Most of you likely have at least heard of Sheryl Sandberg’s “lean in” concept. Founder of leanin.org, COO at Facebook, and former Google executive, Sandberg’s central theme is that women need to “lean in” more within the workforce — assert themselves more, take greater career risks, challenge themselves, envision a career as a jungle gym, not a ladder…..and resist the urge to please everyone (a never-ending, life-long battle for this chick).
This is definitely something I’ve been struggling with since the day I decided to go into retail and open Jaunt. If there are pressures for working women (and a fair amount of guilt - more on that in a moment), those pressures are magnified for female entrepreneurs.
On the personal side of things, I didn’t have the slightest clue how much work would be involved to get this business off and running. Currently, I (along with Mark, obviously) spend about 10 hours per day minimum working on Jaunt — from talking about brand awareness, to figuring out new marketing tactics, to managing supplier re-ups, to scoping out new artists, to overseeing 15+ custom orders, to handling logistics with our business partners overseas. This is on top of a 35-hour consulting gig that has given me a small financial cushion to inject more money into the shop, and for that I’m eternally grateful….Oh, and then there’s the family…with four tiny kiddos to-boot, and Jingle (the cat).
Since summer has started, I find myself apologizing profusely to my kids for being gone. I’m gone a LOT. This is where the guilt comes in. The Kids Zone is great, b/c they can come into the shop and draw, or help me clean, or stick their noses in the ever-awful iPad…or stamp price tags…but they can’t hang out there for six hours a day when customers are filing in and out. I feel the worst about being gone from my daughter, Violet. I have had a lot of conversations with her lately, in which I try to explain that I’m trying to build a business that we may someday be able to pass down to her. I want her to know that she can be smart as boss, and BE the boss, if that’s the path she chooses. Either she’ll grow up and be proud to have seen this example set for her, or she’s secretly brewing a lifetime of resentment towards me and will need a shrink until she’s 50. But her furniture will be absolutely FABULOUS.
Either way, I have to believe that if I were not feeling this uncomfortable, this nervous, this scared about whether I’ll be able to afford the shop’s rent next month, that I have not leaned in enough. If I’m not nervous, then the stakes aren’t high enough. A few things that have helped me through:
1. An awesome support system of other working women and entrepreneurs (men and women);
2. Some lofty goals; and
3. The realization that I'm incredibly lucky to have this opportunity.
There are massive personal and financial stakes wrapped into this little idea of Jaunt, and maybe in 10 years, I’ll be able to say “I remember when the driveway was crumbling all around us, and the toilet seat in the upstairs bathroom was broken and we couldn’t buy a replacement?.” Until then, I will watch the sun set over our crumbling driveway, and I’ll never understand how a toddler can break not one, but two, toilet seats. Maybe Violet will come with me to Home Depot this time.