"The women whom I love and admire for their strength and grace did not get that way because shit worked out. They got that way because shit went wrong, and they handled it. They handled it in a thousand differnt ways, but they handled it."
This is going to be a long one folks. Grab a snuggie, a drink, maybe some snacks, and hunker down because this is gonna to be a doozy.
I'd be lying if I told you that this was an easy post to write. But as I'm typing this, my eyeliner is streaming down my face. In fact, I’ve attempted to write this about nine times but always start crying and have to stop and step away. Who is cutting all these damn onions everytime I try and write this shit out?!
It has been an incredibly emotional 12 months. March 31st marks my one year anniversary of quitting my job and becoming a full time, independent, creative business owner. So much of being a “solopreneur” is about fucking up, putting out work that you wish you could have spent more time perfecting and apologizing for all the missteps along the way, but today, I will do none of this.
Today I celebrate the opportunities and accomplishments both big and small that I’ve gotten to experience over the last year with bobo.
But as the Elizabeth Gilbert quote has hinted above, this journey has not been without its struggles. I don’t know if there are enough words in my vocabulary to express the wide spectrum of emotions I’ve gone through in the last 12-16 months, but I’m gonna try my best to share them with you. To truly appreciate the wins, we gotta start from the bottom.
QUITTING MY JOB TO LAUNCH A BUSINESS
bobo has been around since 2008. It started as a side thing to make some extra money and to make cool shit. I started creating and selling makeup bags, baby items, and hand embroidered hoops with snarky sayings on them. I was selling at farmer’s markets and opened an Etsy store, but was never able to give bobo the love and attention I had long hoped for mainly as a result of my job. I had dreams to turn it into something big, but in retrospect, it acted more as a hobby, or a form of therapy and self-care, despite many all-nighters sewing zippers and crying over broken needles in my sewing machine at 3 am.
I had a great run working in digital brand advertising. I got to work with brands like Mercedes, Old Navy, Netflix, Red Bull, and more. I’ve created some amazing work, and have been a part of projects I am so genuinely proud to attach my name to. But despite the long hours and the hectic travel schedule, I always came back to bobo.
In 2015, I started working at an advertising company based in New York. I worked remotely with some amazingly intelligent, talented, and wonderful individuals; many of them I talk with regularly and am proud to call my friends. I enjoyed the client’s I was working with and the strategic/creative projects I was able to execute with them. However, I had a boss who I down right loathed, and he single-handedly made me hate everything about what I was doing, the industry I had grown a passion for, and made me question my future in advertising and sales. I had toyed with the idea of quitting, but completely burned by my boss, burned out from media, tired of stress and travel, I wasn’t sure I would be able to find another role or company that I could be happy or inspired at.
BUT LIKE AN OLD FRIEND WAITING FOR ME BY THE WAYSIDE, THERE WAS BOBO.
With the support from my husband, I decided to take the plunge and quit my job, ditch my fat six-figure, Bay Area salary, and become a self-employed, small business owner. I told myself that if I bombed at the bobo thing, at least I gave it a serious try, and I could always just go back to the workforce.
About three months into things, I knew that going back to media was not an option and I would do everything in my power to make bobo work. If I had to pick up 4 am shifts at a Starbucks to make ends meet but it allowed me to keep bobo going for one more day, I would do it.
The end of the honeymoon phase
The high of breaking out on my own came to a sobering halt not long after the 3-month mark. I had some wins, but I was bleeding cash, and confused with what I was doing with my dear bobo. Was I a product based business making bags? Was I a design business offering lettering and illustration services? Mix the operational issues with my insecurity in my business strategy, the onslaught of people asking me “OMG how is bobo?!” and the need to not just break down into an endless diatribe of complaints, I felt lost. No one tells you how lonely and hard it is to run a business. I was not naive about the struggles and hardships, and I honestly thought I was more emotionally equipped to handle these stresses having had demanding roles in the past, but this whole thing threw me for a loop. I had an amazing circle of people around me to prop me up, and help me at shows, and spend late nights tagging clothes for me, and of course, there was my husband by my side… but it’s just a different kind of lonely and stress that can’t be unloaded by those around you who have the best intentions.
But like I said, fuck all the self-loathing….
Despite the hardships...the never fucking ending hardships, I'm so stoked and proud of where bobo has grown in the last year. Nothing good happens from sitting on your ass and waiting for opportunities to knock on your door, so I worked my little buns off and created opportunities for myself.
bobo year in review
I know what you are about to read looks like one giant bragging fest, but guess what? IT mutha fucking IS. And I worked my ass off. Trust me, tomorrow, I’ll go back to stressing out, filling myself with doubt, questioning what I’m doing, wondering if I’ll make it another year…. But today? Today I’m proud of what I’ve done with bobo, and I can’t wait to see where we go next. If you wanna ride shotgun with me on my next adventure, be sure to sign up for my newsletter below!
THE PRODUCT SIDE OF THE HOUSE
I got to meet one someone I had been mad girl crushing over for quite some time, the famed Miss Lela Barker, and ended up working with her in her Brick House Branding course, only to later end up securing a job with her! She has tremendously helped me reposition my brand, and I’m working so hard on creating the coolest version of bobo yet.
I hired an attorney and filed for my trademark and just learned a couple of days ago that it went uncontested which means I actually own the name bobo design studio (there might have been some seriously joyous ugly crying at that moment)
I expanded my product offerings from makeup bags to include totes, apparel, and pins with some new fun stuff in the works
I booked work with some of my favorite businesses in the Bay Area making chalkboard installations for them including Redemption, all three Purple Onion Locations, Juice Co’s flagship store, and Freshly Worn.
I got to make some awesome logos and hand-lettered work for amazing businesses all over the country.
I was approached by Blurb books to fulfill a lifelong dream and illustrate a children’s book. You can buy that now at the Blurb Bookstore
I did some super fun licensing work and custom designs for apparel. In fact, one of my designs was featured in an ad for Bonfire.
I got to join the Mixbook crew at Alt Summit alongside some of my lettering idols for some fun, interactive experiences in their booth
I did a bunch of shows with Pottery Barn, Patchwork, San Jose Made, and SF Etsy. I even was tapped by SF Etsy to make the official event swag bag for all the vendors and staff.
I was asked by Westfield to participate in a live event for Mother’s Day where I was one of two featured artists creating custom hand-lettered cards for their American Express Day Mother’s Day event.
I launched bobo workshops with the help from my dear friends at San Jose Made, a passion project to help bring other types of art based classes to adults. In 4 months, I taught 7 sold out chalk lettering workshops!
And that brings me here, at the cusp of a new year for bobo. I have so much in the works that I just can't believe im here, doing what I love for a living. It's a hard but priveldged experience that I don't take for granted. If you want to know more about my journey, or what's to come, please follow along and join my Posse!
Thanks for an amazing year ya'lls. Onto the next one!
Hugs & High Fives,