Back in 2009, Art by Ellie & Sugar Bee Sweets were freelance projects on the side of our full-time day-jobs. Now today marks a huge entrepreneurship milestone for our businesses — five years since Heidi (of Sugar Bee Sweets) and Laura (of Art by Ellie) quit our day-jobs, walking away from the guarantees of salary, benefits, stability, and generally knowing, within reason, that we even had a job. In these past five years, we've added to our families, added to our businesses with employees and storefronts, created (and revised) policies and procedures, flourished with growth, weathered tough times, celebrated immense victories, pushed through our own limits, and learned SO much.
The quick back-story
I (Laura) have known Heidi since high school. We weren't super close, but we were friendly, and to this day we share many mutual friends from our teen years. We reconnected at a friend's baby shower back in 2006 and saw each other mostly at social functions over the next few years. We both worked in the creative field, and as it turned out, we had a lot in common.
By 2008 or 2009, Heidi was baking & decorating cakes fairly regularly on weekends, and said she had dreams of opening a bakery someday. I was designing invitations and announcements for friends in my spare time, bored with column after column of newspaper and magazine layout, not to mention the management duties of my day-job as an art director and wished I could design "pretty" things all the time. And when Heidi was getting married in 2009, guess who happily designed her wedding invitations? Yup!
We began teaming up for a lot of projects since nearly everyone who needed invitations also needed cake for their event, and things sort of snowballed from there. Our joys and our struggles often seemed to parallel (and they still do).
By summer of 2010, we were both exhausted from commuting to Dallas, working all day, then answering emails and working all night/all weekend on our passion projects. We took the leap just days apart from each other (pure happenstance), and left the comfort of our office jobs for good (and for that first year, at least once a month I was sure everything was going to fall apart and I'd have to go beg for my job back). But the longer I spent on my own, the more I dreaded ever having to sit in the car for up to 2 hours a day again, or putting on slacks and boring dress shoes, or staying up until 12, 1, 2 a.m. on press days (seriously). Happily, no begging (or commuting) has since occurred.
After knocking on a lot of wood, making many hard decisions, holding countless "strategy session" planning meetings in Heidi's kitchen as she rolled cake balls, and choosing color swatches on her living room floor for our first styled shoot, I think we generally have a good handle on what we're doing now. ;)
Two things I know for sure
1. After taking the leap of quitting my day-job, somewhere along the way, I learned that I don't always know where my next paycheck is coming from. But I know that if I keep getting up every day and coming into the office every morning — if I show up every day without fail and people know they can rely on me — I know the work will come.
2. I know we couldn't have done this without you. Our friends, families, followers: You have been champions of our work. You have allowed us to do what we love to do every day. You have allowed us the space and the opportunity to grow our families (with babies and the magic of adoption), to own our own homes, to grieve losses of loved ones, to support wonderful charities, to represent our community, to weather health scares, to further our education, to support our spouses in their career changes and education, to create jobs, to mentor young people, and to be the decision makers for our own lives. For this, we are forever grateful, and we will keep getting up every morning and coming into the office (or bakery) so we're here when you need us.