Cheers to a year!: What I've learned in my first year of Direct Sales

Thursday, July 28, 2016

One year ago this very day, I was a ball of nerves. I had a lot of questions, a lot of excitement, and a lot of fear. One year ago today, I was planning to join a Direct Sales company - something I really never saw myself doing -  I loved the products, and I loved my baby, and I loved my sanity, and I loved the idea of working at home. But, I need to back up a bit. 

In February of 2015, I gave birth to the most beautiful boy on the planet. Yes, I'm completely biased. I'd spent almost ten years as a high school English and Journalism teacher, and it's a GIANT understatement to say I loved my job. I loved having conversations with my students about writing and reading and life. I loved seeing the light bulbs go off when a concept suddenly made sense or a student remembered something we'd talked about previously. I loved the connections I made as a teacher - the connections I made with students, the connections students made to the material, the connections I had with my coworkers. I loved teaching. I still love teaching. 

But I held that sweet baby in my arms, and I just knew I wasn't ready to go back to teaching. I wasn't ready to go in early or stay late. I wasn't ready to bring home 110 research papers to grade. I wasn't ready to lesson plan into the wee hours of the night and morning. I wasn't ready to leave our son. And so my husband and I made the decision that I would stay home with our little man. And I felt very at peace with that. 

But when he was around five-months-old, I started to get the itch. I missed working. I missed accomplishing goals. I missed feeling productive. I missed talking to other human adults (or teenagers, or just people who could talk back to me). So, I started looking at my options. 

I'd been introduced to KEEP Collective just before our son was born. I went to an online Social my friend was having, and I fell in love with some of the pieces because they were a part of me. There was a mom Key (charm) that I knew I wanted to have. And there was a heart shaped padlock - part of how my husband proposed, and an integral part of our wedding - and once I saw that, I fell hook, line, and sinker for this collection. I'd always shied away from hostessing Direct Sales parties, but this line was too gorgeous and my wish list was too long, so about a week before I had our son, we had a Social (me, on my couch with my computer, one hand in the potato chip bag, one hand taking occasional bites of ice cream). I kept in touch with the fabulous designer from the party, bought a few more pieces over the following months, and never really considered being a designer...

...until I did consider it. I started to think about what I loved about teaching, and it was helping people tell their stories. And that's what KEEP does - it helps people show off what they love - whether that's something incredibly meaningful, something fun, or something really pretty. KEEP could help me still tell stories while allowing me to be at home with our boy! So I took a GIANT leap of faith and decided to do it! 

A year ago today, I had NO idea what to expect. I was a giant ball of nerves as I started to prepare for my business venture. I was worried about so much - epic, giant failure being at the top of the list. But I knew that if it I was going down, I would go down fighting because I believe so strongly in KEEP's mission - to give women the chance to design their one-of-a-kind lives through flexible entrepreneurship. Whether it failed or it flew, I would make the most of this business. 

And business... it soared! My friends and family were incredibly supportive (and integral!) in helping me to get my business off the ground! And through them, I've met the most amazing customers, many of whom I now call friends. Yep, that's right - running a business has brought me some AMAZING friendships. 

So here's the short list of what I've learned in my first year of doing Direct Sales. But truly, there's so, so much more. <3

1. Having the flexibility to work from home has changed my life. And I'm a better mom because of it. 
I'm not one to feed into the mommy wars of what's better for children. Whether you're a working mom, a stay-at-home-mom, or an in between mom, I firmly believe we're all doing the best we can. But I know that for me, being able to work from home has made me a better mom. I love being with my son. But I also really love working. And so having the chance to do both has made me more patient, more conscious of how I spend my time, and more invigorated with my life. And in turn, all of those things are passed on to my son. I'm truly living my best life because of this opportunity. And that makes me incredibly grateful. 

2. Direct Sales aren't bad. They're kind of awesome. 
There's been some negative press and posts lately about people who do Direct Sales. People think DS consultants are pushy. Or don't care about them. Or only want to sell a product. Or only want to talk about their products. That couldn't be further from the truth. While there are probably some bad apples of consultants out there, you'll find that in any field. The Direct Sales people I know are inspired. They love their products. They love what their products can do. And they want to share that others! And I kind of love it. Whether you're ever a customer of mine or not, I still love you... which leads me to my next point. 

3. Not everyone will love what you sell, and that's okay. 
Do I think KEEP rocks? Umm, yes. Do I think there's a piece out there that I can design to make every single person happy? Umm, yes. Does that mean every person is going to be as jazzed about these products as I am? Umm, no. And that's okay. I fully accept that some people don't like my product, just as I probably don't like things about their businesses. That's okay! It doesn't make me love someone less if they don't like what I sell. 

4. The relationships and friendships I've formed through this business sustain me in so many ways. 
I am so blessed to have built a team within KEEP, a team that inspires and motivates and encourages one another. I'm also so blessed to be on a larger team within KEEP - a community that supports, loves, and motivates one another. I've "met" amazing women through KEEP - and I say "met" because so many I've never even had the chance to meet face-to-face. But I've nurtured friendships and mentorships and met some of the most amazing soul sisters I've ever known. NONE of that would have happened without this company, and I pray that someday I get the chance to meet each and every one of these women so that I can give them real, in-person hugs! 

5. The pieces I design make me cry... in the very best way. 
It has been a privilege, and I mean that, to work on pieces with my customers. Whether they're wanting to represent being a sister, friend, daughter, mother, believer of God, yogi, or something else entirely, it's a joy to work with people to design things they love or things that mean something to them. 

There are so many stories that come to mind this year - a mom who fought infertility for years and finally had a rainbow baby to represent. Another mom who at 24 weeks pregnant, suffered from brain trauma, fell into a coma, delivered her son, and had to work her way back to doing, well, everything, again (mom is totally fine, and that sweet baby boy is NINE now!)! But the story that touches my heart the most is one I want to share with you. 

A former coworker of mine retired and moved to Florida, but she and I have remained in touch on Facebook. Tragically, her son was murdered in a robbery gone tragically wrong in Portland. Their family suffered an incredible loss, so when she reached out to me about a Keeper, I wanted to make sure we made the perfect one for her. The saying adopted by her son and his friends was Hug Life. All of her son's friends got tattoos, but mom wasn't quite ready for one yet, so instead, we put together a gorgeous Keeper that she can wear daily to keep her youngest son close at hand. 

That's why I love this "job." This is what makes me excited about what's to come in the future of this business. It's not just that I get to work from home. It's not just that I get flexible working hours. It's not just that I get a paycheck for doing this (and sometimes, I really can't believe I get paid to do it!). It's not even the amazing trips, incentives, or people. 

It's that there are so many stories to be told, and I get to help tell them. And I can only imagine what stories are to come in the future. Cheers to year one, cheers to all of you who helped make it such an incredible year, and a bigger cheers to all the years left to come with KEEP Collective!


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