The Unimpressive Beginnings of a Kitchen Table Business
The title is actually not quite true - I don't have a kitchen table, I have a dining table.
I always read all these inspirational pieces on how the young entrepreneur overcame all the difficulties and created an incredibly successful business despite all the odds stacked against them…
But mostly they all have one thing going for them: writing in the context of hindsight. They write from their current place of success. And of course that’s why we listen; because they’ve proven it possible, they’ve found a way that worked, they are an example to follow, or at the very least a source of inspiration.
But here I write to you from the dark uncertainty of the not-yet-success. I run a small business. It is not anywhere near what I could call successful yet. It’s a home business right at the start. And it’s taken me four years to get even to this point.
This is the reality that I work with: I don’t have all the time in the world to devote to my business. I work five days a week as a chef at a cafe restaurant in Jerusalem. Jewellery making and business building time is squeezed into my free days and evenings after I come home. Right now I’m writing with my brother’s laptop, on my knees because we’re laying the dining table for dinner.
I use that same dining table as the backdrop for photographing my jewellery, as the workshop for stamping and packing my orders, and as the desk for going over finances and all the other fun administrative activities. That’s where I experiment with making cement ring holders, and where we share all our family meals. It’s where I decorate birthday cakes and paint Christmas decorations. It’s the centre of our house, and the centre of activity.
As for pictures, which in this day and age need to constantly be the perfect mix of quality + lighting + creativity + relevance + ethical + professional + personal + goodness knows what -- I take and edit almost all the pictures I use, and if I do have any sort of semi-professional pictures, it’s courtesy of a barter in return for a piece of jewellery, or something of the sort. Instagram is an incredible but daunting tool, and one that I am far from mastering. My website is all my own work, a miss match of well meaning mistakes and some claim to a creative eye.
So far, my sales are less than impressive. I mean, these last few months have been very impressive for me - but I am at the stage where any purchases still catch me a little off guard and are cause for extreme celebration. OK that’s exaggerating a bit. But you get the picture.
I sell online, by word of mouth and through one outlet. My next big step is to start working with other outlets. The dream would be to open my own shop. But I’m going to have to categorize that under my 10 year plan.
My life looks like the furthest thing from an Instagram feed. I hate being the one in the picture. I’m far too messy with my creativity. I get very discouraged when things seem like they’re not working out. And you can forget any kind of productivity on the days when I seem to lose all inspiration.
And yet in spite of all these failings, people entrust me with some of their most precious memories. Every time I make an engagement or wedding ring, every personalised pendant, I am amazed again that I get to be part of these incredible occasions in some way. Even if I never meet the person, I feel so privileged with the role I get to play.
So in the midst of all these challenges, all the extra-effort time which no-one seems to remember once success rolls in, what is the flip side?
It's quite simple: I absolutely love it. I love creating, I love working with my hands, I love making beautiful things, I love finding inspiration from the beauty that surrounds us... And I love the fact that I can do what I love for a living. That in itself is such a huge privilege, and one worth fighting for. Making the extra effort, losing the extra hours' sleep, investing the extra money, because in the end, I know that perseverance will pay off and one day I'll be one of those elusive entrepreneurs that I would have looked at as inspiration because "she did something right"