We cannot believe it’s been two years. We know it doesn’t seem all that long, but every time we hit a milestone in our business — whether it be an anniversary or our biggest contract to date — we look back at how far we come and it’s an amazing feeling. Truth be told, this is our favorite anniversary yet. Read on to see what our favorite memories have been, our biggest lessons learned and what has surprised the most or what we’re looking forward to the most!
Kelli: My favorite memory was moving into our new space at The Shirt Factory. We were all running on empty and were acting like crazy people because we had a million things we were trying to balance that week, both personally and to keep up with our work load, but it was so much fun to create our new space—our first true design studio.
Will: For me, the best Sidekick moment in the past year was not really a moment, per se, but more a feeling. I remember a distinct, “we made it!” emotion taking hold at some point. Or maybe it sunk in over the course of our second year. After meeting and speaking with more and more business owners, it seems that the first year (or years) are often the hardest. So we definitely felt a sense of relief and a big, collective exhale after getting through our first year. We obviously have a lot more that we want to achieve and big goals in our future, but making it through the first year felt like a win, and I’ll take it!
Cara: I’m going to choose a favorite day rather than a favorite memory since I can’t nail it down to just one. April 1st. And it really wasn’t just that day—it was that whole week. April 1st was our first employee’s (Grace) official start date and the date that our lease started in The Shirt Factory. It could have been super stressful (and not going to lie—it was) to have our two biggest business decisions start on the same day, but more than anything it was thrilling and exciting. The entire week we got to the office early, got our work done and headed to the office to clean, paint, paint some more, and then paint some more. On Friday we moved all of our stuff into our new studio and even though we had no furniture, just a bunch of boxes in the middle of the floor, it was such a good feeling. I know I’ll be remembering this week for years to come—not just because it was a symbol of our growth, but it was just another reminder why teamwork, and good friends/coworkers can make all the difference—especially when you’re on day 4 of painting and need a good laugh.
Biggest Lesson Learned
Kelli: Keep doing good work that you enjoy, do it well, and good clients will follow. Just by us continually doing what we enjoy (and a lot of hard work!) we’ve ended up earning a reputation for the type of work we’re good at, and have been involved in projects that we’re truly pumped about.
Will: I had to learn the hard way that maintaining a work/life balance is something to take seriously. When we started our business, I assumed I would simply have to pull all-nighters, sacrifice my personal life and overwork every single project. What I learned (the hard way) is that sticking to a consistent schedule and working within set parameters will actually improve your work and workflow. It’s easy to over-do every project, with the excuse that more is more and the intention of impressing the client. But presenting too many solutions ends up putting quantity over quality and ultimately overwhelming the client (in a bad way). By reigning in project parameters and adhering to strict office hours, you end up working with more focus, more efficiency and more strategy. I’d be lying if I said I don’t work late nights or on weekends anymore, but making sure it’s not a regular occurrence makes all the difference.
Cara: Listen. We encounter some pretty tough business decisions on a day-to-day basis. I tend to jump to conclusions and will fight hard for my opinion (stubborn). Thank goodness there are three of us so that we always have a tiebreaker because there have been so many decisions that haven’t gone my way in the past, and looking back I’m so glad they haven’t—we might not still be in business today if they had! It has made me realize to really listen to my partners, take the time to think it over, ask questions, and approach the problem from different angles. And when all else fails, use the 1-10 scale about how many f*cks I really give about this particular decision.
What Has Surprised us the Most OR What We're Looking Forward to the Most
Kelli: I’m excited to see where we are a year from now. After just two years in business, we are already in a much different place than I could have anticipated, and every day I am doing work that excites me. I think I’m most surprised at our growth and how much has happened in two trips around the sun. Between two moves, two interns, two pregnancies (with babies on the way in just a few weeks), a new employee, and countless new clients, it seems like the last two years have been a whirlwind. I’m so looking forward to how we continue to evolve as a company and as people.
Will: Simply put, just about everything has surprised me in our first two years. While we had a lot of experience in the design world, none of us have ever owned a business. So there was obviously a lot to learn. What I’m most looking forward to is coming into our own in the next 2-5 years. Now that we’ve gained some entrepreneurial experience, hired our first employee, and moved into our own space, I think we’ll naturally start thinking more about where we want to be in the long term. Can’t say I have the answer now, but I can’t wait to see how it turns out. Oh yea, also pretty excited about a couple babies on the way!
Cara: Hard work and good choices pay off. This really shouldn’t surprise me, but it does. I’ve always known this to be true, but it’s something that I’ve really noticed since being a business owner. When you’re an employee you can work your butt off on a project and do a great job. With that comes some pride and maybe if you’re lucky a little bonus or raise. When you’re a business owner and you put the work in and make good and smart choices (which are never easy to make!), you can immediately see the results and the positive impact on the business. It creates more direct opportunities to grow as an individual and as a business, which is such a great feeling. It makes me so excited for the future!