Wanting It All
I was one of those kids who wanted to be everything when I grew up. And I wasn't shy about sharing all of my bold dreams and ambitions with my parents, friends and teachers. I would tell them about how I was going to be an astronaut, a pastry chef, an Olympic athlete, an inventor, a soap star, a chocolate taste-tester, a movie-maker, a professional make-up artist -- I mean, the list goes on. I'm not kidding, I wanted it all. And I believed all of it was possible.
As I got older, the adults in my life tried to help steer me toward career paths that seemed to make the most sense, which tended to be jobs with actual titles (ie lawyer, teacher, etc.) Even my high school counselor thought it would be a good idea for me to take a job-compatibility test. I was praying it would say pastry chef or hair stylist, instead it revealed the one job I had never considered before - A cowhand on a dude ranch. What?!! I remember telling my mom about the test results and we both laughed hysterically. She said, "Add it to the list!"
My Journey to Journalism
My parents never pressured me to figure things out. But when I came up with the idea of becoming a journalist, they really encouraged me to pursue it.
Journalism was perfect for me because every day was different - I met amazing people and travelled the world. Along the way, I interviewed people who were actually living and DOING the dream jobs I had once imagined for myself as a child. I interviewed a real NASA astronaut, world famous movie directors and actors, first-class athletes, make-up artists and even got to appear as a guest star on Days of Our Lives! I dipped my toe in and out of other people's dreams for 20 years. But what I really wanted was to pursue a personal passion and to chase my own dream of becoming an entrepreneur.
Entrepreneur in the Making
When I was a kid, it was never clear to me or the people closest to me, that my desire to create and dream big were signs of a young entrepreneur in the making. I think now more than ever, people recognize these qualities and can better help aspiring inventors and business owners to focus on their ideas and achieve their goals.
I've always loved my job as a journalist, and I love telling other people's stories, but I also knew that deep down I had a story of my own. For years, I came up with invention after invention. Most of the ideas were totally off-the-wall and impractical! But I kept trying to look problems that needed a simple solution. It wasn't until I had my son, Calvin, that I came up with an idea that I truly believed could turn into a successful product.
My Lightbulb Moment
It was the middle of the night, and I was rocking Calvin to sleep. And it struck me WHY he hated wearing his socks and WHY he was always ripping them off. He wanted to play with his new favorite toy - his toes! What if I created a 2-in-1 sock (similar to a convertible mitten) so little ones could cover or uncover their toes with a quick flip?!
I scoured the Internet and I could not find a sock like I had created in my mind. Later that morning, I started cutting off the toes to Calvin's socks and sewed on a "flip," using my sewing machine. He loved them!
Calvin stopped tearing off his socks and best of all, when his toes were uncovered, he had awesome natural traction that only his sticky, little baby toes could provide. He was no longer slipping around the house when he started learning how to crawl, walk and run. He was confident taking those first steps, and firmly gripping the ground with his toes, while still wearing adorable socks. Sockabu quickly became my passion and I was dead set on figuring out how to launch my company and revolutionize the way kids wear socks.
Concept to Creation
My concept for Sockabu was sparked when my son was only a few months old. Now he is five years old. The journey from having my initial idea to actually having a product to sell has been the most challenging adventure of my life -- and also one of the most fulfilling.
The Tricky Part
I thought coming up with the idea would be the hardest part, but it turns out, that was the easiest part. My biggest challenge? For me, it's been the manufacturing process. I thought because my idea seemed simple to understand conceptually that it would translate into an easy product to manufacture. But sock manufacturers are used to making socks the way they know how and the way they've been doing it for decades. Imagine me walking in with my handmade prototypes and asking (begging) them to do things totally different. Now I understand why they all looked at me like I was a crazy person. What I was asking them to create was not what their traditional machines were capable of doing. I needed a brand new approach. I needed to think outside the box. And that's why it ended up taking years to find my manufacturing solution.
Doubting My Dreams
During the past five years, I certainly questioned myself and wondered if my idea was turning into an endless money pit. The patents alone, and all of the attorney fees, had already cost thousands of dollars. At this point, I had two children and bills to pay. Was I wasting my time? Was I letting down my husband who seemed to believe in me so much? Did I still believe in myself?
But even after my most frustrating and nearly cry-worthy moments (like the day I received 15,000 pairs of socks from overseas that ALL UNRAVELED), I picked myself up and kept going. While there were moments I questioned myself and my own ability to turn my idea into a real product, I never stopped believing in Sockabu.
As a journalist, I learned how to be tough and how to never give up. As an entrepreneur, I learned how to look at every obstacle as a challenge that was solvable. I am just so grateful that I listened to that inner voice - my inner entrepreneurial spirit - that pushed me to pursue my real dream of becoming a small business owner. I think a lot of us hear that little voice but don't know what to do about it. We don't know how to chase after those exciting and amazing ideas that we know would change the world if only we were given the chance.
Well, guess what? No one is going to give you that chance. It's up to you and you alone to go for it. And who cares if it seems impossible at times, or you doubt yourself. Do it anyway. Figure it out. Or better yet, imagine yourself at 95 years old, sitting in your rocking chair, sipping lemonade, and still being upset that you never chased that big idea you had. Don't be 95, sipping your lemonade and wishing you would have gone for it. Don't just dream big ideas. Do them. :)