Tuesday, October 20, 2009

It's Time to Tell You


If you have read my blog over the past several months, you may have heard me refer to a "big business project." At long last, it is time to share it with you!

Before I jump right in, let me provide some context. Havelock Ellis wrote that “the art of living lies in a fine mingling of letting go and holding on.” This is the essence of how I stopped teaching college writing to be in the "bootie biz" full-time. I started selling shoes a little over a year and a half ago. This expedition began purely by accident. On a road trip, I handmade a small pair of baby shoes for Mia to pass the time. Several people told me I should sell them, which I found comical. After all, who really makes shoes for a living? Even so, one particularly insistent friend, Tasha {who took the picture above} told me about Etsy. "It's 20 cents!" she insisted, "You have nothing to lose!" Thus, I listed my little handmade shoes--for whimsy, for a laugh, for fun. It wasn't long before I had sold a fair number, including several wholesale orders to boutiques. I quickly realized that a hand made business was time-consuming indeed. Around two months into my tiny business venture, I was working into the wee hours of the night finishing an order. I wasn't charging enough for my items then, I had a colicky infant, and I felt tired, frustrated, and burned out. I thought and prayed and came to the conclusion that it was time to close shop. The next day a series of events happened that completely changed that course.

The celebrity boutique who bought my shoes called me the next day to ask if they could feature them in Instyle Magazine. Shortly after my conversation with them, I was contacted by a distributing company that wanted to purchase from me: quantities of 300-400 pairs every other month. If that wasn't enough, a sales rep emailed me about integrating my shoes into her portfolio and taking them to market. I was stunned, and I also realized God was trying to get my attention. That's when I laid down on my bed and listened. In those moments God poured a vision into me regarding my simple little shoes. I won't tell you all the intricate details, but the word I heard loud and clear was grow.

And that is when my journey with a manufacturer began. One year, thousands of emails, hundreds of phone calls, and dozens of shoes samples later, and I finally have product coming in! I have received many inquires about the fuzzy boots, Hansel and Gretel, and those will be my first outsourced items arriving in November. I found a wonderful company to make a boutique line of carefully hand-crafted shoes for me. It has been a long, frustrating, exhilarating, and interesting journey. I will have additional posts coming with details about the boots and pre-order discounts. I only have a few hundred coming. I know that might sound like a lot, but almost a third of the order is already sold.

So, friends, I thank you so much for your encouragement and support in this entrepreneurial journey, and I look forward to sharing new details of my business as its direction unfolds.

"Whatever you can do or dream,
you can begin it.
Boldness has genius, magic and power in it.
Begin it now." ~Goethe

Encouragement and blessings to you!

41 comments:

Amy said...

pre order of those boots please- evy must have some :) so excited! xoxo

Amy said...

I meant so excited FOR YOU {and to get the boots as well}, sorry, typing while nursing never works haha

Alisha said...

First let me say Mia looks absolutely adorable in this photo.
Jessica ~ I am very excited for you, what a wonderful accomplishment. God has blessed you with a amazing talent that you can share with some many.
I would love a pair of the Hansel boots for Jude :)

Kasey said...

i am so excited for you...
wow.
and you should come...consider it a busniess trip..just for one night...really. {i only have a few more spots left}.
xoxo

ClothesMinded said...

How exciting!
Sending prayers and postive thoughts your way during this new venture (and really, adventure)!

Heather said...

Congrats - isn't wondeful to know that God has a plan for us all - we just have to be able to listen. All the best in your new venture.

LaDawn D said...

Woo Hoo!! Good for you Jess. It is wonderful to hear that you are going to be able to expand your AMAZING business. And at the risk of sounding like a mother "I am really proud of your accomplishments." Just having a chance to say: I used to post on her blog BEFORE she went to Paris fashion week:) tee hee....Seriously though, I know that all of your friends here are hoping this means a little relief for you in your day to day life! I will continue to pray for you in your new ventures, but I think you have already shown what a success you are. I am truly elated for you!!!

PS-I too want to pre-order a pair of Grettel boots, so keep us posted on when you are ready to tackle that avenue. (have been waiting for them since the day I found your etsy site and went stalking through your previous sales)

LaDawn D said...

I forgot to mention that when the pic of Mia loaded I just melted! Seriously, she is such a beautiful little girl...how do you ever manage to tell he no??

seg said...

Congratulations Jessica! I am so thrilled for you! You are truly blessed!

Rocio said...

Congratulations on your new business venture! It must be so exciting to see what God has in store for you. I wish you many years of success!!!

