“It takes 3 to 5 years to set up your business” were the first words my coach Noella said to me. “yeah, right. I’ll fix this sooner”, was my reply. Now 5 years later I have to admit she was right. Right in a way I faces a lot of challenges in the past 5 years. Wrong in a way, I’m there and understand the game of business.
It all started with a few custom-made mats I made as an IKEA hack for LiveLoudGirl. They were a big hit at our home with 3 little kids (of which one newborn back then). So I decided to make a few extra. Went on the hunt to find good fabrics that suited my style (you all know it’s colourful and ‘off-beaten-track’). That was challenging and fun.
It quickly became evident I wanted not only to make playmats, but also designing the fabrics myself. But not being trained as a graphic designer, this is a different cup of tea from the skills I’m used to. I tried a few things and worked together with Fox in the Snow, Studio Zwaanstraat, and Afternoon Stories to help me with specific designs. Along the way I became more confident in my own ideas, so started to draw and combine images to create the epic ByAlex designs. And always and always I’m in doubt if I’m making the right choices. Is this colour ok, should it be a bit lighter? We’re in the neutral trend, zo why do I keep making the colourful playmats? (answer: I like it better).
Besides designing fabrics, running a business is far more than that. It involved financial planning (preferably ahead and not afterward when you made a mess out of it). It involves thinking ahead to opportunities and challenges on your path. Face these challenges and not acting like an ostrich by butting your head in the ground.
It’s not in my nature to be a great leader, a true business lady. So the above things are things I’m still learning along the way (read my other blog about this). And to be honest, the biggest hurdle isn’t the financial part, it’s not the design choices nor the 24/7 workweek. It’s my own doubtful mind. Am I doing it right? What do I need to do to create the IT mat? How the hack are other brands doing this seamlessly effortless? And so on…
But hé, we are all walking our own trail. And looking back at the day 5 years ago. The day I went to the chamber of commerce with my little girl in my arms and a toddler in the other hand. I cannot stop smiling. I’m writing this blog in my own studio in Rotterdam. With a big pile of playmats around me. Having a team of 2 great ladies next to me and a network of trusty suppliers and great sewing ladies across the country.
I’m proud of what I have accomplished in the past 5 years and look with positive energy up to the upcoming 5 years. Because there are so many families around the globe that could use a moment of attention and true connection. My mission isn’t completed yet.
Let’s always remember to make each day count!