piper’s dream report: week four

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My life feels like an amusement park lately.  As I take baby steps out of dream world and into the real world of launching my store, I’m finding that I’m experiencing emotions like never before.  It’s like riding a roller coaster of emotions…the dizzying highs, the terrifying lows.  And quite frankly, it would be perfectly fine if it weren’t for those terrifying lows…the ones that make me doubt myself or make me feel like I want to quit (daily sometimes!)…before I’ve even really tried.  All because it’s SCARY.  I’m being faced daily with facing my fears head on…and I can tell that my fingers are digging in deep, they don’t want to be pried from the safety and beautiful fantasy of dream world.

I started my week with the wonderful feeling of being on track.  I had my game plan from the consultant, my new schedule of working on the blog one day and the store the next and I felt for a brief moment “hey, this is starting to come together”.  All I have to do right now is focus on compiling images together of products that I’m interested in carrying.  Easy peasy, right?  I’ve already done the leg work (as in years and years spent pouring over design magazines, websites and blogs and putting all the designers I love onto a spreadsheet).

BUT as I’m taking these steps towards the real world, my confidence seems to waver daily.  I started putting images together of all the products and designers I’ve compiled over the years.  And honestly it’s cool seeing them together.  It’s the first time I’m taking this step…actually putting the products together and seeing what they look like together.  And the good news is that there really is an aesthetic to the products I want to offer!

BUT, I started questioning this.  It’s definitely my style – I would buy any and all of these items.  BUT, as I looked at these images versus the way I decorate my house I became worried.  My decorating style at home is modern classic – I love modern lines but not trendy.  As I looked at the items I want to offer in my store, I started wondering all sorts of things…are they too trendy?  are they too young-skewing?  what is the aesthetic??  It’s a challenge to find modern classic items – that are affordable – something I’m a big believer in.  Do I have enough of those products?  I can say that I do have a fun, whimsical quality to my décor – and this definitely fits in with the products I’m looking at offering.  BUT am I only offering fun, whimsical items and not enough modern classic?

So, as you can see, more questions are starting to arise.  Not fun, dream world questions either…actual questions concerning the direction of the store and what kind of store it will actually be.  And here’s where my perfectionism comes in to play.  I don’t necessarily know the answers…so my confidence plummets.  Questions like:  What do these products together say about my store?  Is this what I envisioned?  What if no one likes these products?  Do these products even go together?  What makes me different from others?  And the biggie…Can I even do this?  Oh, self doubt is terrible isn’t it?

And to top it all off, I have a big problem…have you noticed it?  Don’t laugh…BUT, I have a “BUT” problem.  And not the Sir Mix-a-Lot “Baby Got Back” kind of problem…the “I tend to start & end all my sentences with the word “BUT” kind of problem.  I’ve already counted 5 of them!  I’m beginning to wish I never learned that word (honestly though, I’d just start using a word like “except”…I’m crafty that way!)  “But” really just means that I’m shaking in my shoes…”but” is my way of putting the brakes on and questioning everything…What if I fail?  What if I lose money?  What if no one goes to my store?  And it’s tiring thinking this way!  No wonder I feel like I’m on a roller coaster!

I want to have a “who gives a damn” attitude!  I want to be that person that says “you know what, I like these products so I’m leaping in with both feet and people will show up”!  I loved the line that Brigitte left in her comment the other week.  It’s from Seth Godin: “Write your interests down, circle one and don’t work on anything else until you succeed.”  That really struck a cord with me.  Somehow when you think about it that way it doesn’t seem as scary.  Like if I don’t do anything but work towards my goal of opening my store, how could I not in some way succeed?  BUT…

See…I feel like I want to qualify that statement.  Guess what though?  I’m putting my foot down…I’m not going to do it!  I’m choosing to believe that statement today – I’ve worked hard to get to this point.  And if I can one day say the words “my store’s grand opening is today” then that’s at least something I’ve never done before!

