On Starting a Business

I’m starting a business.  There, I’ve said it.  It’s real and now the internet knows, and now I have to actually do it.

Really, I have to do it because I’ve officially quit my job.  Sometimes giving ourselves no parachute is the best motivator of all.  Sometimes it’s just foolish.  We’ll see how this one ends.

I hope to chronicle my starts and fits.  My embarrassing gaps in knowledge and tricks I’ve picked up along the way.  My triumphs and successes.  The whole dirty mess.  Mostly because I’m a chronicler and it’s the only way I know how.

I’m starting a business.  A fabric store.  A real one, with a storefront and mannequins dressed in things I’ve made out of fabric I sell, and a warehouse full of textiles.  There’s a dramatic story behind its inception, starting with my inability to find fabric I needed and ending with me sitting on the floor of my apartment three years ago vowing that as God as my witness, I would never shop at Jo-Ann Fabric again.  I’ll tell all eventually.  Or maybe that’s all there is to know.

I have a business license.  An LLC.  A business banking account.  When the banker asked about my business I answered sheepishly, in hushed tones.  Fabric, after all, is a somewhat silly thing to sell.  Girlish.  Quaint.  “How much revenue do you expect to earn?” she asked.  My answer seemed optimistic, even though I borrowed it from a nearby quilting store whose inventory will be smaller than mine, their hours shorter, their customer relations nonexistent.  My projections are less than an eighth of the volume of the nearby Big Box craft store that marketing polls show is universally hated, though tolerated for the dearth of other options.  It seems optimistic that that many people will want to spend their hard-earned money on fabric.  Apologetically, I thanked the personal banker for her time.  Hesitantly, I accepted her wishes of good luck.

A different employee chased me to the door.  “Did I hear you say you’re starting a fabric store?” she asked.  Yes.  “What kind of fabric will you sell?”

“Mostly fashion and costume fabric.  Stuff you can’t already find around here.  But I’ll also carry quilting and home decor.  Basically anything that’s…” I trailed off because I was about to quote Kelly Kapur from The Office.  “Anything that looks good.”

She told me she and her friend are constantly trying to make their own dresses.  That they shop on Modcloth (Me, too!) and want to make their own less-expensive versions.  That shopping online for fabric is lengthy and supplies end up costing nearly as much as the dresses themselves.  Essentially, she lays out the exact problem I’m trying solve.

A nearby teller chimes in.  She tries to look for fabric she likes, she says, but it’s so hard to find.  They can’t wait to shop in my store, they tell me.  Please let us know when you’re open, they say.

I’m decidedly less sheepish when I leave the bank.  These are strangers, not solicited or sensitive to my feelings.  There may be hope after all.

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