2017 is a year of new changes. Big changes. My career life looks entirely different.
2015 was the year I was still working full time at the PA travel guide and promoting my book through workshops.
2016 was the year I kicked off Widow Voyages while working full time for the PA Travel Guide and continuing with the workshops.
2017 is the year I am the owner of 2 companies less than a year old. How did that happen?
Let me take you back a bit.
In every ‘Traveling Solo’ workshop I presented to grief communities I kept coming back to one theme: People still don’t want to travel by themselves. They can figure out how to do it. I can show them how to be safe while traveling on their own. They can go to places they want to travel to. But they’re still lonely. They still miss their travel partner.
I knew that my experiences could help solve this problem. So began the idea of Widow Voyages which I began talking about at Camp Widow East 2016. I asked widows and widowers if it’s something they would like to go on-a widow trip-and they loved the idea. Over the next several months I came up with a name, worked with some local companies on a website redesign, logo, and a plan. In 2016 I led two successful widow trips and everyone had a great time. I received very little negative feedback and the recommendations keep coming.
This has spurred on more feedback on where to go in the future, and that means more trips and more time off. I used every vacation day plus some by working with my current boss to be able to go on pre-booked vacations as well as to lead these two widow trips. But looking at the 2017 Widow Voyages trip schedule I had no clue how I could do these trips and continue to work a regular full time job.
I started talking to other women entrepreneurs and attending meetings to figure out how to run a business and work full time. I was left knowing that I needed to make a big change. I began looking for freelance jobs that would allow me to continue in sales, like my full time job, but working independently so I could create my own schedule. It was intimidating to think about, but necessary and exciting. I crave flexibility and I like control.
An opportunity came up several months ago and I began speaking with the CEO and product development coordinator of a company based in California about their start-up company which manufactures biodegradable and compostable products and packaging. My heart soared as one of my side passions is preservation and sustainability. It’s the entire reason I became a PA Master Naturalist. I wasn’t sure how it would work, but they sent me samples and I shared them with my family to get their feedback. What did they like/dislike about it? Would they pay more for it versus a traditional disposable kitchen product? Did they believe in me? How could we afford to lose my income until I began making money? Could I get on Dave’s benefits? What would we have to change about our current lifestyle to make this work? Did this allow me the flexibility I wanted to continue to pursue Widow Voyages? Would it make me happy?
Would it make me happy? I feel like I’ve been searching for career happiness for so long. When I started this job at the travel guide 5 years ago, it was such a great change and gave me the ability to put my degree to use. It was perfect, and it remained that way for a long time. I went through a lot of ups and downs here and management always was able to work with me and support me. I will miss that. I will miss them. I will miss the security.
Yet I’m excited and nervous and anxious. I agreed to start my own company to sell these biodegradable and compostable products. The company is still not developed into what I need yet, but it will get there. There’s several other products that I need/want to carry to get larger accounts, but I will get there in time as I grow. I start with a SCORE coach soon to help me develop the company. And I love the product and the people there. They’ve been great during the contract negotiation process and are very friendly and knowledgable. It makes taking this risk that much easier.
So, in 2017 I will begin selling as the owner of Earth to Table Products. My territory covers, PA, MD, DE, DC, VA, NJ and NY. I’ll be selling biodegradable and compostable plates and bakeware to commercial enterprises such as universities, sports centers, restaurants, caterers and other similar venues. It’s a whole new arena for me, but I’m excited to get started.
But first, I’m going to take 2 weeks off at the end of December to get my office and paperwork in order, to relax, and to get ready to kick off the new year strong. I don’t know what it means to own 2 companies yet, but I’m sure I’ll learn as I go. Thanks to my husband Dave for his support as we kick off this new journey together. I couldn’t do this without him, I really couldn’t, and he believes in my work ethic. So, here we go!