So in order to be able to say that – I have to confront these questions.  I’ve already started by continuing to create these product catalogs.  I’ve also asked friends to look at them to get their feedback (it’s amazing how that helped – sometimes other people not as invested in the outcome can see things that you can’t).  And finally, the reason I’ve been putting these images together is so that I can show them to my consultant and she can give me her opinion and feedback.

And honestly…I see the inkling of a store now.  Not just a dream world store…a real, live, “I’m running it” store!!

I can see how pulling these items together gives me a sense now of who my customers will be and how it can be branded. It’s still a bit fuzzy, but hopefully as I keep taking these baby steps it’ll get more and more in focus!

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  1. Jill

    I think your challenges here are something that all of us experience… I know I do through my blog, what if no one likes the shoes I want to feature or my style or, or, or? But I think that if YOU are passionate about it, than YOU become the common denominator. Whether people like your particular style (and you can’t please everyone!) they will hopefully appreciate your aesthetic and will be able to tell that you are being true to yourself. if you try to please other or “fake” it… it will be overwhelming and exhausting… keeping up what with others expect of you. I wrote briefly about this in a recent “blogging bits” post on my blog, while the post relates to putting yourself out there as a blogger, I think it can translate to your situation too!

    Trust yourself – and others will too!

  2. Karen

    I read a great post that suggested a way to work around the problem of always or often using “but.” The suggestion was to substitute “and.”

    An example in your situation could be the issue of “I have picked out these products that I like BUT what if no one likes them or the demographic skews too much one way” (loosely quoting.) The AND in your case is “I have picked out these products that I like AND I am having friends look at them and provide feedback.”

    I just thought that I would pass along this suggestion as I feel that it could help me whenever I look too much at the downside of possibilities and opportunities. I look forward to reading about your journey as it continues to move forward!

  3. Oh wow, this posts totally resonates with me. I feel like I’ve been going through a very similar process over the last few months. First trying to get my online store launched (it launched in March, yay!), now trying to expand the product selection and inventory, all while moving towards the ultimate goal of expanding to a local brick & mortar store too.

    Best of luck with your own boutique. It looks like you’ve got great taste and a passion for what you do, so I’m sure you’ll succeed!

  4. Natalie

    Piper – I’ve really been enjoying reading your posts as a Dream Reporter! I think your dream is totally do-able, and very exciting! It would be like walking into a real version of all the design blogs I read all day! =) I think the only thing your customers won’t like about your boutique is having to choose *which* of all the beautiful items to take home!

    I can imagine it must be hard to believe in your dream enough to keep moving forward. But hopefully you can be reassured by the people reading your dream report! I’m soooo excited for you! I’m so glad you were encouraged to put together collections of what you’d like to sell in your store. Just seeing the image you put together of items actually got me excited a little bit! I can imagine all of those items on shelves in a cute boutique! And then imagining you having your grand opening! You could invite tons of local business owners, friends and families, have some light refreshments served, give out coupons and such. So exciting! You mentioned before having trouble expressing your ideas and vision to other people, but with just a few words and images, you at least inspired a vision into my head of how wonderful your boutique could be. It might not be exactly the vision you have in your head, but it was wonderful enough to make me, a total stranger, think “I want to go to there!” (to quote Liz Lemon!). So have confidence! Your idea is strong and appealing, and I feel like you have the vision to bring it to life!

    Whenever I would do speech or music performances in high school, and I started to get nervous, I always tried to logic myself out of it. Why was I nervous? Because I didn’t want to mess up, I wanted to do a good job and it was hard, and messing up would be embarrassing. But being nervous made my mind foggy, my hands shake, my mouth dry, and my words come flying out of my mouth too fast. In other words, being nervous about messing up made me about 10 times more likely to mess up! In your case, having doubts about being able to succeed is taking time, energy, and passion away from your work, making you less likely to succeed. So tell that fear it has no business messing with your plans, and if it’s so worried about you succeeding, it should just stay out of it! =)

    Good luck with this week, and I can’t wait to keep reading more!

