Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Ladies Who Launch: The First Incubator Meeting

Yes. I’ve known that I’m wearing the ruby red slippers, but I’m still on the yellow brick road meeting the Scarecrow and the Lion asking tons of questions about how to get to where I want to be. In fact, I just met the Lion last week (this sounds sort of odd) when I was realizing that I wasn’t doomed with katie james just because I couldn’t face the business plan. That Lion’s voice came into my head like “Bring ‘em on! I’ll fight ‘cha!” Except that I wasn’t going to back down at the site of a mouse, like the Cowardly Lion would have at that moment of declaring those fighting words. Nope. I think I’ve entered the Emerald City.

Last night was my first Ladies Who Launch Incubator meeting. For those of you who don't know what Ladies Who Launch is, it's that link on the right side of this blog that warns if you want to get seriously motivated, you will go to their website and sign up for their weekly newsletter to get little blasts of inspiration from a woman's story on how she started her home based baby t-shirt company that exploded into the real deal, for example. They started this thing called Incubators that is positioned as a course for women who know they want to launch something, or move on with something, or even find a husband, and are on the launching pad but don't know where to go or how to do it.

So you know I signed up for it. My jewelry pouches had unexpectedly sold out at a little show a friend had in Cleveland, and I took the money, which I could have put into production for more pouches, and invested it in myself in this course. Whew! You better believe I wanted this Incubator thing to work out.

You are what you wear, so I made sure to kick start my motivation by wearing my trusty faux alligator pumps again (shh...they're Aerosoles!) and my other flouncy, wrinkly skirt from Surrealist that is just perfect for dancing in a Moroccan styled apartment, or for going to Incubator meetings. I was an hour early after getting my times wrong, so luckily I remembered about a fellow Mista who lived in the neighborhood and was luckily available to meet for a quick beer at an Irish pub. I'm not normally such a lush at all! But instead of having a regular day at work, I'd had a very crappy, very frustrated day with event planning details going on, and there was no sign of it letting up until probably November, when the event (hopefully) takes place.

I had no idea what to expect. I was hoping for help to brand katie james, launch it off the ground, maybe open a boutique to be the 'day job,' and grow FashionMista, but I didn't know how they were going to help me do that. To be honest, I was afraid I'd be in a room with frustrated women who hated their jobs. Far from it!! The twelve women I was with had serious dreams and goals. We sat in a circle. The first step was to put our "projects" aka the reason we'd come to the Incubator, into the center of the circle. We went around the room, and the magic actually started happening.

One girl started out as a school teacher b/c she didn't think she had any other options, branched out a bit, realized she wanted to be a publicist, moved to NYC with no job or apartment, got both in a week, gained job experience, had a Jerry McGuire Moment about the importance of relationships, and left her agency - with their clients! She's got her business going, but is in the Incubator, I think, to step back, take a breath, and see what she's got to make sure she continues to kick ass. We had two administrative assistants, one of which discovered she had quite a talent for calligraphy (you should have seen her registration form). She hand writes wedding invitations and wants to figure out how to expand her business to leave her job. The other administrative assistant loves helping people, but might crack if she toasts another english muffin in an office, so she wants to figure out how to turn her liking to help people into a personal or life assistant business for people. Oh, and she needs to find a husband, which is why she's in New York from Charlotte, but sees that there are no men (or no normal ones for a Charlotte girl) and so wants to establish this business back in NC. We might see about finding her a husband. Another woman (gosh, this paragraph is getting awfully long) runs one of the most prominent celebrity gift bag companies (for the Oscars, music awards, etc.) and realizes that that era is dead now that the IRS insisted on taxing celebrities on contents of gift bags, so she's transformed her business into an online shop where she sells the contents and buys ads in People Magazine to showcase designers in the gift bags.

After everyone divulged, the next step was getting "launchwork" to complete by next class. There are four classes, or meetings. This first assignment is to give feedback to each woman about her project. Which is really fun because everyone likes to think grand thoughts for other people. And then, as an added bonus, at the end of the day, you have 12 wonderful puffs of air guiding you to accomplishing the project you came in to accomplish. I'm super excited for all of it. There were many ways to connect people with each other and new ideas to help move along their businesses, so I'm excited to do this exercise. On the way home, I was already talking to two women in the apparel industry - one who used to design for Limited and wanted to make a name for herself without analyzing herself into paralysis, and another who wants to make organic clothing using a farm out of Egypt that she discovered while working/sourcing for Aveda.

We also have to do one nice thing for ourselves a day. The first nice thing I've done for myself is to wake up at 6:30am, actually get out of bed this time (poor David, I set the alarm at 6 or 6:30am every morning with the intent of getting out, but it doesn't happen until several snoozes later at 7am on a good day, and 7:20am on an normal day), put on my sweatpants, plug into Nancy Griffith's Other Voices Other Rooms, and write this post. It's all coming back to me now, why I loved what I was doing when I started designing clothes and attending FIT! I loved working in the morning, with the orange sun coming up, peeking through different cracks of my windows while Gerdy waits for me to be done and Dinah jumps around on the couch.

To be honest, I've been feeling so far away from that person, that the thought of scetching or clipping magazines in the morning actually made me sad, b/c I know I'd have to go to work shortly after. But no longer. I'm shedding the complacency and taking back my goals.

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3 comments:

stephanie said...

there is an awesome book called "the artist's way" by julia cameron that is a lot like the incubator. you do one chapter a week for ten or twelve weeks. you have goals for each week and must do an "artist's date" with yourself once per week. really good for getting you into the artistic mode. i should pick it up again- i think i got to week six and crapped out.

Mista said...

thanks for the tip! it's good to be accountable to other people, and even books. I was in the beginning, and then got I think sidetracked with other distractions. I still set myself up to have to deliver something, but having a book like that would be nice. Especially for artists to force yourself to just visually float around in your brain - a a sheduled time.

Danielle | Collective Elements said...

I'm glad you enjoyed the incubator. I just couldn't afford to do it right now (time & money) but I hope to join the next one. Hope it continues to motivate you. I may have to look for that book too.