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TEACH GIRLS BRAVERY, NOT PERFECTION: why I share my "setbacks" with my daughter

 

Reshma Saujani’s TED talk is one of my favorites.  Listen during a commute or while straightening up the house – I promise it’s a good investment of 13 minutes. 

My 5 year old daughter has been by my side throughout most of my kitchen R&D.  She can measure oils using our medicine droppers down to the 0.01 g, then tares (resets) the scale before moving on with a new dropper in a new oil.  She has her own favorite blends – they’re all very coconut oil heavy.  We devoured a Tinker Bell chapter book series last summer, and she interrupted our reading one day to tell me that she’s an “oil talent fairy.” 

Since my little business partner is so interested and involved, I’ve decided to be very open with her about the ups and downs of starting this business.  When my usual yoga/lounge wear is shelved for something a bit more professional, she notices and I tell her who I’m meeting with and why….Then if/when bad news comes, I tell her about that too. 

Many of my early declines were from contract manufacturers.  While I developed my favorite blends and infusions in my home kitchen, I lacked confidence in my ability to scale up.  Plus, I wanted everything made using USDA certified organic standards, and I didn’t (yet) have a clue what that entailed. 

I knew finding the right partner would take some time, but I mistakenly thought that would mostly be on my terms.  I would meet with a contract manufacturer and say, “I’d like to do so and so differently.”  They’d be supportive in the meeting, then a week later call back and say, “This is why that box exists, so get back in it.” Then they’d write me off, and I’d move on to another and say, “I know I can’t do so and so, because of that awful box, but can I do this and that?”  Again, they’d be supportive in the meeting, and I’d be convinced I found my match!  Then, a week later, they’d call back and say, “This is why you can’t do this and that.  Now, stop wasting our time, and get back in the damn box.” And then they’d write me off.   And so I’d move on to another, and another….

I’ve been declined because I don’t want to use preservatives, and that means a limited product line.  I’ve been declined because I want my products to be safe for use during pregnancy and breastfeeding, and people fear lawsuits.  I’ve been declined because many manufacturers have a 10k+ MOQ (minimum order quantity) per product and I don’t have that kind of start up capital.  The list goes on and on.  Each decline hurt.  This is a passion play for me, and one where I know I’m newbie.  Each time I thought, “Why did I think I could pull this off?”

Sharing these setbacks with my daughter, though, helped me see them through a more productive lens.  When we’re talking about the declines, I’ll get out her book on Marie Curie and we’ll re-read her quote: “I was taught that the way of progress was neither swift nor easy.”  Or, we’ll pull out her Rosie Revere the Engineer book and re-read the quote: "Your brilliant first flop was a raging success!  Come on, let’s get busy and on to the next! ...The only true failure can come if you quit.” 

I remember Reshma’s TED Talk.  Then, we blast, “Try everything” from Zootopia, or “Get back up again” from Trolls, we move on to our next blend…

 

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