a snapshot of the studio apartment where I launched Jess LC and MML in 2007-2009
Though I have been making and selling jewelry since I was a high school freshman, the decision to make the business a profession was a long and winding road. As I mentioned yesterday, before selling my first anklet, I had no real interest in jewelry. In fact, I spent most of my childhood re-decorating my bedroom endlessly.
But neither interior design nor law, a career I pledged my life to when I was in third grade, became my lot in life. And though my college application essays professed a drive to grow the business full-time, I became seriously close to dropping it completely and getting a corporate creative job in marketing, product development, or buying.
To understand how I got to Chicago launching Jess LC, you need to understand how miserable I was during my junior year of college.
Like many college students, I went through a phase of uncertainty and questioning. For me, this was during my junior year of college when I was living as a Resident Adviser in free-spirited residential college and taking classes in the business school. These two worlds, separated by a single street, could not have been more different philosophically and they perfectly reflected a lot of my own internal struggles. Work hard, play hard vs. live in the moment and be happy without attachment to material wealth. Combine this debate with the realization that I needed to forge my own path in life independent of my upbringing or other people’s expectations and you have yourself a pretty little stew of suckiness.
All of the beliefs that I had held as a child were challenged and I effectively burned my life paradigm in order to begin again. And in the process, I despised myself. I didn’t want to face the uncertainty, the confusion, and the imperfections in my life. I wanted to be perfect. RIGHTNOW. I wanted to abandon my body and dive into a new, perfect one. During this time I binge ate candy bars and gained 20 pounds in just over one semester. I went to counseling. I hated hearing my thoughts inside my head. It was as if my ego was rampant in my mind pointing out all of my flaws and shortcomings.
For a long time, my method of trying to fix this feeling of lack and imperfection was to get something new to fix it. Maybe this new lip gloss will make me feel beautiful. Maybe that new Coach bag will make me feel stylish. Maybe this new guy will validate my worth as a woman. Maybe this new pillow will make my dorm room perfect.
I sought validation and completion in external stuff.
Then one day in my journey to undo all of the negative thinking in my life I stumbled upon a quote by Michelangelo in which he stated that creating the David statue was easy because he saw the potential within the marble; he simply removed the layers that hid the masterpiece.
That simple paradigm shift, from thinking that I needed more stuff in my life to be my best self to realizing that I was already the “best me” underneath all of the stuff changed me forever.
No longer did I need to complete myself with extra things to be perfect. The person I wanted to be was exactly who I was, without the extra crap. My best self was me without the 20 pounds of candy bar fat – not a super model body. My best self was me without the skinny clothes I saved – getting rid of the ill fitting clothes left me with a great wardrobe which was comfortable and attractive. My best self was me without the negative self-talk – not a different mind.
I also realized that our culture at the time had a hand in other’s feeling this way as well. Extreme Makeover was one of the most popular tv shows at that time, and I knew that my mission was to help people realize that they could makeunder to be truly happy.
While I was re-wiring my brain and becoming happier and climbing my way out of my misery, I did research on
Oprah and Martha Stewart other women who had made massive change and decided my best course of action to help people makeunder was to write a book. And as much as I worked on the book proposal about simplifying your home, I also knew that I was living in a dorm room. I didn’t have much authority on the subject of simplifying a kitchen, garage, and playroom. I felt like a green banana, not quite ripe yet.
So in 2007 after graduation, I decided that running Jess LC full-time would allow me to devote as much time as possible to the book proposal and writing. I knew from my internship at Macy’s the summer before that a 40 hour work week was a challenge to write around and that I could easily get caught up in the rat race and delay or ditch the proposal altogether.
Which meant that in August of 2007, I moved to the studio apartment shown in the photo above in Chicago and launched Jess LC. Getting the company started took much more time and energy than I ever could have imagined and I decided to focus my energy there until it was more established. Then the recession hit, and things got even more challenging. But in January of 2009 I made the intention to start writing bits and pieces of my makeunder journey on a blog so that I could eventually turn it into a book proposal.
Which is exactly what I did. I had no real intention of anyone reading the content, it was simply a less daunting writing tool than a blank Word document.
But a few days later after advertising on my first blog for Jess LC, I got a comment from Anne of The City Sage on my “book proposal” site. I had been reading her blog for months and was quite shocked that she would even look at something I had written. For me, it was a sign.
I didn’t need to have a book, book tour, or tv show to help people makeunder. I simply needed to write each day and help people exactly where I was – on MML.
And that, my dear friends, is why and how I started MML. Thank you so much for reading. I hope that what I’ve shared over the last two and a half years has indeed helped you find your best self underneath your stuff.