The Autumn Lane Story: Part 1

We work with a variety of people here at Autumn Lane – people across the country, people across the world!  They’re business owners, creatives, & bloggers — lawyers, food critics, jewelry makers, photographers, real estate agents, candle & soap makers, and entrepreneurs of all types.  Over the many miles & types of businesses we work with, the people behind the businesses and blogs share a few things in common: passion, the drive to succeed, and they’re quite protective of what they’ve started.  We understand that here, because we’re protective of our business, too.

Autumn Lane Paperie founders, Beck & Jeff.

Oh, look! There we are. This is one of my favorite pictures of us!  I thought it might be nice for you to get to know *us* while we’re telling you a pretty raw, honest story about how this business was born.

 

“And, so begins Autumn Lane Paperie… A baby business, started on what many would consider to be high hopes and a whim, and an insane amount of determination, and a huge will to make it succeed. I had NO other choice but to make it be that way.”

In the beginning …

Autumn Lane started not too many years ago (August 2014), and it was very close to a last ditch effort on my part.  In fact, it was so “last ditch” that I had an application filled out for the Starbucks down the road and ready to send in.  I’d considered many other opportunities in addition to this, applied a few places (government & contracting positions) but none panned out.  I looked into other local and remote opportunities that were available to me, and despite my education level, security clearance level, or qualifications, none really went anywhere.  In fact, I had zero call-backs for any professional-level jobs despite my standing with my previous employer.

Jeff was running his own landscaping company (and was also keen to learn of the opportunities to get back into government work) – while the landscaping (or “gardening” as they call it in SoCal) business was decent, it was expensive to run & keep up, and he was a one-man show out there making enough to pay the bills but not quite enough to hire someone.

I’ll do it!

Rather than have him take on more clients, I felt like I needed to find a part-time job to help out financially while I was going to school.  I’d dabbled in a few other things that didn’t quite pan out like I’d hoped after our move cross-country. I was a little hesitant to start something new given my less than stellar attempts before, but something about it just told me it was different.  I was also a full-time student in graduate level courses, so it took up quite a bit of my time during the day.

Working from home seemed like the most feasible “solution” to our situation, but it was pretty tense for a while. I was determined to find something that worked for us that met my “requirements.”  I say “requirements” but it was really more of a wishlist.  Ultimately, I wanted something that would pay enough to help with our bills, and allow me the opportunity to be available when our kids needed something. Whether it was school, summertime, or just having a parent around, I wanted to be there.

When it just doesn’t seem to be working.

There was a particular conversation that was had when we were pretty close to rock-bottom following our summer where I stayed at home with the kids all day, every day.  Jeff was working sometimes 6 days a week just to ensure that the needs of all customers were met.  Yet, the number of customers he had still wasn’t enough to pay our bills, pay the business bills, AND hire someone.  It was clear that we needed to change something about what we were doing.  The business that I moved from Georgia to California wasn’t seeing any interest or growth.  I assumed it was because I was viewed as a newcomer in a saturated market. The concept I’d developed for photographers just wasn’t headed in a positive direction, and I couldn’t put more time, money, resources into it.  We had ideas, too! They were great ideas (which we still haven’t pursued and are protecting) but they all required…you guessed it…capital!  (And, time.  A HUGE amount of time.)

Really? That happened?

Anyway, a conversation was had.  I don’t remember the conversation, because I think a part of me blocked it out.  It was a really rough time for our family, and for our marriage, to feel like we were financially about to be broken.  I felt broken, too, because I was trying so hard to make things work.  I was trying to manage family, school, and business…and the business side was just… *sad trombone*  That’s the best way to describe it.  The talent was there, but the interest in Southern California, not so much.

I keep getting off track!  The Conversation: The way Jeff tells it, he was standing on the stairs of our house, and he told me that maybe it was time for me to throw in the towel.  He said I should just abandon the idea that I could work from home.  I should give up on making my own hours while going to school and being there for the family.  He says he told me—not in these same words—that I needed to come to terms with the fact that what I was doing wasn’t working.

I apparently told him that I had no choice but to make it work, and that it was going to work.  I would make it work.

All aboard!

He left it at that, and didn’t touch it again.  He told me recently (as we were discussing telling our story) that it wasn’t about what someone was offering, the products or services they had, or the way they were running their business.  It was about determination and the drive to do it, and that my assertion that I would make it work, and had no other choice but to make it work was enough for him to leave it alone.

And, so begins Autumn Lane Paperie. A baby business, started on what many would consider to be high hopes and a whim, and an insane amount of determination and a huge will to make it succeed because I had NO other choice but to make it be that way.

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1 Comment

  • Jeff says:

    This was a really tough time for all of us & I’d like to add a couple things to Beck’s post. One is this – if you’re committed, actually committed, to what you’re doing & there’s a market for it, you can certainly make it work. It most likely won’t happen easily & sometimes even the experts need to know when to throw in the towel but for the most part, you can make what you’re doing work.

    The conversation that Beck blocked out was an especially traumatic one for both of us because I’ve always been the one to tell her that she can do it because she’s a feisty Irish girl & is one of the smartest people I’ve ever met – smarter than me, for sure. The reason it was traumatic for me is because I’ve always been incredibly optimistic about our odds but after just getting beaten down for so long, I felt like I had to admit defeat & throw in the towel – just join the rat race & punch a clock. Beck’s reply that she would make it work is something that I will never forget because I completely identified with her state of mind as she said it – she’d hit rock bottom & had her back against the wall but in true Wolverine style (I am the geek, after all), she squared up, ready to take down the situation.

    A couple of things that she didn’t mention – getting old happens to everyone & I’m no exception. Gardening in Orange County, CA is a young man’s job & I was in incredible pain every night. I was also an absolute joy to be around because of that. As a one man band, spending over $300 per week just for fuel, it was tough to stay profitable & still have enough energy to smile at people – I knew that I wouldn’t be able to maintain that pace for long, especially with the kids’ needs.

    There’s more to come & I won’t spoil it for her but I just want to go on record that I’m proud of Beck in every way imaginable.

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