How my business fell apart

I feel like I should explain why I've recently launched a collection of socks and arm warmers on the site. While they are made by some awesome independent companies, they are not handmade nor organic nor particularly Irish (except maybe these fingerless gloves). The story behind this might get fairly long and personal, so brace yourself.

Early 2010s: Getting into happy socks before Happy Socks was trendy.

Back in the early 2010s, I started a small business with someone I was in a relationship with. I decided that we would sell socks for no other reason that I wanted something colourful, fun and slightly different! Neither one of us had any idea what we were on about and I ended up doing the website, social media, marketing, accounting, shipping, packing, legal paperwork, and inventory buying. Looking back, I'm not really sure what he did.

I learned a lot, but I was also woefully ignorant of everything I didn't know because I was neither getting nor seeking help from anyone.  I quickly became overwhelmed with everything that needed to be done and frustrated because sales were sporadic (at best).

My first collaboration with an influencer resulted in some beautiful - and surprisingly timeless - photos.

One of the few things I was the most proud of and actually enjoyed was the collaborations and engaging with online communities. Before Instagram and social media ambassadors was a widespread thing, I tried to use the shop to promote young talent such as Christina Mun (who now works as a digital photographer and filmmaker). It's something I still try to incorporate into my business today with reps and influencers. 

My brother and I in December 2012. I came to appreciate my family much more when I went through some tough times in my mid-20s.

Not unsurprisingly, my ex and I went through a bad breakup in late 2012. I lost half of my inventory plus a significant amount of savings because he claimed he "needed it more than me". Being young and naive, I thought he was right and didn't argue. In hindsight, I believe he showed some emotionally manipulative tendencies and contributed to me distancing myself from my family and closest friends. 

Sick of putting in a lot of effort for nothing and the constant worry about money, I worked a regular job for the next couple of years. I wanted safety and to be rewarded for my work. My inventory moved with me every time I changed apartment, but I never found the energy to do something about it (boy, am I glad socks don't have an expiration date!). I always had half a mind to start up something again, but the horrible experience I had with my first business and previous relationship put me off.

In 2016 I came to Ireland to work for a tech company in "Silicon Docks"

It took several jobs, a new relationship, a new country and finding back to my passion for books for me to launch Literary Lip Balms in 2016. It took another 4 years to unpack my old inventory. There are a lot of emotions and dreams tied to something seemingly simple like socks.

I've put up a small amount for now and might release more later the year. The majority of these designs have been discontinued and are not available anywhere else in the world.

There were some tough lessons with my first business, but things are very different now. My experience in marketing and design over the past years makes my approach Literary Lip Balms completely differently. I structure my days better and I am quick to ask for help when I need it. I have the full support of my partner, friends and family. And I have a sense of self worth that is not dependant on someone's opinion or the success (financial or otherwise) on the projects I choose to spend my time on. For me, that's the most important thing.

No one gets it perfect the first time around.

Leave a comment

All comments are moderated before being published