About three years ago I had interviewed for a couple waitressing jobs. Rex was nearly a year old and it seemed fair time for me to seek out some kind of supplementary income to help ease the burden of supporting a growing family sitting squarely on Mike's shoulders. Three years before that, I had dropped out of the credential program at Fullerton State college, setting aside my plans to teach english to high school aged kids, after finding out I was pregnant with Arlo. I was scared, and excited and I just knew I couldn't work full time with a new baby on the way, as much of a "surprise" as he was, I understood working a full time job was not what I wanted at that point in my life. We didn't have any kind of backup plan. I worked at Starbucks for a bit in addition to juggling a couple teaching assistant jobs, before finally leaving that aside too, and settling in as a full time stay at home mom. A role that quickly filled itself by having three boys born within four years of one another. A whirwhind that required more of me than I could possibly fathom. But worth every mad, chaotic second of it.
The return to waiting tables was a last resort. I have pages and pages of stories and ugly tales about the serving world and all it's unsaid injustices. It's pretty awful on the whole. The way people treat people when they're out to eat. I would say it literally threatened to wreck my overall faith in humanity at a certain point there. I remember I use to hide in the bathroom to regain composure when things got too bad. I had a hard time biting my tongue when customers were snarky and mean. I couldn't handle "rude" very well. And, I was downright disturbed at how damn neurotic people are when it comes to their food. In short: I was not a good waitress. But, the benefits were there. Working mostly nights, while the kids are sleeping. I figured it was my best bet. Quick money and shorter shifts. I was willing to suck it up and go back because it seemed the only viable option allowing my days to be spent at home and still bring in enough money to help out with our monthly expenses.
When I didn't get the last job. We decided on a whim, the following day, to set up an Etsy shop. We had a few pieces of reclaimed furniture lying around and one teepee Mike had made months prior, for a family photo shoot, that seemed to generate more interest than our actual family in the photos we shared with friends and family. We figured if we could sell even four or five of them a month, we could put money towards utilities. Our goal was 500 bucks a month. If we were lucky.
Fast forward to now: House Inhabit teepees has evolved into a full fledged, thriving "side" business. Orders coming in steadily, month to month since the shop first went up at the end of 2011. Right now I'm sitting in a dinning room lined wall to wall with tall brown boxes, stacked and awaiting shipment. "Santa" gifts that will greet hundreds of bright eyed Children around the country come Christmas morning. It's a great feeling. And an exciting time for those who still adhere to hand crafted quality in products purchased. The fact that we can lean on a well made, simple product, with absolutely no business plan in tow, but that we fully believe in - something we would buy and appreciate for our own children - with a quality that sells itself, when there are now 100+ teepees out there crowding the market, is downright humbling. There is an underlying loyalty that comes with where you put your purchase. One of the things I love most about small business.
We are grateful every day for the support we've experienced in this community. For the ability to work from home, in our own driveway, at the dinning room table during nap time. And continue to make a conscious effort at putting some of our own hard earned dollars towards other small businesses. Be it local brick and mortar, or online, hand made here in the states. Products not built by steel machinery in a giant factory overseas, but in well loved studios, homes and shops around the states. It's made me much more conscious of where and what I buy. And this post is here to kindly remind you to do the same this season when you can.
I will be back later today with a few of my favorite Etsy shops to share for the holidays. Until then, many thanks to those of you who have purchased from us. Please know you are much appreciated.
And please feel free to pass on word of a small business sale happening in shop, today only. 15% OFF ALL TEEPEES by entering the discount code: asmallsaturday at checkout.
With love and gratitude,
M & J