I too have been stalking you since I found you just a few months ago...but I'm hooked! When the Grettel boots come to fruition, I'd love a pair for my little fashionista!

Jenny said...

Congratulations...you make a tremendous product!

Meredith said...

YAY I am so excited for you! I just recently received a pair of your beautiful shoes and it was love (obsession) at first sight. I would be so lucky to get to order a pair of the fuzzy boots or even just to get my hands on anything you make because it's all just amazing. Congrats!

Tasha said...

i cannot wait.. mia joie is only just beginning me thinks. i think the opportunities are endless at this point in the venture. :)
im sorry some days that i suggested etsy.. and glad most days. i am sorry on the days that you are overwhelmed and tired. but happy on days like today when you have this huge light at the end of your tunnel.
congrats.

Whimsical Creations said...

WOOT WOOT!! I am so excited for you! Congrats!

Meredith said...

Oh Jessica! Congratulations! You are a trooper to have the stickwithitness and I'm so happy the bigger plan is all coming together for you :D

The photo of Mia is fantastic, though I suspect you could put kleenex boxes on her feet and your girlie would sell them with her overwhelming cuteness (helped just a smidge by your photo taking/editing skills ;) )

And I have to put in a request for the Gretel boots, please please please. They were the first shoes I bought from you on Etsy and I loved them and loved them on Bronwyn. Can I possibly request an email from you regarding how I can pre-order, sizes, price etc. (meredith.blunt@gmail.com).

The best of best luck with this new venture!

Jessica Haley said...

Thanks so much for all your encouragement! It is definitely an exciting change for Mia Joie. In response to a few comments-->

PREORDERS
I will take pre-orders via the launch of my website. I will blog about it in plenty of time to prepare you. Per the boots themselves, they are quite different from how I made them a year ago. While they are still soft soled, the body of the shoe is stiffer, they have no exposed seams, and the outsole is much more durable and can handle pavement better than my current soles. Both shoes will be available in size 1-7. Because my inventory is always so finite, I really can't say how quickly they will sell.

Per Tasha's "light at the end of the tunnel comment" :) I plan to transition gradually from handmade to manufactured product. I anticipate there being at least 6 months of overlap. My eventual goal is to only sell my handmade samples and perhaps occassional handmade accessories on Etsy. Eventually, though, I want to outsource 100% of my products, so I can focus on designing and business/customer relationships, which is where my passion lies.

I do have quite a few handmade Hansel and Gretel boots that were necessary in the design process. I might offer those on Etsy.

As for Mia, it IS hard to say no to her. She isn't normally allowed to play in my studio. However, she brought in all her favorite books, piled the throw pillows, plopped herself on the red velvet chase, and proclaimed, "I'm going to sleep RIGHT HERE." How could I say no? ;)

Jewllori by Lori said...

First words to my mind....HOLY CRAP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

That's amazing!!! Congratulations, I can't believe you've had to sit quiet for so long on this, you must have been bursting! I'm so happy for you Jessica. Congratulations a thousand times over, and best of luck on this new journey :)

Lori

Wendy said...

Congratulations! You deserve it because your work is beautiful and so unique!

Mande said...

YAY! Jessica this is sooo exciting. I have not been on here for a few days due to my mac crashing! Having to use mom's computer for the time being. WOW! This is just so wonderful. I am definitely pre-ordering these amazing Gretel booties. Love them, love you!

Prencie said...

WOW! I'm so excited about this wonderful opportunity that has come your way! I've been out of the loop for several days, was at furniture market in North Carolina. I was worried about what I would be missing out on while away. So happy for you! I would also love to get my hands on a pair of Gretal boots!!

Lori said...

God is good! And I'm thrilled to see how He is working through you to bless others. It is a good reminder that all of us have gifts and talents, and no matter how crazy we might think they are - God can use us, and bless us in amazing ways if we are willing to listen. Many many blessings, my friend!!!

Katie said...

Wow! That's so awesome! Congrats big timer!

So- I need to get Ella some of those cutey boots now that our weather (had to get that in there) is ready for them!

Theresa said...

Jessica, so happy to hear your good news and positively THRILLED for you! Congratulations on this huge step. I am excited to continue the journey with you and can't wait to see what's up next! Yay!

Philip, Melissa, & Summer said...

Wow, that is so amazing. Congrats to you. I know you are in Houston I think. But do any shops here in H town sell them?

Simone Howell said...

