I spent 4 months working in retail before COVID-19 forced stores to close. I moved home and volunteered to sew masks for essential workers in my community. For the first time, I was forced to slow down and devote everything I had into Stelona, which had only ever been a dream. I got a glimpse of what it was like waking up everyday working towards something I am passionate about. Going back to work in retail made it clear what my purpose is. I quickly put my 2 weeks notice in, and the rest is history.
52 weeks later, I am starting to create samples to test and can almost see the light at the end of the tunnel. Over 365 days of fully pursuing my dreams, and I cannot imagine doing anything else! This past year, I have been challenged, learned more than I ever thought I would, and accepted that my plans better be written in pencil because life doesn't always go as planned…sometimes it’s even better!
Here are some lessons I learned and favorite moments from the past year.
Remember why you started, and where you want to go
In the midst of chaos, these are the two things that have kept me grounded. Stelona started because I knew that I could not keep this idea to myself. Too many women struggle with finding shoes that fit all of their needs. So if you’re reading this and you’re a woman, Stelona started for you. If you are a man and you’re reading this, then all I have to say is “you’re welcome” for giving you some closet space back, saving your bank account, and making the women in your life happy ;-)
I imagine moments of walking in a grocery store or out on vacation and passing women wearing Stelona Shoes. I think of conversations that will be had on how packing is not a hassle anymore, or how women felt so comfortable all day. I dream of Stelona being the go-to off the clock shoe for women, and that is where I focus on where I want Stelona to go.
You will have what you need when you need it. Figure it out with the resources available to you.
This is a hard one, but I believe it has kept me from some major mistakes that would cost me relationships, time, and money. I have always been very independent, so having to depend on others (investors) to actually make this happen has challenged me tremendously. I am passionate about building this company based off of my own hard work, time, and effort. I have never wanted my dream to cost my parents a lot of money. I don’t think there is anything wrong with relying on parents in some situations, I just know it is not the path right for me. Keeping Stelona out of crippling debt will positively benefit the company for years to come. By faith, I believe that I have enough for what I need to accomplish in the time that I am supposed to.
Stay true to yourself.
I rarely regret decisions that I have made in my life because lessons learned, even the really tough lessons, tend to grow and strengthen you as a person. What I do regret are the times when I have failed to stay true to myself. Times when I have tried to be like other successful entrepreneurs or have changed a design to try and impress someone, I have never been satisfied with the outcome. My story is unique. My product is unique. Staying true to myself is the best decision I could have ever made, because it brought me Stelona.
The right people will champion you, the wrong people will just miss out. If you try to change things according to what you think people will want, then your message will be jumbled and you won’t impress anyone. Stick to who you are, what you know, and everything else will follow. If someone else is making progress, celebrate them! Don’t think you have to be like them, though. Your story is your story, unique to you. Love it and stay true.
When I announced Stelona 6 months ago, I frequently heard, “You are living the dream!” and if you asked me 2 years ago, I would have said the same thing. The big picture is definitely my dream. However, this has also been a year of uncertainty, sacrifices, and no financial consistency. Hard times bring blessings, though. I have met the most amazing people on this journey, my joy often outweighs my stress, and there is a divine purpose in every hour of hard work I put in. All dreams are connected to hardships, and all successes are connected to hard work.
“If your dreams don't scare you they are too small.” - Richard Branson
So cheers to another year of dreaming big, staying focused on where Stelona will go, and enjoying the unforeseen journey to get there.