I have a confession to make: I had no clue what I was doing when I started this business. Really, I had grown up around my own family’s business and accrued my own professional experience (years spent in nonprofit arts administration can make you a jack-of-all-trades!), but the day to day investment of running a business? No clue.
I left my former career burnt-out and depressed, and with a focus on my own healing I turned to things that brought me peace: slowing down, making things by hand, incorporating mindfulness and magic into my day-to-day life. When the opportunity arose to monetize one of my hobbies, I thought, “Why not? I can do this until something else comes along.” I had no idea then that I would want to keep doing this, that I would grow to love the process of soapmaking and sharing my work with a community of truly magical people.
Even in the best of times, it is easy to get caught up in the process and to lose sight of the purpose— and it’s pretty clear that these have not been the best of times. Half of my time running this business has been during a global pandemic, something I certainly never anticipated. So much of the past two years has been about survival, and I am indeed incredibly privileged and deeply grateful to be safe and well-resourced. And perhaps it stems from this privilege, or maybe it is a natural human urge to desire more than basic survival (some evidence for the latter is that we’ve made art for millennia), but I do want more from my work and life than just surviving, I want to thrive. And so with the start of a new year, I sat down to get some clarity on my vision for HWB.
I began with my annual written SWOT of the prior year. For those unfamiliar, a SWOT analysis is a personal assessment of the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats facing a business or endeavor. I really appreciate a radically honest assesment, as it will only help the project, but I also like to mix in some magic and mindfulness with a SWOT-inspired tarot spread! Journaling on what arises can be a very illuminating experience, and offers a lovely opportunity for mindfulness in my work.
- Strengths (internal)
- Weaknesses (internal)
- Opportunities (external)
- Threats (external)
Following my reading, I wanted to exlore my goals a bit more. I have a slightly skeptical approach to a lot of pop psychology and self-help techniques that overlook systemic problems (you can’t address social inequalities or mental health crises with that “good vibes only” BS), but I do appreciate a good “vision board.” I’ve always loved the aesthetic of collage (I even did my undergrad thesis on gender ideology and the work of Hannah Höch’s photomontages!), and it’s an easy way to gain clarity on what inspires you and/or what you hope to achieve. My first vision board for HWB was made in the beginning of 2018, and both my external and inner worlds have changed so much since then, it seemed time for an update!
I began with journaling about the overall experience I hoped to achieve with this business, and then picked out a few key words and themes that stood out to me from what I had written: financial growth and sustainability (it is a business, after all!); curiosity and creativity; mindfulness, magic, and our relationship to the earth; and a commitment to social justice. Next, I collected lots and lots of clippings from magazines, etc., being as open and broad as possible in saving anything that resonated with me— this provided me with plenty of choices, and revealed a couple themes I hadn’t considered when journaling! For example, my personal interests in folklore and art history have really interwoven themselves into my work, and the aesthetics of the business have developed over time. When I felt I had enough images to represent overall themes, specific goals, etc., I assembled them all on an old poster board with some mod podge. (Fun fact: the first HWB vision board was made on a pro-choice sign I’d made for a rally, and this one was from a BLM march— it’s important to me that social justice is the foundation of my work!)
I’m not going to say that a vision board is enough to get you through the legitimate struggles of being a small business owner, and there are many people more qualified to speak on those topics, but I found this whole process to be extremely helpful! Honestly, even committing the amount of time to not just my yearly SWOT, but considering my desires and making a collage was so grounding and clarifying—and every solopreneur out there knows that time is indeed a precious luxury. 😉
Did you enjoy this post? Read more in my Biz Witch 101 series on my experiences as a solopreneur.
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