Tuesday, March 27, 2012

I've gotta have these chairs!

Planning for the eventual opening of my fashion superstore wonderland is continuing daily. I am totally nose to the grindstone on polishing my business plan, which now has actual financial projections in it. I've had several all too familiar days of staring at spreadsheets of numbers again in the past weeks, but its a labor of love this time around, instead of just labor.

As the formal business plan comes together, I'm getting ready to put all of my hopes and dreams on the line and launch an online campaign to raise a chunk of start up capital for the store. If the campaign is unsuccessful, it would be a pretty major set back, because its going to be very difficult to get interest from banks and/or investors without at least SOME of my own skin in the game – and I currently have no skin. I'm skinless. On the flip side, though, if this little asking strangers for money adventure is successful, it could be absolutely life changing. It would seriously increase my chances of getting the loan and making the store a reality, and it would give me a little breathing room in the meantime to be able to clear up old debts and work on my credit rating so when I do apply to a bank they don't just laugh in my face.

It's not going to be easy though, in order to raise any substantial amount of money, its going to take a groundswell of support that stretches well beyond the realm of just my friends and family. I need this campaign to go viral! I do have a super cute video of myself sitting in front of my vanity mirror explaining the goal and mission of the store, and in the process, displaying several of my favorite creations. I put a lot of work into the video and am excited to at the very least, share that accomplishment with everyone.

Another important planning task I've been working on (although possibly not as important at this stage as the financial projections or the fund raising campaign) is sourcing out furnishings and d├ęcor for the store. It helps keep me motivated to dream about what the space will look like, and spend a few minutes a day browsing for pricing on things like crystal chandeliers, mannequins, dress racks, etc. It also helps me build a solid estimate of the amount I will need to borrow for start-up.

I have always tended to lean a little towards the champagne taste side of life, and unfortunately have always had to make do with less. Don't get me wrong, I don't regret my life of always barely scraping by, life's experiences have taught me to be strong, self-reliant, patient and to always have faith. I normally also tend to do very well for myself on my shoestring budget. Somehow I always manage to get by and get what I want out of life, for the most part. Well, in choosing furnishings for my dream store I'm coming to realize this is probably going to be one of those “OK, I'll take the used one” kind of life situations. Furniture is expensive. Crystal chandeliers, yah, those are expensive too. Building a stage and a runway in an empty warehouse, mm hmm, that's gonna cost ya. There's one item that the store needs though, where I've reached a sticking point and I refuse to budge. The runway chairs.

I spent several hours researching the types of chairs that would be most economical and appropriate considering both storage space and durability . . . I poured through hundreds of photos of New York and Paris fashion shows, studying the chairs people were sitting in. I want an authentic “fashion show” chair lining my runway, not a hotel chair, a school play chair, an office cafeteria chair, etc. In my store vision photo that I built with an online rendering program, I put in Chiavari chairs. I have always loved them. I wish I could have had them at my wedding but the place already came with chairs so it didn't make a whole lot of sense to bring them in. (Looking back I wish I'd just gone for it, since when to things that Brides do make sense anyway?)

So after comparing the price of your average run of the mill folding chair to a stackable Chiavari chair, I was a little shocked to learn that its going to cost almost the same either way I go. Why the heck do folding chairs cost $20 a piece anyway? So, I decided if its going to cost $6,000 for chairs no matter what, I'm getting the dang crystal clear resin Chiavari chairs. They are fabulous.

EVEN THOUGH the cost is going to be the same either way, there's still this tiny little voice of self doubt that creeps into my head when I let my guard down. A tiny little voice that asks “Come on Angelique, what have you done in your life to deserve THOSE chairs?” I'm pretty sure the voice isn't really just referring to the chairs, but in general the chairs seem to represent the vision of the store actually becoming a reality, the idea that my life could really be one lived on no one's schedule but the one I set for myself and that I could one day be truly financially independent – wealthy even, as a business owner. The voice makes me feel guilty. I don't understand it, but I can certainly feel the very real guilt; guilt for planning a campaign to ask strangers for funding which feels a little like charity, guilt for a life I don't even have yet, guilt for wanting it so bad, and for sticking to my guns that I'm going to see this out even if it means failure. I'm the bread winner in our household, so I feel guilty for not just giving up on this pipe dream and hitting the job postings to find another thankless horrible black hole of a job where I can live out the next twenty years of my life, just breathing in and out.

For now at least, I'm able to fight the guilt back, and soldier on. I mean doesn't everyone deserve to go after their dreams? I think so. And I also think that nothing in this green Earth is going to stop me from getting the crystal Chiavari chairs. Now they are kind of like, more than chairs. They are becoming these shining little beacons of hope for the future. Anyway, be watching for my facebook and twitter announcements of the start of the funding campaign. I'll need everyone's help sharing it and forwarding it and re-tweeting it to get it in front of the eyes of people with big bucks to invest in a beautiful, passionately led fledgling Seattle business. And also, let me know if anyone sees 300 crystal clear Chiavari chairs at a garage sale.

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