Entrepreneur — Lessons Learned over 40 Years — Part I
2018! As I write this date, I realize that my Self-Employment Journey began in earnest, forty years ago!
In my mid-twenty’s, ready for all that Life could offer . . . (see bio in About DawnSeeker), I started an arts and craft Business Venture: Blossoms of Dawn — Silk-Flower fashion and hair accessories.
Initial investment, a whopping $40 bucks!
It began as a solo act. Just me, hot gluing flowers onto hair combs, selling them out of baskets in beach towns to tourists and shop keepers . . .
Then, that same year, I drove to the local beachside airport, and looked into learning how to FLY!!!!!
1978 — Palomar Airport, near San Diego, California
I had a dream. An underlying wish that fluttered in and out of my Life — (and almost died when Dad died).
I wanted to learn to fly — like my Dad, and my Grandfather before me. (See my Family of Flying)
An unlikely dream for a girl back in those days . . . but I learned from Dad not to let that stop me!
And although we lost Dad to a heart attack when I was just 16, his legacy of Entrepreneurship and Self-Determination runs through my veins.
I feel for those of us who lack a role model in Entrepreneurial areas — the areas of Self-Sufficiency and Grit.
I learned all this from Dad.
I watched him perform on the Stage of his Life — from enthusiastically answering phone calls from his office in our Malibu beach home (booking Hollywood film and TV music gigs), to flying his airplane . . . to entertaining the crowds, nightly (and quite literally), on Stage at Disneyland.
Upbeat. Self-Motivated. Ready to take on whatever Life had to offer him.
(Read more about my Studio Musician Dad in You Can Do ANYTHING!)
Nature vs. Nurture
I often wonder about Nature vs. Nurture.
Would I have learned to be Self-Employed without him?
Would I have known how to branch out and make it on my own?
Even after losing Dad at a young age, the lessons I learned from him have survived in me — even thrived.
So I figured I’d share a bit of that Magic Alchemy with you. Forty years in. Forty-eight years since his passing (at age 48!!!).
Find your PASSION !!! :))
What do you LOVE, more than anything else????
What sings to your Soul, inspires you — makes you hop, skip, and want to jump out of bed in the morning????
Not just surviving.
“Just be the BEST at what you do and you can’t help but make good. There’s always room at the top!” ~ Dad’s famous quote :))
When you find that Passion:
So I loved HORSES. And I also wanted to learn how to fly.
And I loved the idea of Self-Employment. Entrepreneurship. Working for myself.
It started with “Dawncy’s Lemonade Stand” at our Beach House in Malibu the summer after the 5th grade, with friend, Nancy Carter (mostly thanks to her mom, Adelle, who did more work on the project than Nancy did :)) We sold lemonade and sandwiches and chips — I guess I just liked that I could do something to get both a few grown-up praises, and a little cash in exchange, because from then on, I was hooked. I kept searching for fresh ideas with which to generate my own income :))
Early ventures included: Dog-walking; House-cleaning; Arts and crafts (making and selling macrame choker necklaces); Baking and selling chocolate chip cookies at the college dorms to students with the munchies (Sunday nights when the cafeteria closed early); Traveling the California Coast selling art prints, crystal necklaces; fashion items; Picking lemons (with permission) from mini-estates and selling them to health food stores; Roadside apple sales; Packaging and selling mistletoe for Christmas . . . in addition to odd jobs like milking cows, horse wrangling, and waiting tables.
I also wanted to be a Singer . . . but my daughter, Ella, ended up fulfilling that! (Ella inherited the musical genes — watch her YouTube music video here: EllaHarp) :))
Back to 1978 . . . and my Dream to FLY!
In order to get my pilot’s license, I had to get through Ground School first.
That means brainy stuff: Physics; Flight theory; Navigation; MATH! (These were the days before laptops and apps and cell phones.) So I muscled through, rose up and got it done!!!!!
Next, the actual flight lessons — as in “Here we go!!!!!!”
Take offs (easy!) Landings (hard!)
But I knuckled in. Stretched my brain/hand/eye coordination.
By concentrating my lessons over three consecutive months, I accelerated my progress, growing my skills from one flight to the next.
First, like a drunk. Searching for the necessary light touch just to fly straight and level.
Then turns and banks.
LANDINGS!!!!!! Ever working on landings!
Growing my skills. With patience. With time. And with the help of my wonderful flight instructor (Dr. Backart).
Free as a bird — hooting and hollering. HIGH as a high ever gets!!!!!!
(My first solo flight, I did about six landings in a row, my instructor standing on the tarmac, fearful I’d forgotten him!)
Then cross country.
