Among the reasons we launched the Flea Style Summit last month is to inspire creatives to take that leap, launch that business and live that dream.
And there is nobody better to enlighten and encourage than Melinda Jones of Read Between the Lines, The Vintage Round Top’s Paige and Smoot Hull, and Manready Mercantile founder Travis Weaver, who were at the Summit to share their start-up tales and tips during the first panel discussion of the day: Boss Stories.
And what did they glean from their early days? What advice do they have for those who want to launch a creative business from scratch?
1. Get started.
"You can start something from nothing. You just have to believe that you can," says Travis, who literally started making candles in his kitchen in 2012, and now sells his successful men’s collections both online and in a brick-and-mortar store. Whatever it is that you're passionate about can be anything from a fulfilling hobby to a profitable business. You don't have to have a graduate school education or a pile of investor money to go for it. You just need inspiration and faith in yourself.
You also need patience and the ability to see opportunity when it's presented, Smoot says.
2. Live with intention.
That's the most important thing, says Smoot, who worked side-by-side with wife Paige to launch a vacation rental and antiques business in Round Top, Texas, around the same time that Travis was making those first candles. Get up every day with a purpose — and don't let anything stop you from living it. Feeling afraid? That's OK. "Walk through the fear," he says. "Don't let the stories in your head direct you."
3. Listen to your heart.
Unclear about what your intention should be? That's easy, says Melinda, who opened her Dallas gift shop in 2013. “That thing that won’t leave you alone? Listen to that thing. Honor that thing." If you've always felt a pull toward textiles, explore that. If you can imagine yourself spending every day at a pottery wheel or refinishing furniture, there's probably something to that. "Don’t ignore it. That’s what you were meant to do,” Melinda says.
4. Pay attention to your head.
Be judicious and take things one step at a time, says Paige. She advises budding creatives to start with a side project if that’s what it takes. “Love what you do, but don’t feel like you need to do it all at once,” she says. Put in the time. Know your strengths and weaknesses. Keep your overhead low. And ask for help when you need it.
5. Expect to work very hard for not a lot of money.
Travis, for example, took his handmade candles door to door in a vintage wooden crate. If that sounds like a tough way to make a living, it was. Starting out with very little and working long hours without a big paycheck — yet still loving every minute of it — was a theme that ran through the Summit. However, not one person seemed to mind it: Following your arrow is its own reward.
To see more from our Summit — and hear more wise words from our panelists — watch our video.