  5. Aw..you used my quote!!

    I wonder how all your products will look once the full mix is together. Perhaps other pieces will bring in the classic?

    Have you gotten to the section of Boss of You where you write out customer profiles? It’s fun to make up the little stories, but it’s also really helpful to envision what type of people will shop at your store. I think this article is helpful in thinking it through, as well. http://www.successdesigns.net/articles/entry/how-to-define-your-target-market/

  6. Leigh

    When I was launching a new e-commerce boutique we had two girls in mind: the devilish naughty brunette and the polite as a princess blonde. Every product catalog that came in the door or trade show booth we loved had to fit into one of those girls personas. If it didn’t, we didn’t buy it.

    I think it’s great that the store is full of stuff that YOU love. It’ll be easy to talk it up and sell it, because your passion will shine through. If you’re worried, then come up with a second customer. A customer who is different from you, but who your store can also serve. Then make sure that your products can serve at least one of those customers.

    Modern clean lines meets boho chic, or something like that. Also, you’re going to need the modern pieces – those will be the bread and butter of your business long-term. The things that don’t go out of style. But the trend pieces? The ones that are right-this-minute color or style are going to drive seasonal business. So don’t pick one over the other – make sure you have both.

    That’s my unsolicited two cents from having worked on a start-up e-commerce site.

  7. Bri

    I like all the products that you have featured here as possibles. If I’ve learned nothing else from all my years in retail soaking up any bit of knowledge I could, I think your best bet is to go with your gut and pick the items that you like, the products that you believe in. It’s much easier to sell things that you know and believe in, then once you get started, you can listen to your customers and add things that they want to buy that still meet your standards.

  8. I really like Leigh’s advice of looking at TWO key customers that walk sort of a middle line together.

    I don’t think it’s totally essential that your store aesthetic match your home aesthetic. There are decisions that go into decorating a home that don’t have place in a store (think: pets, children, specific room shape needs, the taste of other family members!). Of course, what you may want to consider is “Did I have trouble finding XYZ for my home and do I think my customer would benefit from my offering a similar piece?” If you’re basing your customer wants off of your OWN wants, that may be a good place to start. But also consider the competition. If it’s not worth the time and investment to compete with other modern traditional major retailers, it may be better to concentrate on the truly unique items that you can bring together for a new look.

    Definitely follow your gut (ha, I just read Jess’s THINK ABOUT IT!) not your “but”. Oh advice rhyming.

  9. Margie

    For a vote of confidence, that is really a fabulous bag!

  10. Paula

    Congrats on the progress! I am with Bri. It looks like you have a pretty clear style. After that its go with your gut and learn as you go…And just when you think you have found the perfect bestseller it will sit around for months with everyone saying how much they love it but no one will buying it…and when you think you made a big mistake, it will fly out the door…. Wishing you a great weekend!

  11. Lots of good advice here on a really cool post! I appreciated how you were honest with yourself, faced doubt, and took steps forward. All very inspiring to someone who hears those same doubting words from time to time. Much luck on your real world adventure!

  12. Melony

    Don’t our gremlins speak up at the darnedest times? You are so wise to listen to what your gremlin is telling you (i.e. – the doubts) and then move on. Hear what your gremlin says, learn from it, and keep on keepin’ on.

    Example: “What if no ones likes it?”
    Well, Gremlin, you are right about one thing: someone is certain to not like it. But that’s okay. I like it. In fact, I LOVE it! And I know others will love it too — my target market. Besides, I’m not trying to please everyone. Pleasing everyone is playing it too safe, and boring. And I’m NOT boring!

    Keep up the good work, Piper!!! You’re making such great progress. I bet you don’t realize just yet how far you’ve come in these past few weeks. Sort of like when someone you see everyday loses 15 pounds you might not notice it as much as if you see the person only after the 15 pounds are gone.

  13. Amy

    Hang in there! And if those products are any indication of what your store will be like, it will be simply FABULOUS! I learn toward vintage, rather than modern … but I do so love color and charcter!

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