Please note: I have a new blog on my Shop Talk Series. Please click on "view my profile" to access this new blog!
Have you ever wanted to do something, and you knew it was right, it was good, and even necessary...but you still felt trepidation in taking the first step? Well, I am taking a huge leap of faith and I hope you will leap with me.
Please leap with me.
I am expanding Elizabeth House! But in a manner that may not make sense, so I am going to try to explain my plans - plans I am very excited about (hence the huge grin in the photo of me with "my girls" as I like to call them).
I get emails almost everyday from people all over the country wishing they could come visit my store. I get several emails a week from people wishing I would write a book. I have stores who have contacted me, wanting to sell my Elizabeth House line of products. I have new clients that ask for my custom design work.
Well, there is only one of me (not sure if St. Louis could handle two!) and until science perfects it, I can't clone myself either. So, in order to expand my business the way I want to and in order to work on some opportunities that have come my way, I need to change the way I do retail. I am closing my retail location in St, Louis in order to expand Elizabeth House to my fullest vision.
Please trust me that there is a method to my madness! And I am truly happy with this direction that the business is taking.
My business has grown in ways that I never even imagined. In order for me to expand my private line, my baby line, and also keep up with increasing demand of my custom upholstery and bedding designs, changing how I handle the retail side of my business is just a must. This change in my business will allow me to devote more time to my custom design business and my private line of products. I will now have the time it takes to develop and grow my business.
So, how will my devoted customers continue to get the Elizabeth House signature items such as French olive oil soap, lavender soap, bun candles, sachets, lavender, baby items, Elizabeth House private line, and more? My website, http://www.elizabethhouse.us/ will have an updated e-commerce site that will allow not only my local customers, but all my new friends, via cyberspace, to purchase those items as well. I will even feature some vintage and one-of-a-kind items. This new site is due to be up and running by late June. AND.....
...I plan to do a couple of national shows around the country. If you can't come to Elizabeth House, Elizabeth House will come to you! I will virtually rebuild Elizabeth House at these shows and decorate and design it and fill it with all the goodies I find, design, and create. You couldn't keep me from creating a "store" if you wanted to! Putting a store together is what keeps my creativity alive. When I narrow down the shows I will participate in, you will be the first to know. My goal is to do one on the East Coast and one on West Coast. And a local show as well.
I have even more plans in the works, and will let you in on them as the develop. But the main plan for now is to design my business in such a manner that will provide me with quality time to work, write, and research all that is necessary for the business to take its next steps.
Owning and running a store for over four and half years has been one of the biggest challenges of my life. Never did I think that my little boutique would get such exposure. I and my store have been in over 30 magazines, several national. And now to be a contributor to Romantic Homes magazine, is a dream come true. I am very fortunate.
Owning a store is an education that no MBA could match. The daily ins and outs of running a store is a book in itself. Dealing with contractors, vendors, inventory, artists, city government, landlords, upholsters, seamstress, painters, employees, clients, delivery men, bankers, butchers, bakers and even candlestick makers is an education that would equip one to run just about any business out there. I wouldn't trade this extremely valuable experience for anything.
Out of curiosity, I tallied up the number of hours I put into my business the last four and half years and conservatively, I estimated that I worked over 15,000 hours! And that is a conservative number. I don't want to even think about how much I made an hour! Remember when I said to those of you who want to own a store? I said to ask yourself if what you want to do, would you do it for free? Because sometimes you do. Or if not free, then maybe for a mere .22 cents an hour at times. You truly have to love what you do to put up with all that goes into owning a store.
As I stated earlier, there is a method to my madness. My dear friend, prior employee, and owner of http://www.secretleaves.com/, Sharon, has been very generous with her validating comments since becoming a business owner herself. Sharon worked for me for over three years and she watched me and my "madness" daily. She has heard of all my lofty goals, dreams and plans. She has seen me work, design, and create. I've known for a long time that it wasn't a case of "if" I close the St. Louis location, but rather when. It is all part of the plan.
Sharon has only recently confessed to me that while working for me she often wondered to herself, "why is Elizabeth doing that?" or "Why isn't she doing this?" or "She is crazy, that won't work." And even, "She has so many irons in the fire, why does she do that?" She now tells me that she sees all of my "madness" so very clearly now. That it all makes sense to her now. She has told me that not a day goes by that something doesn't come up in her own new business that a light bulb goes off in her head and she thinks, "oh! that is why Elizabeth did it that way!" Like I said, she is generous in telling me how she now understands what I did when I did it, how I did it, and more importantly, why.
