If you have been alive on planet earth for awhile, you probably know or have heard of the book, Oh, The Places You'll Go. It's often gifted to graduates of high school, college, and preschool alike mostly due to the fact that we, as a culture and society, love to look to the future. We are obsessed with the blank slate before us and oh, the possibilities that are out there. You can BE whatever you want. You can DO whatever you want. You can chase ANY dream. We get all warm and fuzzy thinking about the endless possible outcomes for our lives, our children's lives etc.
But, I think, its even more important to look back at all of the places you've been. To stand back, taking a look at the bigger picture and connecting all of the dots of your life that have led you to where you are today. I'm going to give a bit of a BTS of my story and how I came to create GBE.
So, that's me, circa 2005. I had one dream. I wanted to become a singer/songwriter and country music's BIGGEST star. I started writing songs at 12, taught myself guitar freshman year of high school, I won a singing competition in my hometown between my junior and senior year of high school that prized me with studio time where I recorded a few songs of mine in a house studio. Super rough, super grainy, but alas, it was studio time and I thought it was the coolest. One thing led to another and that super basic demo got into the hands of the VP of A+R at SONY NASHVILLE, which led to a meeting, which led to me moving to Nashville, which led to getting a publishing and recording contract.
There I was sitting pretty in writing rooms, record label buildings, and recording studios with the best in Nashville, trying to create my first record. It was what I had always wanted and I was right there. I was playing at the Bluebird Cafe, opening songwriter's rounds for Grammy award winning songwriters. Even in doing ALL of that, you could feel the exclusivity. You had to be "IN" the circle to be in the circle. And it was just near impossible to break into it. To the music industry outsider, I was in, I had made it. To me, an "insider" I never fully felt included or like I was "in". I released my debut album in 2014 and soon after parted ways with my label.
After shifting gears and becoming a full time stay at home mom, I felt the need for a little something for myself. I have a teaching degree, but also wanted to stay at home with my kids. So, I started hand lettering in 2015 as a stress reliever and outlet. I had also heard of a little thing called Etsy, and decided to start selling my hand lettered pieces.
Over time, this evolved into a full blown business, Woodworks + Co. where I was creating hand lettered home goods and my husband was creating custom furniture. We did the markets, the Etsy shop, word of mouth, you name it. I was loving the marketing aspect of it, as I thrived on really thinking over how to market my music over the years. It was almost my favorite part of the whole thing. After a few years, Woodworks + Co. was having great success, but I still had felt I wasn't hitting the nail on the head with my purpose and mission. So, we closed up shop at its peak of business as it was the right move for our family AND for what I felt was ahead.
I began noticing that SO many moms and women in the Cincinnati area had started their own businesses for the same reasons I had. They needed something for themselves outside of "momming it" and/or working their normal 9-5. I thought, "THAT'S IT", we need to create a community where we can ALL encourage each other in life AND the pursuit of owning a business. A place with no exclusivity. Where it feels like family and no one is on the "outside".
Thus, GBE was born
I tell you (the very condensed version) my story to show that what you think "is it" is not always going to be what it is. I thought I was set in my music career, I had what I had always wanted, but there was a bigger plan for me. I REALLY struggled for a long time with letting go of what I thought was going to be for what was supposed to be. And, I know that this isn't just my story. It's so many of your stories as well.
Do I miss the music industry? Occasionally. Do I dwell on the fact that I'm not doing that anymore? Not really, it feels like a completely different life. Don’t get me wrong, music still has a huge part of my heart. But looking back on your past experiences and learning from them and applying what you learned is key to the next step in life. We are FOR SURE excited about the places we're going with GBE, but we're even more excited about how we've learned from our past experiences and how that creates a full circle moment. Those are the best.