And finally, that nerve-wracking flight with the stodgy FAA Examiner.
“Congratulations! You’ve just PASSED your exam and you are now a Private Pilot, Single Engine, Land.”
I now had my wings, and was ready for the next chapter of my new Entrepreneurial Life!
Stretching, Soaring, Expanding
I’m including the airplane aspect of this story, because I think it factored into my Entrepreneurial success.
Here, forty years later, I’m finally concluding . . . I don’t think I could have soared in Business if I hadn’t soared first in that airplane.
If I hadn’t overcome the fears and frustrations of flight, I don’t know that I could have succeeded in long-term Self-Employment.
Branching out into Business on my own was actually a very similar process to learning how to fly.
I knuckled in, trusting my brain/hand/eye coordination in learning how to take up the yoke of Self-Employment without freezing up, stalling out, or crashing, out of control!
The BIG BREAK
While learning to fly, I had decided to go back to school at Cal Poly University in San Luis Obispo, as a Communications Major. (By that time, I had already completed my two-year, Associate in Arts degree.)
So after completing my Private Pilot training, I moved to the Central Coast of California and started back to school. Studied hard, and went to classes . . . still working my newly fledged Blossoms of Dawn fashion venture in order to pay my bills.
It was Springtime now, in a new region — and like my flying, my Business started taking off!
My flowers sold. And sold. And SOLD!!!
Then came the BIG BREAK!
I got in an order from a family-owned fashion chain store — for twelve dozen of my product!!!
Business Game On!
So I dropped out of school. (With my Grandma’s blessing! Read: You Gotta Wanna:))
Hired workers. Filled order(s).
Thus beginning my Real Business Education — as an Entrepreneur!
The Sky’s the Limit :))
Sales. Orders. Manufacturing. Shipping.
Hiring and overseeing employees: Bookkeeper. Production manager. Production crew.
Updating and creating new designs . . .
Working — expanding — traveling.
Most of the time out of town, on the road, rather than “safe at home”.
Flying my rented airplane on sales trips to both Northern and Southern California.
Logging nearly 300 flight hours, most flown in a tiny aircraft filled with flowers, lifting off from the bounds of Earth above twinkling runway and taxi lights, in the inky dark of night . . .
(As a pilot, they let me rent an airplane, but because I had no credit card — a more difficult thing to get back then — they wouldn’t let me rent a car!)
So I parked an extra car at Van Nuys Airport in order to get around when I would fly in.
A very busy time.
Long hours. Little sleep.
In my mid-twenty’s — lots of energy for all this.
Craft Fairs. Wholesale accounts. Retail stores.
Westwood Village. Newport Beach. Carmel. San Francisco.
Sales Reps across the country.
Commercial flights to service accounts outside of my region.
First-ever trip to Hawaii :)) (I ended up moving there a decade later!)
Boutique Show in NYC.
And, while I’m out of town: Doing my best to manage the employees . . . ever keeping up with the employees.
As I expand, competition invades my sales, so I develop a unique clasp design.
Hire Palo Alto patent attorney.
Apply for Federal Trademark Registration. (Blossoms of Dawn)
Apply for design patent (Patent Pending).
Burn Out . . .
After a couple years, I’m beginning to burn out . . . there has to be more to Life than just WORK! (And managing the employees!)
So, in attempt to realize my Horse Dreams, I take a day off and attend a Horse Sale at the Paso Robes Fairgrounds. I bid on (and buy) a sturdy Appaloosa yearling — my mare Fanta, matron of my current 4-generation homebred herd, and jump-start to my next Entrepreneurial career. (For more on my horses, see my Soul Horse Ride blog.)
You see, I realize in all this, that I really want to be working with Horses . . . not Fickle Fashion! (Hint: follow your Passion!)
Seasons and fashions, always change — “What do you have that’s new????”
Shifting styles, trends, colors, themes . . .
And so eventually, I land my airplane for the last time.
Shift my Life and Business out of fashion . . . into marriage, motherhood, kids. And Horses!!!
My New Venture includes:
- Vacation horse care and feeding.
- Scenic trail rides and lessons.
- Swift-moving horse and carriage rides.
- And learning the art and craft of Hoof Trimming and Horseshoeing (Farrier)!!!
Fast Forward to Today
Now that I’ve “Been there and done all that”, not only with: Flight. Fashion. Family. But a successful, thirty-year, Horse and Farrier career, I’ve plenty of insights to share.
My next post, Entrepreneur — Lessons Learned over 40 Years — Part II, contains more specific reflections and lessons from forty years of being an Entrepreneur :))
Like what you’ve read here? Visit Dawn’s sister blog: Soul Horse Ride
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