Happy Birthday, Bella Carta!
One year ago today, I officially launched my website after pulling an almost-all-nighter for what was probably the 20th consecutive night I had been awake. The twins were 6 months old, and still eating every 2-3 hours, so my work was done in 2-hour spurts while they slept. My Etsy shop had been open for a bit before then - with inconsistent branding, a random product assortment, and no thoughtful direction. The weeks leading up to my launch, I scrapped all my products for new ones, changed all my pricing & policies, and prayed fiercely that I hadn't missed something obvious.
These are 5 big lessons I've learning in the last year since I launched my business. While Bella Carta has been around a bit longer than that, August 28th marked the day I started treating this space like a business, and started taking it more seriously. The last year has been filled with lots of growth and more new experiences than I could have imagined. My projects and clients pushed the limits of my creativity and taught me so much about the industry, building a successful business, and about how I measure success.
1 | It Takes A village
It really does. I may be the only designer behind this business, but there wouldn't be a Bella Carta without my family and friends. From my husband helping me pack up orders and double checking addresses, my parents always willing to play with the kids so I can respond to emails, and friends willing to help run errands and help me when I’m in a bind… I never could have gotten through this last year without all of them.
2 | Be Vulnerable
I used to define success by not making any mistakes. A perfectionist to a flaw, I was known to rewrite every note in college and trash projects if they weren’t perfect. This last year I learned that asking for help, taking accountability and admitting you don’t know it all help you grow as a person, and as a business owner.
3 | Community Is Key
Entreprenuership can be a lonely world, and making friends in the industry has been a huge blessing to my business. Having peers to share stories with and who can relate to the growing pains of business, are priceless. They are your cheerleaders and support systems, and more often than not, have gone through the same experiences as you, and can offer a new perspective and suggestions you may not have thought of on your own.
4 | Stay True to You
There have been so many times this year where I questioned my design style. Maybe it wasn’t modern enough or colorful enough, or maybe people wanted to see more illustrations, or florals or pink. I compared my business more times than I could count, and thought to myself, “if I could just design like so-and-so…” What I learned though, was once I found my own aesthetic, and stayed true to it every time I designed, I made more sales and finally felt like I had found my niche. When clients say that they can identify my work anytime they see it, I know I've made my mark.
5 | Just Start
This can apply to so many things and projects this year, but it’s really become my personal mantra to myself when I’m feeling overwhelmed. It’s what I told myself last March when I knew I wanted to give this business the time it deserved to see my dream through. It’s what I tell myself nightly when I’m exhausted after putting the kids to bed and I have a to-do list that I know I can’t get through. Just start. It doesn't have to big, and you don't have to get it all tonight tonight, or tomorrow or this year, but just start.
Today also happens to me my birthday, and I'm looking forward to celebrating with my little family this weekend, and I can't wait to see what year two has in store for Bella Carta! It's been a wild ride, but I wouldn't have it any other way.