BlissBranch is Back! -- My Thoughts on Relaunching my Small Business
Today is so exciting for me — I think that’s a good place to start. This post is going to be long, and I’m going to talk about….money. And business.
I know that a lot of my new friends and followers these days have found me through various mama-centered accounts, but I did have a life before my son. Honestly, it feels as though I’ve had several lives and paths but something deep down kept pulling me back to my first business, BlissBranch.
In September, I did a series called Thoughtful Thursdays here on the blog wherein I began by reintroducing myself and mentioning where the blog was currently at. Not long after that, I began seriously playing around with the concept of starting up my business again.
What was this business? Well, it’s hard to give it just one identity, and as you read on or explore the BlissBranch archives, you’ll probably learn why.
BlissBranch was the name of my blog when it first began in 2012. The first place I spoke publicly about my struggles with disordered eating and body dysmorphia. I didn’t have a social media following at the time and I wrote purely as a way to share my story and hopefully help someone somewhere on the internet. Close family and friends all knew about my experience seeking treatment, but I also wanted to make it known to my FB acquaintances from school and the like. So, I wrote a few posts, shared them to my wall, and that was the start of my blogging.
When I met my husband Collin in 2013, his family began tagging and sharing my posts, gaining me a few thousand followers and readers who I really connected with. I’m talking emails, messages, comments back and forth encouraging one another in a beautiful and meaningful way.
After we got married, we were both working full-time jobs: me as a barista and him as an electrician-helper. One day some of my sisters-in-law were chatting about how I should do an Instagram closet sale to make a little extra money off my clothes (I was taking them to Plato’s Closet at the time), and so I obliged.
The sale went really well and we both loved the process of styling, shooting, and listing the clothes. There was a lot of positive feedback and encouragement for me to pursue some type of semi-permanent styling service or online shop. We had money saved up from years of me working, so we quit our jobs and decided to pursue this shop. The shop was born the week of the closet sale.
As insane as that sounds, it really worked for us. We were in a small town and rent for our 700 sq ft apartment was $500, so we definitely could swing it for a while.
Looking back, obviously I’m so grateful we were able to do such a bold and ambitious thing. I definitely see how privileged we were then (still now), and I know we probably could have given back to the community more or kept working and saving for the future. Buuuuuut, we were 19 and 20. We had a lot of learning still ahead of us.
Since I was fourteen, I’ve been fascinated and inspired by vintage clothing. I was always a size 20/22 and had a hard time finding modern clothing that fit my body and was actually cool. My mom used to take my friends and I across town (before I could drive) and drop us off at Goodwill for an hour or so with $20 to go find our coveted floral skirts and cable-knit sweaters. I was even teased and given the name “Granny Karsyn” by the local boys in school. Wearing vintage was a way for me to be me and express myself at a young age. Honestly, looking back now, hunting and styling vintage pieces that actually fit my body made me feel cool and gave me confidence despite always being picked apart for being curvy.
A lot of the clothing in my original closet sale was vintage and those were the pieces that had the most comments and feedback. The day the shop began, we took to all the local thrift shops and began stocking up on pieces to style and shoot. One of the things that I aimed for when listing items was selling things as outfits, with more than one item in a single sale. If it was a dress, it was sold with a bag. If it was a skirt, it was sold with a vintage tee.
The idea of selling more than one thing as a single order was where we thrived. We soon developed the BlissBox which was a box with a hand-picked piece of vintage and 3-4 additional items. It varied month to month, but we loved including local artisan coffee, natural beauty products from our friends’ company, and a limited edition art print.
This was 2014, so just as beauty boxes and subscription boxes were really emerging. I didn’t have the software or the business (or accounting) smarts to keep up with these items, even though they were the best-selling ones!
It was difficult keeping every customer happy, as I’m sure you can understand if you have your own small business. With Blissboxes, we would take a size and style survey where we would collect all the info we needed to select a garment for the individual. This could be considered a risky thing for a shopper who considers themselves picky, etc. A lot of times, people would buy the box as a way to get one of the smaller other items, or maybe buying the box as a gift for someone else. Regardless of the scenario, sometimes people would be disappointed and reach out regarding our final sale policy.
It became hard to separate what was genuine constructive feedback and what was people on the internet tearing apart our business. It was hard not to take things personally when they became personal and began calling my character into question.
