HOW I GOT HERE
Posted on July 11 2018
I've been thinking for a long time about what type of blogs I really want to share with you. Yes, we are a fashion company and we LOVE all things pretty and lovely but how did Sweet Lemon come to be?
Its been a long road and not one that will take a short post to answer but moving forward I want to tell my story. I think its important to be real and telling your story can inspire. Maybe you'll feel nothing and that's ok. But it is my story to tell. In return, I love to hear other peoples journeys about where they are or where they have been. Positive, negative...all of it.
I want to start with the obvious. I own Sweet Lemon and opened this company because I am an entrepreneur at heart. I'm one of those crazy people who are consistently coming up with ideas about creation and business. I LOVE Shark Tank! But it also gives me anxiety. It's like work to watch it. Because my mind starts going a million miles an hour in all directions. But Sweet Lemon is not the first business I have owned. I have owned 4 other businesses that all failed. It took 11 years of failed business, heart, sweat and tears and financial depletion before I finally made something work.
BUT, I guess one good quality I have is, GRIT. I don't give up. I never give up. I won't give up. DISCLAIMER: I have a hard time giving myself compliments or positive adjectives to describe myself but I'm working on it. So for now, I give myself the positive word GRIT.
Anyway, before my 4 failed businesses, I worked in city government and was a 911 Dispatcher. I LOVED it. I loved the craziness of it. The adrenaline and the feeling that in some small way I was helping mankind. But it also was very negative, draining and stressful. I eventually left that career and that has a story of its own. I was finally able to stay home with my then 3 little girls and it was the best day of my life. Until I felt something was missing for myself so I started my first failed business as a administrative clerical outsourcing company. It was short lived. It was before internet and fast advertising and my snail mail only landed a few jobs and I didn't know where else to go with it. A few years later I joined up with a multi-level marketing company to sell house to house a product that made that company a lot of money and left me with very few dollars in my pocket, a ton of product and many hours away from my family. I then had a friend and she and I did a TON of research on how to open our own House Party Clothing Business that was popular at the time. It was successful and we were super busy! We were growing our business and we were also doing crazy manual work by carrying bins and bins of clothing, purses and racks into peoples houses and creating a party atmosphere and selling them clothes! It was so much fun and it gave this adrenaline junkie a high and a feeling of accomplishment. It grew so fast people asked why we didn't have a store. So we asked ourselves, yes why don't we have a store? So with many more hours of research and loan applying we opened our storefront in a local mall. At first it was very successful and we dreamed of becoming a national retailer one day. *insert chuckle*. We grew quickly and opened a second brick and mortar store in another local mall. That store was only open 6 months before we realized that we were losing our behinds and we quickly were able to get out of that contract. So we worked hard at what we were good at and continued on until the overhead prices of our store in the mall, paying employee wages and theft (customers and employees) had us working to break even. Not ever paying ourselves and we were gone all the time. So after years, we decided to close up shop and go ONLINE. This was successful in the sense that we branded some products we sold on Amazon and made a lot of money. But that money took a few years to pay off a loan for that brick and mortar store we had opened. We still didn't pay ourselves. It was EXHAUSTING. We were working for nothing for years and it was taking a toll on my business partners and my friendship. We decided to close the business after 6 years. It was sad but I also felt a huge burden lift off my shoulders. And sadly, for reasons unknown to me, our friendship ended with it. It was quiet and nothing was talked about but we just stopped being friends. DISCLAIMER: Don't go into business with your friends.
During this time, I decided to try something new, something different that might help my ever growing family. Or would it? We were broke. We had 5 daughters and after all my failed businesses and time spent away did nothing. We had some medical issues during this time that depleted all our accounts and had to take a HUGE payout from our retirement to pay them off. We had nothing. I remember one time not knowing how we were going to buy toilet paper that week and we had to did for change around the house. WE WERE BROKE BROKE. But loving husband had faith in me. Even after all these failed businesses and all my crazy dreams and ideas, he still believed and supported. He worked overtime all the time but I went to him and asked if he would support one more thing I wanted to try and he agreed. I took exactly $429 from that overtime and started Sweet Lemon. I did A LOT more research about online retail and I bought a very small amount of jewelry, some shipping labels, shipping bags and listed them online. I sold them all. I was still doubtful, it was a fluke. But I poured the profit right back in and bought another item and it sold. And so the story continues and we have been in the business for 4 years now and we a growing and thriving company. I have never had a business loan. I have never paid credit card interest. And it took years again to pay ourselves. Our company is still growing and learning every day to be a better company. I LOVE our customers. I'm not just saying this. I have the VERY best customers. They are so kind and complimentary and I love doing this business because of them.
LONG STORY SHORT. (or not so short). Sweet Lemon is a women's clothing and accessory store who prides ourselves on fresh affordable items for our customers. We named our company Sweet Lemon because I had cancer (did I not mention that?) when I was a single mom of 2 little girls and I made it through. Chemo, radiaion..all of it and when I named this company, I thought that we all have lemons. We all have trials. But we can make them sweet if we are positive. If we have GRIT. Sweet Lemon seemed to fit. Sweet Lemon Boutique.
I love this post! I also opened a boutique and after 8 months, closed it. I faced a lot of debt, disappointment and self-doubt. But I am happy now, with a career in government (sort of opposite of your story) for more than 10 years and I support small businesses. I love all the pieces I have gotten from you and now, I admire you even more for rising above the hardships.