As Sharon likes to say: "I always kept my eye on the prize."
So you may be wondering, where am I going? What am I going to do? How do you get a hold of me? When is the last day the store will be open? Where will I live? Will I still write this blog? Will I move out of my apartment? Yes, I will be leaving my apartment behind too...it is only paint. I used to direct and perform in the theater while living in Europe. We would build very elaborate sets. It is a theatre tradition that on the last performance night, the cast stays behind and "strikes the set" which means to tear it down. And the very next day, we would begin building a new set for the next production. One could say that Elizabeth House is working on its next production.
At the very end of this posting, I answer a lot of the questions you may have and I will continue to keep you informed of my adventures as they unfold. Many times I have advised my cyber friends (readers) to have the courage to get out of the comfort zone. To step out. Have faith. Do what your heart tells you to do. Well...I am going to do just that. And boy, am I out of my comfort zone! Do I worry? Of course! Do I have all the answers and plans down? Impossible. Do I get stressed out and overwhelmed? Sleepless nights are common lately. But, more importantly, do I believe in myself?
Without a doubt. Not a single doubt.
Most of you know that I run marathons. I would like to use a running analogy to sum up this phase of my life: When I train for a marathon, I work out, lift weights, eat right, and run, run, run. Then, I step up to the starting line and wait for the starter gun to go off. It has been the same with Elizabeth House boutique. The last four and half years was a very intense "training program" with many challenges that expertly prepared me for much bigger things.
When something comes to an end, most people like to say, "that was a good run." That is not the case with Elizabeth House because it isn't coming to an end at all. After years of training, one could say that Elizabeth House is just now trained and ready enough to step up to the starting line, waiting for the starter gun. And once that starter gun fires, there will be no looking back. And what a run it is going to be!
Trust me. I am not going anywhere - but up. Things really will be "okay."
Thank you for letting me share this venture with you and for supporting me in all that I do. How very fortunate I am to have you all in my life. And being at the starting line with me. It is always nice to have someone cheering for you...and now I need to get ready to step up to the starting line. But first, I need to go pee....ask any runner what is the last thing she does before stepping up to the starting line? She reties her shoe laces, then she goes pee. I am so excited about all this - I may just pee in my pants. Or....maybe I will just go stand in line at the portapotty. It is going to be a long, exciting run. :-)
From my house to your house,
Questions and answers:
What is the last day the store will be open? Elizabeth House's last day is May 25th I will be having huge sales up to that date. I may even have a back lot sale on the 26th. I will announce that sale, if I have one. I will post on this blog some of the larger items that will be on sale, should you store owners or store owners-wanna-be's may need something for your store. Please be patient and wait for me to get the photos up and prices ready in a few days. I won't be able to answer all emails quickly the next few days.
Can I still purchase my olive soap and candles? Yes. The website will be up and selling by late June.
What about my design consult gift certificate? All gift certificates will be honored as usual.
How will I get a hold of Elizabeth? You may reach me via website or phone, 314-644-0828.
Where will Elizabeth live and work? I am going to work out of my home and meet my clients in my home or theirs. I will have a workshop on site in which to paint and work. My location will be announced later.
Will Elizabeth still paint kitchens and furniture and faux finish walls? Yes! I intend to do a lot more painting!
Which national shows will Elizabeth be in? I will announce the schedule once finalized.
Will Elizabeth ever open another store? Yes. I hope to open another store sometime down the road.
Will Elizabeth still be in Chicago? Yes for now. There are some changes being made in the building that I am located in which may require me to find another location, but yes, there will be a Chicago location. More details later.
Is Elizabeth moving away from St. Louis? I have no immediate plans to leave the area. I love this city and feel at home here.
Will Elizabeth still travel to Europe? Yes! I hope to have more time now to do so. I will buy inventory to be sold on the website and in the shows.
Will Elizabeth still continue to write this blog and talk about owning a store and give store advice? Yes, I love writing. And if there is an interest in my sharing what I learned as a store owner, I would be happy to continue my Shop Talk series. Just let me know if you would like me to continue that series.
Will Elizabeth continue to show her design work? Yes. With this change, I anticipate even more time to devote to my design work.