I was sensitive. I am sensitive. I tend to let one rotten comment spoil a whole bunch of beautiful, encouraging ones. It’s something I’ve always worked on, but with my business it’s something I’ve decided to really focus on.
Anyway. After I had some negative run-ins with unhappy shoppers, I began to retreat. We had planned our move to Nashville by this point, and I we had poured every penny we could into BlissBranch and now this move across country. I secured a part-time job at a Nashville coffee shop, and Collin was looking for work in the music industry. We were intimidated to say the least.
We announced our move to Nashville, and had no choice but to put the shop on hold until we had everything set at our new place. By November 2015, we were back up and running but could only commit 20% of our time to the business as we were both working full-time jobs a this point. We both began to get discouraged, and with our money poured into the move, we couldn’t stop working our jobs to pick up the shop full-time again.
I should add that we were also in a new city and new opportunities were arising! Collin was hired on at A Beautiful Mess to help with projects and I had just received my Integrative Health Coach certification and began making friends with local businesses. The vintage shop was seemed to be telling us to walk away, and in Spring of 2016, we did.
We chose to pursue music at this point more seriously, in addition to me dipping my toes in teaching yoga and providing health coaching online. Spoiler alert: none of these endeavors were as fiscally or emotionally fruitful as we foresaw. If things couldn’t get any more confusing — I got pregnant.
I’ve talked about my first pregnancy so many times on the blog in the past but yeah. I was pregnant, and then I wasn’t. The miscarriage rocked me and that time of my life is nothing more than a blur. I honestly can’t pinpoint where it landed on our entrepreneurial timeline, but it wasn’t a good time.
Shortly after the miscarriage, I got pregnant with Phoenix and held down a pretty steady job working 30ish hours a week while Collin worked two jobs to make that extra baby money. The pregnancy was a time where 100% of my daydreaming and planning capacity was overwhelmed by thoughts and plans for the baby. For once in my life, I wasn’t focusing on a business or career path.
The postpartum period shouldn’t really be news to y’all, as you’ve totally been here this whole time and I’ve definitely shared so much about that! Essentially, being a mom has inspired me in so many ways. One of the most important things I’ve learned is that I need to remain myself. I need to embrace the new part of my life that is motherhood but I still need to cling to what makes me me.
I can be both. I have to be both. If I want to show up as the incredible mother Phoenix needs or the devoted partner Collin needs, or the loving friend or whatever, I need to be me. I need to do something (or multiple things) I love every single day. Things that don’t have anything to do with my boys! Both Collin and Phoenix fill me with so much love and light and make me feel like my existence is purposeful, but its very easy for me personally to become detached to my own hopes and dreams for myself.
I don’t think this thinking is selfish, I think it’s crucial. I also think it’s difficult to put into words because obviously anything that I want to accomplish or work towards in the future will no doubt benefit my family in some way, so yes. I’m thinking of them in that sense. BUT, the act of doing it. The motivation. The vision. The love. That’s all me. And that, that right there, is what drew me back to BlissBranch.
I’ve been guilty of sitting around and waiting for Collin to magically become a famous artist or one day maybe make plenty of money so that we can buy a home or whatever. I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m just not into sitting around and waiting for anything, especially when I believe something so much.
With all of this, BlissBranch has been reborn. She’s been reborn with room to grow and flourish and learn and perform and do all of the things. Do them all right this time!
I’ve worked really hard at keeping my packaging materials plastic-free, all recyclable, and all recycled when available. I stand by my message that we do not need more stuff. We don’t! Does that intimidate me in starting a business technically selling stuff? No.
That’s because the message behind BlissBranch is to give new life to pieces already sitting on this planet. Pieces that were not made to be disposable. Pieces that will not be disposed of, but given a second chance. Always shopping for new new new means that resources are constantly being poured into products: think creating, shipping, labor, etc.
With our shop, there will no doubt be shipping, so there is that factor to consider, but I’ve worked very hard and will continue to show up for you with an alternative to buying new and/or fast fashion. I am also committed to providing quality vintage items at an affordable price point, with always free shipping. Things that make me smile and encourage me as a customer.
Eventually, I’d like to include natural beauty and wellness brands into this shop. I’d love to stock my favorite things and have them for you in one spot. But my number one goal this time around is to encourage and support you in your own personal journey to reduce your impact on this Earth and still feel like you.
Anyway. Love y’all. Thank you so much for supporting this endeavor and please let me know any feedback or ideas for the shop. I'm always open.