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New Year, New Self… New Business?

It’s typical for the New Year to prompt questions about whether or not you’re living your best life. For me, throughout this holiday time, I’ve been asking myself, how do I want to “take off” from work around the holidays while I’m starting up my business? How do I factor in self-care willingly when there’s always something I could be doing? How do I maintain my sense of self outside of my responsibility for my business? And, how’s everyone else managing?

About two years ago I helped a close friend start his business. It felt incredible to get insight into the flexibility and creativity it takes to start something. Business had never been on my radar. My experiences (affected by my gender) had always directed me to more soft skill oriented positions. I was held back in Algebra in high school, I went on to study Women’s and Gender Studies in college, and was attracted to work that connected people with food, nature, or art.

It wasn’t until helping my friend and his family start their food truck business that I realized that there is so much unpredictability in a start-up business; a great deal of it ends up being put together on the fly. Starting a food truck ends up being much more about your Do-It-Yourself skills than the spreadsheets you drew up 6 months before. Don’t get me wrong, those spreadsheets are devilishly important when it comes to making sure your idea can work, but when it comes down to the nitty gritty, small businesses are taking up arms in DIY ways through social media, community partnerships, and by recognizing the value of allowing the process to be transparent.

I recently-- momentarily-- lost my sense of self, separate from my sense of business. Out of habit before bed I scroll through my social media accounts, mostly Instagram, to see the day's happenings and photos. Recently, I’ve been just revisiting my business’ accounts, checking likes, peeking on stats, looking at photos of inspiring people and businesses around Baltimore. My pleasure and passions are so wrapped up in my business that it was hard for me to turn off my "work brain", even just for something as simple and regular as getting ready for bed. My racing brain, full of ideas, and inspiration, and worry, would race and race and race, after the normal restraints of business hours and leave me more anxious than passionate about how I was letting starting a business run my life. But it’s in my control, and I’m making up the rules, it’s DIY to the max, so can’t I make self care a major player in my business game?

I’ve been appreciating female entrepreneurs  that are emphasizing and highlighting the self-care element of business. Laura Miller, who is known for her vegan cookbooks, is open to and interested in divulging some of what goes on in her head by talking about intimate subjects like loneliness and failure. Her web series is called "Talking in Circles", and they’re short reminders that it’s important to take care of yourself on top of everything else you’re doing. A pulled quote from the failure episode:

“When I see someone fucking up it makes me like them more… It’s endearing in some sort of way, I think it’s because I know I could be that too… their more vulnerable and I feel more connected to them” -Novena on Talking in Circles

    Vulnerability is powerful and relatable. I think it’s become more and more important to expose the relatable person behind who’s running a business. I think people are interested in supporting the people that run a venture, beyond just the venture itself. The food movement can’t just be about the free-range chickens you’re eating; it’s gotta be about the free-range people that are dishing up those chickens. Some notable people in Baltimore that specifically highlight the importance of self-care is the team behind Dovecote Cafe. Here are some highlighted Instagram posts  that reflect their attitude about self-care:

It’s inspirational seeing people say what they need and making it work in a way that mutually benefits them and their community.

I also want to give a shout out to Krystal Mack, who’s working non-stop on the opening of Blk//Sugar, in R. House in Remington. She spoke some small words, that to me went a long way, at the first Startup Soirée event I attended. She shares about her experience in such a candid and authentic way. It often feels like she’s speaking my mind on some topics and the determination she shows in her journey keeps me believing that I can start something too. 

Business owners in Baltimore are doing more than managing, they’re giving their cheat sheet out on how to manage.

So how do I self-care separate from my business? I’m working on a bedtime routine, a lot less phone, a little bit of stretching, some tea, and some me time. I’ve tried setting up more obvious work hours in my hectic start, and while that doesn’t always work, I do know that every once in awhile I need to just switch off and laugh hard with friends, dance with strangers, and sit quietly in the YMCA sauna.

And the blurred lines are not so bad. Startup Soirée events, mixed with a pop-up workshop at Dovecote, or a lesson through Cube or School of Food are all things that get me so excited to be starting a business in Baltimore. So as I enter the New Year, with my replenished sense of self, and my starting business, I’ll continue to keep a pulse on the blurring lines between my Wilde self and my Wilde startup venture, Wilde Thyme.

- Kiah