How I’m Building A Business For The Life I Want To Live

Five years ago, many people said I was crazy when I told them my plans. Crazy to start a business at the same time I decided to have children. Taking such a risk along with huge responsibility all at once seems ridiculous to most. But my response to them then is the same to anyone now. I never thought of it that way.

When I started J Shea, I took what I considered to be a very grounded, thorough and high-tech approach. Ready for it? Here it is: “If I fail, I won’t die.”

The Business Plan

I’m totally serious! (Well maybe not serious about the “intelligent-high-tech” part but you get what I mean.) The way I looked at it, I had a skill-set of designing events and styling women, wanted to own my business, and needed a way to leave a job that had me bored out of my mind. To me, the timing was perfect.

So I contracted my first small piece of business and went for it. I told myself (and my husband), that if I never got another contract after that, I WASN’T GOING TO DIE. I may have to avoid my excursions to T.J. Maxx, but to us it was worth that risk for a happier, more fulfilled lifestyle. And I’m happy to say that is precisely what I’ve achieved.

I never planned to build a million-dollar business with a huge team of people and an office on K Street in D.C. I wanted my business, but I also wanted babies! Even though I didn’t realize it at the time, deep-down I always had the intention of building my business for the life I wanted to live. One of financial stability, awesome flexibility, and most importantly, the ability to spend time with my kids, especially on the weekends. So while I love styling events, you won’t see me handling weddings. That fell off my list of services in year 2 after Davis was born. Weekends are for my family.

Looking To The Future

As I approach the five year anniversary of my business, I have only recently realized just how important the flexibility aspect was to my business plan and how crucial it is for anyone thinking about starting their own. Following your passion is so important. After all, what we do to support our family and lifestyle takes up the majority of our time every week, so we should enjoy it. But it’s just as important to make sure that passion fits with the other part of your life: your family, and the life you want with them.

I have visions of a team of five, with an office in a historic building in Old Town Alexandria. A vision where I’m doing everything on the creative side, and NOTHING administrative. But to get there, I know what I have to do and it involves more time away from my home. Like attending networking functions during the weeknights that have me missing dinner with my babes and struggling to wake up each morning to get my one year old her breakfast at 6:30 a.m. because I’m working 14 hour days.

It will happen, just not right now.  And that’s ok.  My business is what I want it to be, today, January 9, 2017, for me and for my family. And for now, that’s exactly where I want to be.



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