I woke up to someone crying and realized it was me. I don’t know what I was dreaming about, but these “episodes” were happening nightly and once I was up, there was no getting me back to sleep. My brain was switched on and I needed a distraction, anything to keep me from ruminating about work.
Instead of forcing myself to sleep, I’d wind up downstairs in front of the television watching black and white reruns of shows made in the ’60s. They helped me think of simpler times before I was dumb enough to start my own business.
It’s tough to be kind to yourself at three in the morning when the rest of the world is sound asleep and you’re wondering where you went wrong. I was exhausted, worried, miserable and stuck.
As an entrepreneur, I’m wired to keep pushing forward regardless of how that route impacts me personally. Great entrepreneurs never give up and success is becoming the next Tesla or Microsoft, right? I mean, no one starts a business to finish small. The goal is to always be making more, selling more and eventually having one of the biggest companies in an industry, isn’t it?
So, what happens when…well…that doesn’t happen? There are thousands of sources out there for anyone who wants to learn how to launch a business, but no one talks about how to end one. In hindsight, I realize I was experiencing “burn out” but to me, it felt like failure and I found myself in a self-destructive pressure cooker.
The night I woke in tears was one of those rare nights Russ, my husband and business partner, woke up too. I looked at him and admitted I just couldn’t keep going. I was stressed out, tired and more burned out than a California fire. I was sinking in negativity and completely incapable of saving myself. Russ knew it too, but like me, he was trying to ignore it. Maybe we were both hoping for a miracle. A big investor to swoop in and save us or a new idea that would pull us back into the game. Whatever we were waiting for it was not going to happen unless something major occurred…
And then COVID hit. The world shut down. Everything just stopped, and suddenly, I could breathe. The pressure was gone. For the first time since starting MAJAMAS EARTH, I felt…weirdly…relieved and in so many ways a lot better off than so many other small business owners. I was grateful to own a little garment line and still have the ability to keep it going.
Getting hit with a pandemic forced ME to scale back and focus on what MAJAMAS EARTH does best…sustainable basics. I guess it took a fast spreading virus to slow me down and give me some much needed, healthy perspective.
Entrepreneurs are always looking for the next step to take, or a new way to scale and grow their business. For years that’s all I did, but when the world stopped, I realized less could be more.
Instead of scrambling to introduce the next best hoodie, maybe making more of the beautiful, organic intimates and lounge wear that got ME started in the first place was the way to go.
We had to scale back, not up. So we left the expensive showroom and moved to a modest office on Chicago’s west side. Now I no longer wake up with my heart racing. No more panic attacks, no more worry, and not half as much stress as I had a year ago.
But COVID has not just changed ME, it has changed everything about Retail as we knew it…
Before a spiky virus dominated the news, retail was already on life support. Dinosaur brick and mortar stores have been on the brink of extinction for years now but continuing to fill them with stuff, stuff and more stuff has become so last year.
We need to face it. Over consumption has created the mess we’re in today; an ocean filled with plastic an atmosphere filled with too much CO2 and a million species on the brink of extinction. We’ve all been consuming too much junk and it’s time to scale it back… NOW!
Just like everyone and everything else, I needed to admit that making more was not the answer. Sometimes bigger is not better.
This sounds so un-entrepreneurial, but I’m proud to be the owner of a tiny, little USA MADE apparel line because making eco-friendly clothes locally and ethically operating on a small scale is much better for ME, and the planet.
Manufacturing garments just to fill up big box stores is an environmental crime. Those days of thumbing thru stacks of t-shirts and jeans folded on tables are over. Mass production must be a thing of the past and every retailer and clothing manufacturer can no longer justify pumping thousands of garments out into the world, hoping people will buy them, because a lot of people won’t. COVID has shown us we must scale back and consume less on so many levels.
Maybe those black and white reruns taught me something after all. Maybe I needed to see that people got along just fine when they all wore the same clothes, episode after episode.
Have you ever noticed that? Sixty years ago no one owned a ton of clothes. They just owned higher quality, better garments that lasted longer.
Suddenly, being the little guy doesn’t seem so bad. I’m proud that we have continued to stick to our values and we continue to make our clothes really well and responsibly even if that means we will never become the Tesla of the apparel world.
Sometimes it takes a major event to force us to face our reality and I am grateful for mine. So many people have suffered and struggled due to COVID and I know we are incredibly lucky to have a little business like MAJAMAS EARTH and the support of our amazing customers. You are why we are still here. You are why I am no longer waking up in tears at night. You get us and you understand our mission. We are truly grateful for that. Thank you, thank you, thank you!
Forward is not always the right direction.
Sometimes the answers come from your past.
Turn around and look at what you’ve created and take the wins from your journey to create the successes of your future.
Most importantly, we must remember that more is not always better.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned in design and one thing we can apply to so many aspects of our lives, it’s that “Less is more. Less is always more…”
– Germaine Caprio, MAJAMAS EARTH Company Owner & Designer
Let ME know:
What past priorities are keeping you motivated during COVID-19?
Please share your own thoughts with us – let’s get a conversation started in the comments below!