A huge congrats to you, Jessica!! Such big and fabulous news!! And those Gretel boots are so dang cute you are making me want to have another baby... Wait, I already have one...it'a a new bag! Big hugs and huge congrats! You deserve every success that comes your way (not that success just comes, I guess I should say "every success you earn"). xo Simone

Paula Prass said...

Wow, why do I feel like a proud mama right now? Well I am! You are one wise women to fall on your face and ask for God's help. He doesn't always answer quickly, so you are one blessed woman.

Market was so busy, but I would have loved to meet up with you. Next year? xoxo

Jessica Haley said...

Per the retailer comment from Summer, I am not in any boutiques right now, in the Houston area or otherwise. While I will be wholesaling my shoes, I have only sold one very large order to a European company and they have been patiently waiting for the boots for a long time. I am again talking with my celebirty-owned LA boutique. As I reopen my wholesale line, I will be very selective in who I sell to, with a preference for fine brick and mortar children's retailers, since brand-integrity is very important to me.

Ha, Ha, to Lori of Jewellori! I am an extraovert and process things verbally--so,no, it hasn't been easy to keep such a big secret! I thought for sure I was dropping some pretty big hints, but maybe not (?)

Lori(V), we should chat! Give me a call sometimes! Or I'll call you.... if I have a current #.

Paula, we may see one of the shoes from the Summer Soiree collection being produced soon! ;)

Again, thank you all for your well wishes!

Jenni said...

Congratulations - your shoes/accessories are absolutely stunning and I am glad we are going to see MORE of them! Now maybe I will be able to snag pairs (as gifts - not sure if the 7's are going to be too small for Lola)!

Everything happens for a reason, I am beyond thrilled that this reason happened for you!

Once again, congratulations on your amazing success!

Tory said...

YEAH!!! I'm so HAPPY that it's finally time to reveal this info--that's been SO hard to hold in...I'm overjoyed for you and so excited for this next chapter in your life--clearly just the very beginning!! You are AMAZING! You're vision is unparalelled and your talent is THE best there is. LOVE to you and to all the awesome, like-minded, ladies who adore and support you.
Blessings!

Ana Gonzalez said...

The picture is beautiful by the reflexive stance of the girl. Your story moved me.

SCmama1971 said...

I enjoyed your story very much. I am hoping I can grab more shoes before they are gone....per usual. :)

Keep God in your endevour. You will be blessed ten-fold!

Keep up the good work!

Brenda Jo said...

Oh congratulations!
You have such a beautiful family and you create such prettiness. So happy for you and yours...

Brandie said...

I read you blog daily but rarely comment but I just had to say, Congratulations! That is huge news. Your shoes are the cutest things ever! You deserve the success that is coming to you:)

tasha said...

congratulations jessica! i love your blog and your darling girly shoes you make. you are so talented! i love hearing your funny stories about the messes your kids make. then i realize i am not the only one who gets frazzled during the day with kids and messes! :) that is such an amazing story about how you got going on your business. i believe that God has a plan for all of us.

Andrea said...

Congratulations Jessica -I am so happy for you!

Jessica Haley said...

I am so touched by all of your kind comments! It has not been an easy road, and there have been many {MANY} times were I wanted to throw in the towel. Your encouragement is so affirming--thanks!!!

chrissie said...

congrats on this jessica! put me down for boots for sure we are going to try again! : )

Hana said...

Oh Jess! I'm so excited and happy for you! When Ella was wearing those shoes that I got from our trade last year I remember telling people "I got these from the sweetest girl who makes and sells baby shoes! Aren't they just the cutest? One day she and her little shoe business are gonna be BIG"...well Jessica, that day has come! Go you! You deserve it for all those late nights! CONGRATS GIRL!!

Ariana said...

YAY! Congrats! I knew it, I knew it! I am so proud of you!

The POSHpreneur said...

You are so talented and deserve to be a worldwide HIT which I know you will be!! Keep doing your thing woman!! :)

Sandy said...

Well, I guess I was supposed to read this post.
I was just about to toss in the towel. (I have 6 kids -one is a newborn). We lost our home and are now temporarily living in a travel trailer. And we have all about had it! being creative is especially hard right now. I just opened up on Etsy. I took an order from my homeschool group leadership on making 4 long skirts for her and she will waive my tuition (which was about 350.00)! (but working in the space where I am working is rough - no AC and it is summer! God is Gracious and He is Good.
Sometimes I wish I could see His plan more clear. And so I would not ever doubt about the light and joy in our trials.
Thank you for sharing this with me.
Maybe (if you have a little bit of time) you would e-mail me some great Etsy Tips.
Do I really need to renew my listings almost every day?

Hugs... and Blessings

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