Shatter the Illusions

Good morning! Happy Thursday. What y’all doin’ out there? Y’all good? Still living in those constant wtf moments like me everyday? Sweet!

The past few weeks have brought about tons of emails, texts, phone calls, messages to myself and the team with well wishes about the new building. We hear a lot of these variations - “you’re so successful” and “you must be rich” and “that’s amazing” and even a “congrats on your little hobby”. Most all of them are very positive and a couple have been condescending and snarky. That’s okay too because I know where those come from and I’ve been there. Keep reading.

There are three groups of people reading this that I’m about to get very transparent with, like crystal clear. Some of it my own team may not even know. I’m always transparent with them but we don’t often sit down to have conversations about the below.

1. Customers and Supporters - we told y’all we’d bring y’all along for the ride and here we are.
2. People watching and thinking they want to be Small Business Owners, that think they “can” or “can’t” do it. They dream about it. Is the timing right? What do I do about “x” thing standing in my way?
3. The Comparison Crowd - I don’t know a nicer name for this group. It’s some version of those that think I’m rich, that think something was handed to us, that compares themselves and their business to us and gets resentful and spiteful. Most of this is not even intentional, it just is human nature.

You know how I know about Groups 2 and 3? Cause I’ve been there. I’ve been there watching other businesses and fallen in those two groups more times than I care to admit. So, here’s the scoop.

Dixie Grace has doubled in size consistently year over year since 2018. That has all been self funded on personal savings and credit cards. If you’re in business then you know fast growth is just as scary as no growth, especially at those rates. Not only do you have to fund the operating expenses of growth like more payroll, more utilities, you’re also purchasing more inventory and more raw materials. When we bring on new products that we make, it’s easily a 3-5k initial investment now. I hired a new accounting firm this year that has experience with this growth and is on board to advise us through it and established a local banking relationship to start to align us to keep up. Doing those things took six years of work, four of them working two full time jobs. Dixie Grace has 14-60 days of cash on hand to pay our bills at any given time. We’re not rich. In fact no one that works at Dixie Grace is, we’re here to do the work and some days, we don’t get the option to not perform in our jobs - we have to perform just to make it to the next week and make sure Dixie Grace survives.

Why the new building? Because we can’t grow anymore and in peak we can barely maintain what we have because of space restrictions. We almost collapsed in peak last year. It wasn’t because we wanted a shiny new building - it’s because we’ve reached the point where we HAVE to have one and nothing existed in our area lease wise that we weren’t going to have to put more money in than a new building costs. This new building is a lease for now. We don’t own it (yet). We’re packing orders in the middle of the shop right now. We’re grateful but that isn’t ideal. We have people get annoyed with us over it. We’re grateful for it and very very excited but growth is scary, exhilarating, but scary. If you’ve watched our journey from the beginning, you’ve seen it all but many haven’t.

Let’s talk about the personal aspect of this expansion and growth of Dixie Grace. What I’m about to say is not a complaint, and I’m not looking for empathy or pity here, at all. I want each of you to know that all of this was intentional, it was a choice, a conscious decision to sacrifice something for something bigger. My Escape is a decade old, and the AC just went out. I can pay to get it fixed but why? It’s not worth the cost against the value of the car. So it’s just hot on the drives for a while. I’m not getting a new one right now because other things come first. Our house is a hundred years old. Our hardwood floors give me splinters. It needs a complete overhaul which will hopefully happen this Fall. It’s needed it for the last five plus years. Date nights consist of dinners where we try to not fall asleep and I have no social life to speak of these days. If I tell you I haven’t considered going back to corporate America where I get paid three times as much as I do now with a month of vacation and when I leave at the end of the day someone else owns the responsibility of it all, I’d be lying. The Supply Chain, Wages, Inflation, all of it - everything is just ten times harder than pre-covid and self doubt sets in and going back just seems easier sometimes. If something turns, I may even have to go back in the interim to keep Dixie Grace rolling in my team’s hands through whatever this current state of America is. We always have a fall back plan around here. That’s ours. The team fusses at me regularly because I pay them more than I pay myself. I rarely take things home from the shop and when I do I pay for them, haven’t had my nails and feet done in two years (except at home), and finally had my hair done after months without it. All part of owning a business.

Back to what I said earlier - when people look at Small Business - there is some illusion to it that it’s glamorous, that we take pretty pics and slap each other around with tortillas all day and we became rich doing it. That couldn’t be further from the truth. Last Fall we had spouses, boyfriends, girlfriends, friends of ours labeling product in the evenings and weekends while we worked twelve to fourteen hour days every single day for months on end. We ordered pizza at 3pm after getting to work at 7 am because we were either hangry or about to fall over. We shipped pallets out of a converted office building that some warehouses can’t even accomplish. This Dixie Grace Team has literally bled, cried, laughed, worked sick, hungry, and tired to make this happen.

So if you think we’re laying in a pretty pile of cash like Demi Moore about to get it on in Vegas, or that some inheritance did this (my stepmother took everything, we got nothing from my Dad), then you’re wrong. I am telling you these things to shatter this crazy illusion some people have in their heads. Nothing about where we are at now or this new building was handed to any of us. Nothing. It’s through grit, work, debt, and the grace of God.

To our customers and supporters - our WORK is what you’re supporting and we use every bit of it to continue to grow Dixie Grace for each of YOU. Not a vacation home in the Hamptons.

To the dreamers - your dreams are only worth what you’re willing to give up to achieve them. If we can do it, you can too. There’s no magic bullet, just the work. That’s it. Show up and do the work.

The comparison crowd - comparison is the thief of joy. Find your lane - the one you want to travel down because someone else’s isn’t what you perceive it to be. Funnel your energy to creating your dreams and stop spending it judging someone else’s. I say this because I HAVE BEEN THERE.

We ain’t quit yet, no matter how hard or dire it has seemed, and we aren’t going to. I’ll say we need y’all more now than we ever have, and so do other Small Businesses. It’s a jungle out here and most days your the mouse in a lion’s jaws. I am writing this, and will post it publicly, because it needs to be said. Someone out there needs to hear these things in a world of social media vacationing trips to Bali, laying on rented Italian sports cars for the fame and the followers, and photoshopped images of unattainable beauty standards.

Shatter all the illusions y’all. They’re bs. ✌🏼

My cup runneth over.