on changing career paths
I shared a version of this post on my business' blog page and on its correspond Instagram, so I thought I'd share the excerpt here in this space as well.
If you asked me ten years ago if I saw myself running my own business, I would've laughed. When I graduated high school I really thought I was going to be a writer. I worked my way up through the ranks and became the co-editor in chief of my high school newspaper; I threw myself into writing articles, interviewing students, and taking all the journalism and writing classes my high school had to offer. I even wrote my own short story that my teacher at the time told me I should make an effort to get published. I was on track to make a career out of my writing abilities. At the time my uncle wrote for one of the most well known papers in the Pittsburgh area and I was determined to follow in his footsteps, even spending a day shadowing him and meeting some really cool people like Liz Berlin of the band Rusted Root (ever heard the song "Send Me on My Way"? That's her band!) As I started applying to schools later that year, I received a scholarship to The Scripps School at Ohio University, but turned it down to stay closer to home and attend school at the same university as my significant other. After a few journalism courses in college I decided to switch my focus to teaching, got my Bachelor's degree in History, and entered grad school at the University of Pittsburgh to obtain my Master's Degree. After years of teaching in the classroom, I made the risky decision to leave the field altogether and go all in with my business in 2018.
As I have embarked on this journey, I can't help but recall the day of my high school graduation. Senior year I took an entrepreneurship class and I remember creating a business plan for a fictitious fashion boutique. That plan -- and my efforts in that particular class -- earned me the Entrepreneurship Award at graduation, an award that went to ONE person out of HUNDREDS of students in my graduating class. I didn't know anything about the award -- I didn't even know it existed, and certainly didn't know ahead of time that I would be receiving it. I look back and wonder if at that moment it was the universe telling me that this was in fact what I was truly meant to do.
Fast forward to 2016 -- I was desperately looking for a hobby and with the holiday season fast approaching, I was completely stressed out about giving gifts to my coworkers on a small teacher salary. I started with candles and enjoyed the process of creating different non-toxic scents, but it wasn't until I found soap and scrub making that I really felt like I fell in love. I remember standing in my kitchen, on the phone with my significant other, telling him I thought this could actually be something more than just a thing I did for fun. My ability to handcraft bath and body products quickly traveled by word of mouth and soon turned into its own little business. I knew right away that I wanted to call my brand "Lotus Soap Shop" inspired by a lotus flower tattoo I had gotten just months before.
Soon people started hearing about what I could do and asked me if I had business cards or a website. At the time I didn't have either of those things, so I created a Facebook page and my significant other surprised me one night and presented me with my very first stack of business cards he had made for me. The shop made its official debut to the public in the fall of 2017 and has continued to evolve and grow ever since. As a lover of essential oils and natural products, I created Lotus Soap Shop with the intent to provide affordable, yet quality natural bath products for consumers -- something I felt I struggled to find when shopping at the store. All products contain high quality natural ingredients and therapeutic grade essential oils. It is my mission to provide products that are truly natural and free of toxic chemicals, artificial fragrances, and complicated ingredients. I aim to provide customers with products containing minimal ingredients, which are listed on every product so consumers know exactly what they are applying to their bodies. I make all items by hand in small batches.
Lotus Soap Shop is currently located near Pittsburgh, PA and is in several stores in the area and growing.
It's funny because as I read over that excerpt again and again, I feel like the writer I once was, the writer I had always longed to be, never fully left. She's been here this whole time, I just lost her for a little while. When I started going to grad school and then teaching at the elementary level, I let my writing go. I tried starting blogs here and there, but felt like I was always trying so hard to fit into a specific niche. First it was a blog about being frugal in college (which I totally wasn't -- and it was filled with failed DIYs), then it was a blog geared more towards beauty. I even played around with YouTube for a while, making videos about makeup, reviewing products, and doing all kinds of tutorials. I fell in love with the creative aspect of that work, and even built up a substantial following from it, but I got bored after awhile and makeup wasn't something that interested me anymore. I didn't have the money to keep up with others in the industry, so I let it go.
Once I started shifting my focus to fitness, I started to feel like I could write again. So third times a charm -- I set out to start yet another blog. But still my focus was too narrow. I felt inauthentic. I felt like it was forced. I was uninspired and avoided keeping up with posts because I didn't like what I was writing about. I was again trying to fit into a mold that was suffocating me. There wasn't much room for creativity there. I grabbed my domain name but it wasn't until just a few weeks ago that I felt like I could start my fourth -- and hopefully last -- attempt at blogging. But this time I'm not going to categorize myself or my blog as one thing or another. Even calling myself a "lifestyle blogger" makes me cringe a bit. I know the smart thing to do these days is niche down into a very specific area of focus to help drive traffic, build a brand, and grow a loyal following. This time I'm not worried about that and just doing it simply because I want to and need to.
I've missed the cathartic experience of writing. So badly. It's really the only way for me to relieve the pressure from all the things -- general thoughts, emotions, worries, excitement -- swirling around in my brain. Writing is like breathing; necessary to live, and almost necessary to stay sane. With quitting my job and going full time in my business, this is a way for me to escape for a little while when I need a mental break from my new entrepreneurial life. I absolutely love having my own business but it can be incredibly stressful at times, and this is my outlet.
So screw the niche. Screw feeling pressured to post every day, or every other day. Screw comparing myself to other bloggers. Screw it all. I'm not exactly sure what to tell you you'll find here, if you find this space at all. This is just my little corner of the world where I can go to find some peace...and if you're here, maybe you will too.