My absence has been intentional. Call it a separation of church and state. Running a business these days is like battling a hydra- the moment you cut one of the beasts heads off another appears in its place just as a hungry for your time, your energy and your creativity. The separation comes when you discover you don't really know who you are fighting for. On one hand the obvious choice is my business. After all, this is how most of you found your way here. It must be about the dresses, the brides, the bling and the budget...right? There is this whole other component to what Pearl and Birch is and its potentially the most authentic part of the store. And I am struggling to embrace that piece because it feels unnatural. It feels uncomfortable. It feels a bit narcissistic. If the boutique is the chapel then I am the lawmaker of the kingdom it resides in. And this, at first glance, seemed like a place in which the term "silent partner' might apply. I won't get in your way, and you won't get in mine and we can co-exist without confusion.
We have been open for a few months now and I was drowning. I was sort of this Oz behind the curtain trying to orchestrate a grand adventure with no real identity. Just the booming voice calling across the Instagram post waiting to reveal who and what and why I was doing what I was doing. It kept falling short. I kept feeling like I was bouncing between the shop and myself and losing my purpose in the whole production. I had a dream, an at any cost, come hell or high water vision and I was becoming invisible in my attempt to share it with my audience. In fact, I had even lost sight of who I was talking to.
I went out into the scary, saturated social media market and I started looking around at what people were using to present themselves- whether it was their brand, product, personal or business driven account- and I asked myself, "what do I gravitate towards?" I wanted to put myself at the center of the storm and really honestly ask myself who would I anchor myself to? Why did they matter to me? What parts of those representations resonated with my values, goals and dreams not just for my ideal client but also for myself and my family. The people and ideas and businesses that called out to me from the masses were the women who had found away to share their authentic selves while offering that insight so casually, so simply, that not only did it feel real and genuine and special but I felt like I could relate to them on many levels. They were talking about their fears and their day to day struggles and their relationships and I found myself being drawn into their process, their growth and their ambition. Most importantly I stopped feeling like I needed to compare myself and my online presence to their carefully curated photos and unfathomable following and I really could just enjoy their message. I kept coming back for more because they had found a way to connect with me on a level that superseded the knowledge that this is how they wanted me to feel. That I was being marketed to. They were using their voice in a way that I only scripted in my head while trying to create copy for my Facebook. Script that I never, ever shared. Because I was afraid.
I know that many of these Instagram gurus and champions of women in business on social media use these online personas to generate income and gain traction for their marketing courses. But that is not what I focused on. That is not what drove home to me what I was missing in my business that was causing me to shut down, become frustrated and feel unconnected to my potential community. It was my fear to speak from my heart, from my experience and share my authentic self. We are all just kids on the playground wondering, "what if they don't like me?''
Every time a Bride comes into the boutique I have the most amazing time. I share all sorts of silly, personal things about myself. I lay it all on the table because the truth is I don't know how to be any other way. In person, I can't restrain myself from sharing my life with my clients. I feel safe doing so in that environment because I know that once you meet me its obvious how passionate and excited I am at the prospect of just being considered to play a part in your wedding. I was terrified that without the stage being set the part I was playing would be dismissed. If only I could get you through the door then you would really see everything Pearl and Birch could offer you!
So this week I have decided to lift the proverbial veil. I am the business. The business is me. There is no way to silence one part of that without losing so much of what I am trying to achieve. I can't live my life being terrified of my own voice. There are so many times that I will see my best friend post about gender equality and human rights and my mind races with thoughts. A literal editorial will pour from my heart and I will bury it out of fear. I will bury it because I am afraid that people won't understand me. No, that's a lie. I bury it because I am afraid if I tell you what I am really thinking and why I am thinking it you will find out who I really am. You will figure out that I have gray hairs and a past and insecurities and you will dismiss my voice.
If Pearl and Birch is the chapel then I am going to stand at the pulpit and share my gospel. I opened a business to share love. To share memories. To create beauty out of darkness and provide opportunities for the entire Prairie Bridal community to connect. I opened Pearl and Birch because I believe in my heart of hearts that I have so much more to offer, so many more ways to serve through my passion. I opened Pearl and Birch because I am fortunate enough to have married a beautiful man and I, like so many of you, wondered what was next- for my dress, my decor and my heart. I am so excited to introduce to you, fully and completely, my wedding consignment boutique. I can't wait to meet you. You can never have too many friends, right?
I will be offering so many more opportunities for you to connect with Pearl and Birch Wedding Consignments. I have discovered there are a multitude of ways in which our Prairie Brides are asking for our help and I am hard at work launching our Newsletter and creating ways for you to become a part of a community that assists you in your search for the perfect dress, provides wedding inspiration, gives you local information and practical advice on a variety of topics throughout the course of your planning timeline.
I'll see you soon. I'll be turning up the volume on our Instagram and Facebook and I would love for you to cheer me on my new friends!