Saturday, March 5, 2011

Tops for Tots

I unintentionally ran a home based business from 1993-2000. It started when my son was born 14 months after my daughter was born (also unintentional). Unlike his big sister, he didn't come out of the womb with a shock of thick, dark hair covering his head. Also unlike his sister, I couldn't dress him up with ribbons and bows. So to me, he sometimes seemed half dressed with nothing on his bald, albeit cute, little noggin.

At that time in my life, at home all day with two very little children, I maintained my sanity by spending lots of time behind the sewing machine as well as at the fabric store. In fact, it was at a fabric store where I discovered a pattern for baby baseball caps. What a revelation! It never occured to me that I could make a baseball hat, let alone one for a baby. But in the end, I would end up making over a thousand.

The hats were created solely for Nick at first. Then I started making them for baby showers that I had been invited to. Soon, friends who were going to other baby showers started calling and placing orders. This led to the idea that I might be able to sell them at the Wymount Terrace yard sales on Saturday mornings. The first time I sold out of hats in less than an hour...I knew I was on to something good.

This is where my dad comes in. He knew the buyer for a baby boutique in American Fork called "Little Things Mean A Lot". Sharon agreed to look at my hats to see if they would be a good fit for the store. She really liked them, but suggested a few tailoring tips that would make them look more professional, which I immediately implemented.

After filling a couple of orders for her store I began to feel more confident in my product. I started approaching other baby boutiques in the valley. At one point I had hats in three different stores in Utah. They took me 1/2 hour to make and cost anywhere between $1 to $2 dollars for the materials. I sold them for $6, the stores turned around and sold them for $12-16 each.

At the climax of my little business I found myself sitting with the buyer for the Nordstrom store in downtown Salt Lake City. To my surprise, she wanted to order a dozen hats and run a test market on them. I was dizzy as I drove home. Dizzy with excitement and the magnitude of it all. I started adding up everything I would have to do to be a supplier for a national chain, starting with getting insurance and a business license to hiring other women to help with the manufacturing.

But as I pulled into the driveway of my house, a house that was filled with three beautiful children and all the love I could ever want...I instantly, without a doubt or even a nod of regret, knew that I would not be fetching a business license anytime soon. I waited a few weeks and called Nordstrom to let her know my decision and I have never looked back.

I sold hats in my little boutiques for four more years and two more children after that. Then one day while filling an order, between nursing my fifth child and packing my family to move across the country to Baltimore, I knew it was time. I finished the hat I was working on, wrote a letter of apology for the partial order, as well as one of thanks for the years of patronage, and closed shop.

I opened it once more a couple of years later when I was desperate for airfare to fly back to Utah for a visit but never again since then.

How fun that was and how lucky I am to have that chapter in my life, unintentional or otherwise. I know without a doubt, that this was just one instant of many where the inspired leaders of our church taught me the truth about the true meaning of success.

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