"For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope." - Jeremiah 29:11
I opened my first blog post with this verse, and I find it just as appropriate for today's reflection too. If you've been following me for a while you know about my career change just over two years ago... and my walking through an open door. This unsettling feeling I had been having for the previous months wouldn't go away, so I made the decision to leave my very stable role as a pediatric hematology/oncology nurse and run this very unstable pillow shop full-time. To mitigate a little bit of the financial risk, I took a part-time job as a school nurse that would allow me more time in my workroom but also provide a small but consistent income.
So much for financial security because just a few months into this role, the world came to a screeching halt with the pandemic. Our local schools shut down for the remainder of the semester, and I was furloughed. Being dependent on the pillow-shop completely for income at that point was a scary thought, but just as things do, things worked out. God is good, and He provides.
The shop, to my surprise, continued to grow, so when the schools opened again in the fall of 2020, I was able to return as PRN instead of part-time. This meant instead of covering a school every day of the week, I would work just 2-3 days a week or less which helped me remain in the workroom even more. (I wrote a little more about this in my blog post from one year ago reflecting on 2020.)
2021, my second year running the shop full-time, was even more exciting but also more challenging than 2020. Supply chain crises and price increases were the theme, and unfortunately it seems we haven't seen the end of it yet. The shop still grew even through these challenges, and I've been so humbled by all of the continued kind words and feedback you share with me.
So, this little summary brings me to today's reflection... facing a new year with its own potential challenges and decisions to be made.
Just as open doors (like the one I walked through just 2 years ago) can bring new opportunities and new directions, closed doors can deliver the same. Closed doors are just as directive as open ones, and although closed doors seem to have a negative connotation, they actually can be quite liberating. I think most of us are understandably always in search for an open door. Something to move us forward. Something to get us out of our current situation, whatever it may be. But closed doors can also be the much needed answer to prayer. A closed door may feel as though you're being held back, or maybe even left out, but closed doors can lead to greater opportunities than we can ever imagine. One thing I've had to learn the hard way (and I'm sure you have too) is that God's timing is perfect. Whether He is pushing a door closed, or whether we are trying our hardest to keep it open, we should not be discouraged. Again, God is good, and He provides.
Over the Christmas holidays, I spent a lot of time in my workroom organizing inventory, rearranging a few things, and reflecting on this past year. Some more unsettling feelings have been creeping back in again recently, and I've been contemplating more decisions for myself and the pillow shop.
When I first opened Mississippi Stitches (circa 2015-ish as a side gig) I offered a selection of embroidered items in my shop and at local markets in which I participated. Because I opted not to do any markets in 2021 and because of material price increases, I haven't been making these embroidered items anymore. But, I also haven't been able to let go of the materials I've been hoarding the past few years. I haven't been able to close the door... until now. Out of pure necessity because I desperately need the storage space, I finally parted ways with the remaining materials I had stored, and I sold all of my embroidery thread (to a really good home thankfully!). To be completely honest, I really had hoped no one would take the materials off my hands. It would be my excuse to keep hoarding it all. I know it seems silly. It's just thread (that has been collecting dust on a shelf), but it's also how Mississippi Stitches got its start. A simple reminder of the beginning stages... a reminder of the very first products I ever made... of my very first sale... of my very first market. All of which got me to where I am today. Closing this door gives me new direction to focus solely on pillows for the shop, and it also gives me a pretty solid excuse when someone asks for a monogrammed tea towel!
This same unsettling feeling is pushing me to let go in other ways too. Towards the end of 2021, because I was being pulled in so many directions, I found myself making several sacrifices in the shop. My routine was very broken up, and although my planner kept me on track for the most part, I still struggled to keep up with daily shop tasks. On days I worked at the school, I was away from my workroom for oftentimes a full day because of the school's driving distance. This meant missed daylight hours for photography or missed office days for bookkeeping and strategizing. Most importantly, it meant my sewing days weren't quite as efficient as they needed to be. I feel confident it is time to take another leap. Yesterday was my last day as a school nurse. As of today, February 1st, it is just me and the pillow shop. No more side gig. No part-time nursing. No PRN nursing. As much as I keep trying to leave this door open, it seems letting it close is the better decision for now.
Allowing this door to close has actually brought me more peace than anxiety. Closed doors are funny like that. I'm generally of the mindset that the more options you have the better, but sometimes having more options can leave you less focused on what's most important. My mind has felt so scattered the last several months, and letting go of some things feels quite freeing.
2022 is going to be full of uncertainty, and I've already experienced a few challenges only a few weeks into the year. But, yet again, God is good, and He provides. His plan is never to lead you somewhere and then walk away. God doesn't dine and dash. He doesn't play hide and seek. He is not here today, gone tomorrow. He is always present. He is always leading. He is always pushing. Be faithful and trust.
So what's next? With these exhausting decisions, I'd like to say I can take a breath for a minute. However, January has already been busier than last, and in just a few weeks there will be so many new pillows in the shop. There is so much to be done in preparation for new products!
My goal for 2021 was to simply increase my sales, but my goal for this year is to be more efficient and more productive in the shop. Being able to spend my time focusing on the shop alone will hopefully help me accomplish this. There are so many services I want to offer you - more customizations, more renderings to help you decide which size fits best in your space, more insight into how to select multiple patterns that will coordinate, and so much more. Until now there simply hasn't been the time.
With all the ideas I have swirling in my head, I'm hopeful at least one of them will come to fruition this year. Make sure you are subscribed to my newsletters so you can stay up to date on the latest product launches and see which idea gets jump started first! I'm looking forward to a more organized and less scattered routine in the shop, and I'm excited about the additional time I can spend making sure your orders are crafted and packaged so carefully. I cannot thank you enough for your support for my little shop. Let's get 2022 started off with a bang!