Starting from the Bottom

“If an opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door.” – Milton Berle

The desire to start my own business has never been stronger. As usual, Pinterest (and several other social media sites) usually do the trick at making me feel like I can start my own business, but there’s a few things I have to figure out first.
I guess we can start with this: I’m an English major. I don’t know a thing about business or how to run one. This whole dream of starting my own business started when I was 13 with a blank notebook and a pencil. I sketched outfits on my blank pages, but I wasn’t any good. I didn’t discover my better art talents until I was in college.

Throughout high school, I was obsessed with the CW show, Gossip Girl. If I’m being honest, I still am. The beginning seasons of the series show one of the characters designing her own dresses and attempting to start her own line. I wanted that so badly – a name, a brand, a sewing machine that worked…

One Christmas, my mom thought to get me a sewing machine because I was helping my grandma with little projects when I was in elementary and middle school. The only thing I knew how to do was step on the pedal to make the sewing needle move slower or faster. It was fun when I was younger to help her make quilts of all kinds, but little did I know, sewing was more complex than that. And so was sewing dresses – it was a totally different world.

The sewing machine sat in my hall closet for years and I tried to take it out a couple of times to learn. I almost threaded the bobbin after learning from a YouTube video, but something was wrong with the sewing machine. My mom thought it was because she didn’t buy a brand new one and this one had problems. It didn’t run properly and wouldn’t sew.

I thought, “I’ll save up and just buy a brand new one. This is something I really want to do.” I couldn’t spend the money on a new machine though. I knew it would sit in the closet and collect even more dust even though I so desperately wanted to sew one dress just for me. I sketched a dress in college I’d envisioned making since I started watching Gossip Girl. It was simple and didn’t look like it could be that complicated, but I don’t know anything about sewing. The whole process would be a learning experience.

I wanted a white dress with straps and buttons down the stomach. Simple, right? Wrong. Where do I get the fabric? How much fabric do I get? How do I factor in my measurements? How do I even sew the right size with those measurements? The questions were endless and they still are. I’m 22 and still haven’t learned to use a sewing machine and not for lack of trying…well, sort of. I could take a class or learn on my own, but it’s a time-dedicated process. I begged my grandma to teach me for years, but I’ve given up on asking because ten years have passed and I still have yet to learn from her.

I wanted to sew my own dresses and make them. In college, I thought I could start my own business from this method. Was I crazy? I can’t make dresses once the orders start pouring in – in the hopes that they would. I would need a team to help me. How could I afford to pay a team with this…let’s just call it a “business”…in its beginning stages?

I understand now that a business is more complex than this. I still have the sketches of my white dress and other clothing designs in a manila folder tucked away holding on to hope. I want to learn how to sew so I can make things for myself and see if I’m any good. Maybe it’s an undiscovered talent that I’ve been waiting to find this whole time. Who knows? What I know is this: I want this. I’ve wanted to start a business more than anything since college. I just don’t know what I’m doing.

I could write all the content for my website and product descriptions, I could probably design my own logo, I could figure out how to build my own website since I know my way around WordPress pretty well, and I could make it work as I go. The only problem is operating the business. President’s and C.E.O.’s of companies are always stressed for a reason.

The opportunity to start my own business has never presented itself. I guess I’m just going to have to build a door and start from the bottom if I want this badly enough.

First order of business: buy a sewing machine, and maybe come up with a business plan. I will find a way to bring my ideas together to create something magical. I will have a brand that is memorable and it will be successful. After all, it’s the power of positive thinking that helps achieve dreams, right? Watch out world, Christina is on her way to bigger things.

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