Lessons for a Stressed Out Kid Entrepreneur

Sometimes, life is feast or famine.  A couple of months of ease have given way to a week of total insanity, as a wholesale order, a private label order, and a major show have all come together at one time.  Mary has had to make a bunch of Reindeer Poo soaps and bags for the wholesale order and the event, and she’s feeling the stress.  On

Reindeer Poo soap
Reindeer Poo soap

top of that, she needs to make a couple of more gift sets.  And do school.  And her chores.  Yes, my sweet 11-year-old girl is in agony right now!

Well, guess what?  I’m stressed, too.  Can you imagine how awful and unproductive it’d be if both of us were stressed at the same time?  So, I’ve decided to create teachable moments from the stressful moments.  I can’t take the stress away from her.  Oh, if only I could!  The best I can do is give her tools to manage her stress.

As I type this, we’re both benefiting from one of my favorite ways to ease stress:  We’re listening to classical music.  She has heard me say dozens of times that I prefer classical when I’m strung, and this morning, Mary actually asked me to play classical today.  This is the same child who cries, “Oh, no!  Not classical again!” every time we’re in the car.  It’s working; she told me not long ago that she’s feeling much less stressed this afternoon.

This morning she asked me why I’m don’t seem very stressed.  I started to tell her, “I formulated a plan that I’m using to guide me,” but that just led to eye-rolling.  So I said, “You’re already stressed.  We can’t both be stressed.  That’d just be disastrous, so I’m going to be zen.”  My youngest piped up and said, “And if you get stressed, then I’ll be zen!  And if I’m not zen, then Daddy can be zen.  And if Daddy isn’t zen, then Grandpa can be.  And if Grandpa…”  I cut her off there with a smile and said, “Your Grandpa is always zen.”

Today, like every day this week, we’ve planned and executed.  The trite but true response to “How will we get this all done?” is simply, “We just do it.”  As we entered the last of the wrapping/labeling phase this morning, we have been able to see the fruits of our labors coming together as soaps have stacked up on the table to be transferred to bins for transporting or boxes for shipping.  Just that – seeing all this work moving from the production stage into the pre-selling stage – has been more motivating than anything else so far this week.

Earlier in the week, Mary was making bags for the Reindeer Poo soaps using my sewing machine when it started to make this really unpleasant noise.  We figured it was just struggling from lack of use.  But then, the next afternoon, the noise got louder, and the machine stopped working altogether.  Whee!  Let’s shoot that stress level up another notch or two or twelve!  Mary dug out her sewing machine, and as it fired up, a collective sigh of relief blew through the house – until that night, when it was being temperamental.  She was in tears of fatigue and frustration.  “It’ll be OK,” I told her.  “Go to bed, and we’ll attack it fresh in the morning.”  Sure enough, her sewing machine worked great the next day.

Along with all this, my youngest has been feeling left out.  She’s used to having more attention from Mommy and big sister through the day than she’s been getting this week.  There are some things she can do, but not many.  This morning, she admitted that she has been misbehaving more to get more attention.  I’ve had to be more attuned to her needs and wants, even when I’m labeling lip balms and wrapping soap and bottling Tahiti Kiss all at the same time.  Today at nap time, she said, “I’ve tried to behave better.”  She has.

While I’m used to this level of work and having to meet deadlines, Mary isn’t, so this has been a tremendous learning experience for her.  She’s had to learn time management, stress management, and the importance of working smarter instead of harder.  Those are all great lessons which will serve her well in life and business.

Holidays and Christmas

As we navigate through the coming months, you’re going to see and hear me use different words to refer to this time of the year.  Already you’ve seen references to “holiday event” and “Holiday Shoppe.”  Yet, those who know me know I’m a Christ-follower (it’s pretty much everywhere on my social media profiles) and are probably wondering why in the world I’m not referring to everything red and green as “Christmas this” and “Christmas that.”

Christmas is a holiday, a holy day.  It’s a day when we celebrate the birth of Jesus with family and friends.  This is a beautiful thing.  We observe our traditions, like attending a flotilla each year and watching Christmas specials together.  We bake Christmas cookies, and we spend time with family and friends.  The girls help me make the traditional family coconut cake for Christmas dinner with my family, and we attend a Christmas Eve Lovefeast service each year before driving around and looking at lights.

Holiday refers to this time of year marked by commercialism, secular trappings, sales, promotions, and Christmas-theme products.  This doesn’t really have a whole lot to do with the true meaning of Christmas.  Now, I know I’m a business owner, and I make and sell Christmas-themed products.  I love these products because they’re fun products to make and sell.

But you want to know something?  While I like making money from my business (otherwise, what’d be the point, ya know?), that’s not what drives me this time of year.  My absolute favorite part of selling during the holiday season is sending smiles.  It goes like this.  I pull orders off my site’s admin section, then I start pulling products, usually with the help of someone in my family.  We spread all these orders out on the table, I print off the packing slips, and we start packing these to ship.

My favorite thing is when I see the shipping address and billing address are different.  That usually means someone is getting a gift.  So I wrap their products in tissue, tie them with a bow, and attach a gift tag (this is just something we do).  The person on the receiving end of the package gets a surprise, and who doesn’t love knowing that someone else is thinking of them?  Or, if the buyer has me ship the package to them, then there’s the chance that they’re going to be wrapping those lovely goodies themselves to tuck under the tree or into stockings.  Or, perhaps a soap and a lotion will grace a powder or guest room, all ready for visiting family and friends to enjoy.

Peppermint Twist Bundle
Zippy peppermint oil makes these products smell just like peppermint candy. Yum!

Do you see where I’m going with this?  It’s all about the giving.  I might be the middle man in this lovely gift-fest, but I have the privilege every year of helping send smiles.  And love.  And fabulous soaps.  And that’s just really several layers of awesome.