What I’ve Learned since Starting a Business with Hubby
June 19, 2017
One of the things that always scared me about marriage was the thought that maybe the person I chose would end up being an undercover jerk. So almost-three-years ago when I married one of the sweetest guys I’d ever met, I just took the leap, even though there was still a small fear that he may not actually be as nice as he seemed to be. I quickly got over this fear—I could easily see that James is actually as nice as he seems. It’s interesting to look back on the last three years and think about how little I actually knew James, and how much we’ve grown in these few years. And I can also see my 50-year-old self laughing at my 30-year-old self for thinking we’ve grown so much. But all I know is now, right?
James and I are so different. I knew this from the beginning. I come from a crazy, big family who centers life and socializing around good food and loud conversation full of strong opinions. James comes from a smaller, calmer game-playing family who has no problem letting hot food sit on the counter before eating it, while my brother-in-law (also from a crazy, big family) and I cringe and do our best to encourage a meal to begin. James is quiet, I’m a talker. He loves sports, I love Jane Austen. I’m a crier, he is not. But somehow, among all these differences, we still really like each other and get along really well.
One thing we do have in common is that we’re both idea people. Like big ideas. We have these dreams of doing big things and we talk about how they’ll happen, but sometimes our ideas are a little too big to execute without a lot of money and time. One of the smaller ideas we’ve talked about a lot is starting some sort of wedding business. A little over a month ago, we were in the car and I was scrolling through a Facebook yard sale page. I noticed a couple was selling their small wedding décor rental business. I didn’t think James would want to do it, but I asked, “Am I crazy for being interested in this?” The price seemed good, and it was something we could do from home. I was surprised when James seemed up for it, so I contacted the couple. Fast forward a few weeks, and we had purchased the small business.
I’ve been thinking about the things I’ve learned about us in this short time. We’ve experienced moves, having a child, struggles, excitement, and more, but this is something we haven’t been through yet. Here’s are a few things I’ve discovered since we’ve started this business:
I’m a little impulsive and James is not. I kind of already knew this, but I’ve re-realized it in the last few months. When I want to buy something, I usually just go in, find something I like, and get it. This includes big purchases. Like cars. When I was 23, my dad and I went to a dealer and left that day with a 2-year-old Honda Civic. When I wanted a bike, I went into Sport’s Authority, found a good deal within a few minutes, and left with a bike. This probably sounds scary to some people, but I actually haven’t had too many bad experiences with this. But since starting this business, I’ve learned that this isn’t always the best mentality to have. Luckily, James has helped reign me in a few times when I could have gotten us into trouble (i.e. paying way too much for something because I didn’t actually read the contract, renting a storage container that would have been way too big for our driveway, etc.). I’m learning to run things by him first since I tend to keep my head in the clouds at times (thus the name La La Mandy).
Working while chasing a toddler can be interesting. When we were first thinking about where to run the business, I imagined a few things: a) an office where I could let Haven (who is now 20 months old) and our forthcoming baby boy nap and play while I worked and b) keeping our décor at home and meeting people in quaint cupcake shops where I’d buy them a little treat and show them a neatly organized folder with all of our beautiful vintage and rustic décor. When I shared this vision with James, he asked, “In your vision, is Haven sitting there quietly?” This question brought me back to reality. The only time Haven sits quietly is when she’s watching “Baby Signing Time” or when the stars are aligned. I love my little girl and wouldn’t change her, but she isn’t what I’d call an easygoing kid. Even when she’s being good, she’s not one to just sit in a chair, quietly snacking on a cupcake.
We took her with us to a beautiful orchard to take pictures of our decorations and at first, she was great. She followed us back and forth while we set up ladders and suitcases and cake stands. But then she started to get restless. It began with some simple pebble throwing in a little water fountain, and ended with throwing herself on the grass and rolling around in toddler-agony. She’d had it, but we had to keep going. We just let her continue thrashing around in the grass because at least she wouldn’t hurt herself.
It might not be the most professional thing to have a toddler crying in the background when someone calls to rent a vintage couch, but I guess that’s just real life and that’s what’s going to happen sometimes.
I’m tired. You may or may not remember that I’m pregnant. It turns out we’ve got a big baby boy who likes to kick me day and night (I should start a YouTube channel dedicated to my moving belly). I was a little overzealous a month ago when I thought I’d have endless amounts of energy just because I wanted it. Even though being passionate about what I’m doing has helped me work hard, there have been a few nights when I’ve grumpily told James, “I’m sorry, I’m just too tired to help you,” and he’s had to take care of things himself. And he always has without any complaint.
James is a hard worker. I already knew this, but he’s shown just how much of a hard worker he is. There have been a lot of days where he’s worked all day at his full-time job, then come home and worked some more on the business until it got dark. And on his days off, he either does yard work almost all day or does all the manual stuff for the business. Over the weekend, we took some more pictures of our items when he got home from work. I had to leave for a little bit to go to the pharmacy, and when I came back, he insisted that instead of helping him put everything away, I go inside and get started on the cookies I was planning to make. After about a half an hour, I knew he had to be done, but he was still outside. I opened the door and said, “I want to hang out with you!” and surely enough, there he was, weeding the garden with the little light that was still lingering.
We work well together. I wasn’t sure how we would work running a business together because we’re both pretty passionate about our ideas and sometimes they collide. At first I even suggested that we kind of work on the business separately, but James wasn’t supportive of that. “I think we should work together,” he said. And even though in my heart I didn’t totally agree, I went for it. It turns out we can work well together, but probably mostly because James is very patient and kind. It also turns out that our differences have come in handy (see I’m a little impulsive and James is not above).