We asked our November Maker of the Month, MimiDre, owner of Fly Nerd Apparel to share tidbits of her journey into entrepreneurship. Mimi started her business as a side hustle, just like many of you reading this blog post. Read below as she shares some of the factors leading to her decision to leave her day job, some of the sacrifices made, and some of the challenges she has overcome throughout the way. We wanted to show the realities of entrepreneurship. It is our hope that you are inspired to continue pushing forward with your own idea, take advantage of the resources available to you, and persist in your efforts to make your success a reality!
Take a look at MimiDre’s journey:
TESTING THE CONCEPT BEFORE TAKING A LEAP
The first Fly Nerd t-shirt was printed as a fan tee for PJ Morton in 2009. I designed the graphic and had a local print shop make it. I gave it to him at a concert and that was that. Nothing much came from that exchange. I was living in NJ at that time but later that year moved back to MD. I didn’t come back to that design until 2012 after I learned to screen print. My first vending event was a small flea market at my nephew’s school which consisted of about 3-4 vendors. I came back to the Fly Nerd design as well as adding others that included an “I love my hair” tee. I sold a few tees. That gave me a little more of a push to start an Etsy page to start selling online. With research into better quality t-shirts and help from a co-worker with my product photography, I reworked the Etsy page the following year and actually started making a few sales online.
THE DECIDING FACTORS IN GOING FROM EMPLOYEE TO FULL-TIME ENTREPRENEUR
I’ve gone from employee to full-time entrepreneur to employee & entrepreneur to full-time entrepreneur.
The first time I quit my day job was around August of 2014. I was working full-time at an art store. I learned a lot while working there and enjoyed working with my co-workers. But, I knew it was not my final destination. I knew my time there would be temporary. I just didn’t know HOW temporary. I spent about 3 years at that job before I left to be a full-time entrepreneur. I spent a year running my business full-time. It was rewarding BUT very difficult. The following summer I decided to pick up a part-time job at a local library to help with my financial obligations. I worked at the library for two years. I recently quit two months ago.
The thing that provoked me most to take the jump both times was time. Every weekend, I was vending somewhere in Baltimore in 2014. The day job required me to work weekends. I used up all my vacation time that summer for vending events. The schedule and the growth of my business became more demanding. I wasn’t going to pull back on my business. So, I first decided to go part-time at the day job. After a few weeks of that, I just put in my two weeks notice. More recently, I was vending A LOT during the summer and the website was gaining more traction. I knew with the approaching holidays I would need to devote more of my time to the business. Again, time was a huge factor.
OVERCOMING THE CHALLENGES OF ENTREPRENEURSHIP
The biggest challenge in being a full time or an ANY time entrepreneur is staying positive and motivated. The road can be a lonely one. You have to purposely stay connected with other business owners as well as friends and family. It is SO easy to just be a hermit and stay under a rock. Times come when you need some encouragement and camaraderie. Being a hermit does not help in those times.
USING THE RESOURCES AVAILABLE TO GROW THE BUSINESS
Going to workshops hosted by Made in Baltimore or attending Baltimore Etsy Sellers MeetUp has helped tremendously to keep me connected in the creative community and learn new things to help grow my business. Making connections with other entrepreneurs has been so vital to helping me stay optimistic and inspired. It is so reassuring to know that other people are figuring this thing out just like me.
With Made in Baltimore, I attended the Scaling Up workshop which featured presentations by Jamyla Bennu of Oyin Handmade and Kiva. That workshop probably was the most inspiring. It is comforting to know that other people started in their basement and were able to build up to fully functioning operation with staff and all. One of the points she made that stands out was systems. As a creative, I am in my head MOST of the time in regards to my business to do list. If I hope to grow, I have to be able to communicate and put some order to my processes in order to allow and teach someone to help. Another workshop I attended was on Spaces for your business.
TRUSTING YOUR INSTINCTS
There is no perfect time to leave your day job. You may never feel ready. You WILL know when it is time. Follow your instincts. Each of our stories is different and the leap into full-time entrepreneurship is not an easy one. It is challenging. And with every challenge, there is an opportunity to grow.
Can you relate to MimiDre’s journey? Join the conversation on Facebook or Instagram and let us know how you’ve managed your side hustle or how you’ve handled the jump to full-time entrepreneurship. Be sure to connect with her and check out the Fly Nerd brand!