a pilgrim’s progress

(Update: we ended up clocking in at 122 orders!)

Yesterday was one of those days. One of those days where your wildest imagination cannot keep up with reality. As you can see above, a feature in Daily Candy yesterday led a remarkable amount of people to Jess LC. And rather than tuck this milestone under the rug and carry on as though nothing happened, I want to share this here on MML as proof positive that following your purpose can lead to incredible places.

As I processed the events of yesterday, it occurred to me that our feature in Daily Candy last year was almost exactly one year from today on November 9th, 2009. It generated a lot of buzz for what was then a much smaller version of Jess LC. Last year I was thrilled that after ten years of hard work, I’d finally caught the eye of one of the best editorial sites online. That November, I also dared to consider what was possible for Jess LC in the future. I was inspired to take the business to the next level and quickly went to work in the early part of 2010 making my dreams come true. Below, I detail the actual experience of the launch in April of the re-branded Jess LC via one of my best posts I’ve ever written. As you will read, the reception to the new site was not quite what I expected. Not at all.

But, in keeping with my best piece of advice for all entrepreneurs, I kept going. Day in and day out for the last six months I have continued to grow the jewelry business as best as I can while spending as much time as possible here on MML writing, sharing, and encouraging everyone to design a life with intention.

This process over the past six months has been difficult. I’ve risked more, I’ve tried newer and bigger things, and I’ve tripped along the way. But I’ve kept getting back up, dusting myself off, and taking the next step.

To see the results of this year’s Daily Candy feature, to see customer’s appreciation of the new branding, website,  and products confirms that the vision I had last November was a good one. One that was worth fighting for. And I’m so incredibly thankful that I just kept going each day since April while I didn’t see the results I wanted. If I had given up at any point up to this one, yesterday’s orders may never have happened.

And I know that some businesses are instant successes, some businesses hit it out of the park and rise to historic heights with the blink of an eye. But most don’t. Most take time, faith, and the ability to just keep going. Jess LC is one of those businesses. By consistently daring to improve, dream bigger, and take the next step, I’ve built the vision I dreamed of. I know that I will continue to face new challenges and obstacles. Just because I got one amazing response this week doesn’t mean there won’t be troubles in the future, but I’m here to stay.

A moment like this is worth working towards. Just keep going.

Flashback to Six Months Ago…

Today I’m gonna jump right in. Hang on, its gonna be a bumpy ride.

Here’s where I get real and share some of the tough stuff I’ve learned from the past three weeks of the “new” Jess LC. Though I usually wait a bit longer to share lessons, I think it’s safe to take this moment and really get into what I’ve learned and gone through the past 21 days since I re-launched. As you know from the behind the scenes series, the process to make the new brand took six months and a ton of work, miracles, and amazing help. I was ecstatic, elated, and overflowing with gratitude.

For 72 hours.

On the third day after the re-branding, I had what I now call The Pilgrim Effect. What is the Pilgrim Effect you ask? Well, let’s put it this way (in my fuzzy and distorted recollection of American history), I’m sure that when the Puritans decided to leave England to practice their religious freedom, they felt that God had put a knowing-ness in their heart, they knew deep in their bones they were destined to move to the New World and start afresh. They made plans, built boats, sailed countless days in said boats, struggled, survived, and eventually landed on our dear shore. I’m guessing that they were ecstatic, elated, and overflowing with gratitude.

For 72 hours.

Because you see, I too had a similar vision on a much more personal scale. I felt last November that I was meant to make this shift to the new site, the new brand, the new look, the new jewelry. I knew deep in my gut that I could no longer keep Jess LC in it’s previous state. I simply felt it was meant to be new, different, improved. I also had a bigger vision for the new site and bigger company goals. So I worked, and planned, and struggled, and had amazing help to get me to the new shores of the integrated shopping cart, video, lookbook, Division collection, and logo.

But what I (think) the Pilgrims and I forgot to realize is that after spending so much time and energy throughout the journey, we started to build up a vision of what that hard work would manifest. Sure, the Pilgrims got to worship however they wanted and I got a sweet new website and look for my company – but the reality of that shore near Plymouth rock was hard (pun intended). It was cold. The winter was setting in.

And they didn’t even have a city or home to live in.

Not that I think that the Pilgrims were dumb, but I am guessing that if they were any thing like me, by the time they got through traveling, they half hoped they’d find a quaint bed and breakfast or at least a Sheridan Inn on the other side of the ocean so they could finally rest in the Lord’s blessings and 500-count Egyptian cotton linens. And maybe even have a continental breakfast the next morning.

But it didn’t happen.

When I finished the site, I expected 75% of the female population to find out about Jess LC, fall in love with the jewelry, and buy for everyone they knew. I expected Daily Candy to write it up again, Lucky Magazine to call me begging for samples for their upcoming photo shoot, and if Obama or Oprah called to wish me luck and much continued success, I wouldn’t have batted an eye.

But none of that happened.

I definitely got lots of great support, feedback, comments, and orders came in at average to slightly higher rates. But not a fraction of the expectation I had built up to that point. I expected things to come to me, when the reality was I needed to work even harder to see those new opportunities come to pass. I, like the Pilgrims, needed to build a city in the New World and that meant even more hard work.

Needless to say, it was unsettling and worrisome for a week and a half.

But then I started to see myself react to the situation, after hanging my head for a few days, I started to pick up the phone again, I started to make calls to Lucky Magazine, to Daily Candy. I started to go to new networking events and I started to talk to designers with bigger followings to learn what my next steps should be. I started to take risks and actions that I never dreamed of making while the “old” Jess LC was around. And over time, I’m starting to see results. I’m starting to see the possibilities open up.

I’m starting to build my city, just like the Pilgrims, brick by brick.

And so I guess what I’ve learned after this whole experience is that when we take a leap of faith on something we feel so inwardly compelled to do, we must not assume that the outcome will always be easy. But once we make that shift, we can expect ourselves to rise to the occasion and bring the outcome we seek to fruition.

(from April, 20th)

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  1. Jill

    Yay Jess! I am so proud of you and you are an inspiration. I love following your highs and even the lows (because you can be so insightful during/after them). A hearty way to go!

  2. Niki

    Congrats on another great milestone in your business!! You inspire me – so much!

  3. Flavia

    Congratulations Jess! You enjoy every moment of your success! I’m happy to be following along your milestones!

  4. Not only am I SO excited for you and yesterday’s sucess, but I also really needed to hear this today. So thank you!

  5. Cathy

    Way to go! And thanks for the reminder about taking things one day at a time and that we have to keep working towards our dream. I’d love to be the next Martha Stewart (minus the jail time), but that’s probably not going to happen overnight.

  6. abby jenkins

    I just popped over here from pve and am happy to find you. What beautiful work and what an inspirational post.

    Daily Candy smells like sweet success!

  7. Thanks for this post Jess. I remember the Pilgrim post, and I say the same now as I sad then: this post helps me a lot when I am down, when things dont go as expected..

  8. erin

    this is striking such a chord for me. thanks for pushing through to the other side and then writing so eloquently about your experience, and congratulations on your success.

  9. Alexa

    I still think you’re such an inspiration Jess. Thanks to you, I’m thinking seriously about what I really want my life to look like and what I’d really love to be doing.

  10. Becca

    Very inspirational post! I think what you keep reiterating about just keep moving forward, keep showing up, keep going is so important. I know that’s what’s made me successful at my job – and hope it will be what makes my soon to be business a success too!

  11. I so needed to read this…Thanks for including the link in the latest “Wish I Knew Wednesday” email!!! It was fate and I’m feeling much more inspired =)

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