prints and artwork online, but I thought at my price point and what I was offering that I was rather unique. As I came to realise a mere couple months into my online business, I was not unique, I did not have this amazing, unique plan, I apparently didn’t even have that unique of a name—get ready for the crescendo…
I woke early one morning and excitedly checked my emails (this is back when I would get one single enquiry and pop a bottle of champagne to celebrate). And sitting there was an email from *****@gmail.com. “To whom it may concern, I am the solicitor from *****, please change your logo and your business plan immediately. You have clearly stolen this idea…” I’m paraphrasing here, but you get the drift.
My heart rate increased, I swear my body temperate shot up a couple degrees and I began to freak the f*ck out! What had I done? Had I stolen something? But this idea was mine? This name and logo was mine! After a few minutes of sheer panic, and a phone call to my dad—yep! I calmed down and I finally noticed the elephant in the room, or in this case, the Gmail in the room. What kind of solicitor emails from a gmail account? I may not be street smart, but mate, even I knew that wasn’t right.
I’d like to say that the above event was the end of it all, but because this is my life we’re talking about, it always gets a sh*t load worse before the sun starts to break through the storm clouds. I was abused on social media, I had my Facebook business page slandered, I was absolutely devastated.
After I finally got in contact with the business I had “copied” and everything was resolved, I was left with this pit in my stomach, for a very long time. Every success I had, every change and development in services, every time I took a step forward, mentally I was tearing myself down. I was so paranoid that I must be stepping on someones else’s toes, that somewhere out there in this ever connected world, someone was watching me and thinking, that’s my idea! Every time I saw a post online directed at an anonymous person stealing ideas, I had this feeling in the back of my mind that they were talking about me. I had become an imposter to myself, and it wasn’t a great feeling.
I can’t remember when the feeling dissipated. Excuse the cliche, but I guess time does heal all wounds, and as I find myself now three years doing this whole self employed thing, I’ve developed a thicker skin, I trust my instincts more, I try not to take everything so personally (ok, this I’m still working on) and I stay true to myself. There a very few truly unique ideas out there anymore, and that’s ok! What we do to those ideas, and how we apply them using our own experiences, knowledge and intentions we unknowingly make these ideas our own. I started selling artwork, and then offered graphic design, and most recently interior services, although all those offerings are not unique, my story is. And with that story a style has evolved, through trial and error, through moments of surplus creativity and others of draught, and through times I wanted to give up but hadn’t.
Business can be a pretty shitty and intimidating place, but it can also be beautiful.