Happy Anniversary, Twila & Co!

Yes! It's Twila & Co.'s anniversary...kind of. We technically have two...If you're counting since I started the business and filed a business name, then technically it was six years in January. But I like to count when I took the plunge and went full time. And since that's TODAY, let's celebrate the fact that it's been THREE YEARS since I took Twila & Co. FULL TIME!

Three long, short, crazy, tiring, mind-blowing, teary, stressful, roller coaster of three years.

I was actually thinking the other day that  I've ever really shared my business 'story' before, or talked about how I ended up working for Twila full time. I guess I just never really thought it mattered too much. But I think it's important to know where you came from, almost as important as knowing where you're going. Your past is what builds you up to who you are today. Without those experiences or hardships, you wouldn't be where you are now...which is exactly where you're supposed to be (trust me on that!).

Six years ago, I was out of college and couldn't find a full-time job, so luckily for me, my dad hired me part-time, gave me a desk in his office, and I started a small business doing random jobs for him and some of his colleagues. I got all my business licensing, because, why not? I always wanted my own business, but I felt like I was 'too young' and too inexperienced at 22 to know what I was doing. So I kept applying for jobs in Northern Virginia because that's what I thought I was supposed to do. That was the 'logical' next step for me.

Get a good job. Have insurance. Get an apartment. Pay the bills. Live on my own. I can do this.

Well, I finally found a job in Springfield as a Marketing Specialist and boy was it AWFUL. I had to punch in at exactly 8am, and punch out at exactly 5pm. One minute late in the mornings and they'd deduct 15 minutes from your pay. If you've ever seen the show The Office, this is exactly what it was like except on a larger scale and not at all fun. We had Diversity Days, Chili Cook-Offs...I even made a video and hosted our version of the 'Dundies.' Talk about an introverts worst nightmare...at least I got to wear a pretty dress.

Lucky for me, I found those videos last night. Unlucky for you, I will definitely not be sharing them. 

I could go on and on about all of the terrible things that happened to me at that job. I could write a book. And for a creative, you know how much boundaries and red tape can just absolutely suck the life out of you. I was angry all the time. I was stressed all the time. I was a completely different person.

And at first, I thought it just happened to be that job and company that I hated. If I found another job, all would be fixed! So I looked for another job.

That's when I found an amazing opportunity as a Creative Director for a non-profit in Manassas. They took a chance on me, and while every jobs has it's ups and downs, this one was much better than where I was and I was so thankful. I had freedom to kind of make my own hours. I got to layout, design and edit books on children's energy education. I got to travel a lot. And I worked with some great people. 

During all of this, I was still working part-time for myself. Little projects here and there. And most importantly, I started an online e-magazine called 'Twila' that I poured my life into. As much work as it was, I LOVED that magazine. That's what got me through each day.

But it still wasn't enough for me. I wasn't getting to work on the projects I wanted to. I wasn't able to be creative enough. I wasn't able to be my own boss (I'll be honest, I don't like being managed by anyone other than myself; that's just me). And it just wasn't where I was supposed to be.

While still working in Northern VA, I moved back to Fredericksburg because my sister was sick and I wanted to be closer to home. And to be honest, I really did not like living in Northern VA. I was ready to be out. My home was Fredericksburg. So I commuted. Three hours in the car each day, there and back, for 6 very long months. 

I knew in my heart that I was meant to work for myself. So during this time, I renovated a house my dad owned to live and have an office in; I paid off any debts I had and saved some money; I started getting the word out to people about my company; and I started building my business little by little so that when I finally finished my job in Northern VA, I would be ready. 

On that fateful day, I went into my bosses office and I explained to her what I was turning in my notice that I wanted to work for myself! I've never done anything so scary yet exciting. Since I was just going to work for myself, my departure date was negotiable and I stayed on to train the person taking my place. Not only that, but my boss gave me my first large creative project that helped sustain my new company for the first 3 months of business while I continued to get everything in order. To this day, I wouldn't be where I am without her. 

So in April of 2013, I started full time with my business. And I've never looked back. Yes, it's hard. And yes, you can do 6 months of preparation and think that you've totally prepared yourself for owning and business, but I will tell you: nothing truly prepares you. 

There are days where I want to scream and cry and throw in the towel. Where I am so unsure of myself that I wonder where the hell I'm going with all of this and what is the purpose of everything. Days that I would KILL to get a regular pay check because I'm tired of tracking people down just so I can buy groceries. I am so fearful of failing every day. I fall into the comparison trap and put myself down and wonder how someone like me could even be worthy of having their dream come true. 

But then you have the good days. The days where I can work from home in my yoga pants and hang out with my sweetest little pup. The moment a client comes back and says they LOVE their new logo; you just made my DAY. Or when a bride is surprised at a gift box I gave her that matches her wedding invitations, and we both end up tearing up a little bit together because it means that the wedding of her dreams is one day closer. It's those little moments that make my LIFE. Those moments are what make this all worth it. 

I absolutely LOVE what I do. And I worked hard to get here. And you can too! I know the feeling, of working part-time, staying up late to get everything done, not having a life outside of work, not having a brain cell left to keep going. Waking up early to go to a job you hate just so you can leave at 5 and get back to the real projects you want to work on.

I've been there. And it sucks...but don't give up! Keep working for that dream. And trust me, you'll know when the timing is right. When it feels like you just want to give up and you can't do one more day of both...just keep going. You're almost there. 

I am sitting here now in the middle of a disastrous office as I rearrange and redecorate everything (again) and I can't help but think that despite how crazy, exhausting, and down right awful running your own business can be, I am beyond lucky to have this incredible opportunity. I am beyond lucky for the friends and supporters I've made along this journey. I am beyond lucky for my boyfriend and family who have helped in more ways than they could have every imagined just by allowing me to be ME. I am beyond lucky that God has given me these opportunities that have lead me to where I am today. 

So thank you, Thank You, THANK YOU!

From the bottom of my heart for helping me make Twila & Co. what it is today. I couldn't have done it without you.

xoxo, Johnna

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