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    by Yvonne Leung February 23, 2022

    10 years ago, when I first set out to make my first wooden greeting cards, I birthed a business. I had little idea of where I was going or what the business would become. All I knew was that I wanted to spend my days doing something I cared about. I told myself I’d give it a couple years and see what I would learn before potentially returning to a more “normal” employed way of life. I think I knew I would never want to go back, but it’s hard to leave perceived safety!

    Gifting one of my first cards to my little buddy
    Gifting one of my first cards to my little buddy.

    It’s difficult to compare my expectations with reality. My expectations of what this business should or could be are as subject to change as me and my experience. I think that’s part of the fun and what keeps me interested. :)

    One of my first shows (circa 2013)
    One of my first shows (circa 2013)

    Running the business isn’t as all-consuming now as it was those first few years. Back then, I remember calling the holiday rush “starvation December.” Between holiday shows and a surge in holiday orders, I felt too busy to eat. This may be something many other business owners and makers experience. Thankfully, I’m a bit wiser and more experienced these days and don’t do that to myself anymore — nobody wants to be around a hungry me!

    Our first studio
    Our first studio

    As our team grew, the challenges and responsibilities of running a business shifted entirely. Overwhelmed by the responsibility and frustrated by my limitations, I felt unequipped to be a leader. It took years to realize that leadership and management skills don’t magically appear when you need them and that they require dedicated effort and continual growth. Once I understood this, I began to feel more at ease with my perceived shortcomings. I hope others understand the difficulties that come with running a small business. It’s not as simple as “living the dream” — as wonderful as it can be.

    Our second studio
    Our second studio

    This business has been a steady presence in my life over the last decade. It has accompanied me as I worked for its survival and now as I search for meaning and understanding. It has stretched me, challenged me, and shown me aspects of myself I wouldn’t have seen otherwise. It has also been uncomfortable and sad at times. Being self-employed gave me a false sense of total control or self-determination. It felt like my successes and failures were wholly on me. Yet we are each working in a much larger ecosystem and are all at the mercy of change, uncertainty, and the flow of life. This may be one of the biggest lessons I've learned from owning a business. I’ve hurled myself into facing the unconquerable nature of life. My dream was to be self-employed and have both complete freedom and complete certainty. I wanted it all: control, certainty, security. I’m learning that they’re all an illusion. I'm coming to grips with this and slowly learning to enjoy the ride regardless.

    Despite the many difficulties, I don't have a moment's doubt or regret about my path. I’m so grateful to care about what I do. I’m thankful to have space in my life for the non-business things that mean so much to me. I’m lucky to have had this opportunity to create something. We’ve created heartfelt products, meaningful memories, and a thoughtful business. It’s an honor to be a part of the joy and connection in our dear customers’ lives.

    Our team after a delicious Thanksgiving lunch at our studio in 2021
    Our team after a delicious Thanksgiving lunch at our studio in 2021

    Finally, I'm so grateful for our team members, past and present, who create each and every product and bring everything to life. The team has poured their energy and care into doing their best job for our customers and one another and it's uplifting to see. I'm continuing to learn a lot from everybody and am grateful for all they share. All of these wonderful things are more than I could have imagined when I started out.

    I don't know what the years to come will bring, but I'm trying to trust it anyway. If you're here, you're part of our path. Thank you so much for making the journey this last 10 years both joyful and meaningful.

    Yvonne

    With love and gratitude,
    Yvonne


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