Friday, March 18, 2011

The big move

"Holy crap. What do you mean they lost the account?" I said stunned.

"They lost it." he said.

"But we already sold the house. I quit my job. Oh my gosh. What are we going to do?" I whined.

"I don't know. We'll figure it out. They still have one piece of the business. Just not the retail portion. It looks like moving to California will be a bigger adventure than we thought." he said.

We were unemployed and homeless. Sort of. He was technically still employed. We just needed to stay positive and hope everything would work out and as we made the big cross country move.

Three months later....

"It's over. We're letting you go. We just don't have enough income from the account to keep you." his boss said.


And then came the big announcement.

"I'm done. I can't do this anymore. I'm done with advertising." he proclaimed.

"Fudge! What do you mean done? Like, you're not going to look for a job kind of done?" I asked.

"I've had it with this business. Everyone is so dispensable. I want to do something else." he said.

"Okkkkkkkkkkkk. What are you going to do?" I asked.

"I don't know." he said, completely defeated. He had spent his entire career in advertising. He had reached a level that offered him great clients and a great salary. Quitting what he knew without a plan scared the crap out of him.

For years we had talked about having our own furniture/design business. We decided it was time to pursue that. I worked on a business plan for months. We went to a trade show in Las Vegas. And then we went and sought advice from an accountant and lawyer.

"You'll be out of money in six months." they said.

Great. Just what we wanted to hear.

This did not deter us. We were too naive.

So we started looking at existing businesses that were for sale. We checked out a store in Healdsburg, a uniform business in San Francisco (don't ask) and an upholstery/interior design store in Napa.

The upholstery business was intriguing. It had been around since 1947 and seemed like something we could grow and expand. Maybe it could become that eco-friendly store we wanted.

Six months later we bought that business. All of a sudden we were operating what is essentially a manufacturing facility of which we know nothing about, with seven employees that all spoke Spanish and very little English.

This was our dream? It was more like a nightmare.

Over the next few years we went through more emotional and financial stress than you can imagine. My husband ran the business. I worked for an advertising agency in San Francisco so we would have steady income and insurance. Challenging doesn't describe what we went through.

Learning to run this business wasn't anything like we expected. It was so much harder on so many levels. We were clueless. The stress and anxiety nearly broke Don. It broke my heart watching him struggle. This did not seem like a good alternative to the volatile advertising business. What had we done?

Fast forward to present day. We survived Don's near-nervous breakdown, the language barrier, and the horrible economy. Our little career zig zag has been the most challenging, eye opening, financial suck that we've ever experienced. Would we do it again? I don't know. We do make really beautiful furniture. But it sure has been hard.

Ask me in a few years after the economy has recovered and I'm employed again.

Pollin's Interiors and Custom Upholstery
Don's Interview in Marin Magazine "Time to Reinvent your life."

**TRDC This week's Red Writing Hood assignment is to write - fiction or non-fiction - about a time when you took a detour. Where had you intended to go and where did you end up?

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