There's a common question I get asked while working our booth at music festivals. People eventually discover I'm the owner and ask..."Wait, so you go to music fests and travel full-time?" Sheepishly, I admit "Yea, it's weird. I feel like we've been getting away with something for the last 6 years and somehow am still able to pull this off."
So, how have we been able to pull this off so far? All small businesses have a different story and I can tell you that our's is definitely out there. So to my entrepreneurs, dreamers, visionaries, and hustlers...this one is for you.
The real truth, as most entrepreneur's know, is that nothing is really ever as stable as one might assume. Everything relies on you believing in it. You could get up any day and walk away if you believed it wasn't working anymore. We have to understand our career choice is not the most certain one we could have picked, but sometimes the opportunities just come to you. You just have to believe in taking a chance when they come. That's been a big part of our story.
It was 2012, when Tiff and I, along with our pup @imwithhenri, sold everything in Orlando and moved to Portland, Oregon. It was such an exciting time in our lives. We just finished following the Vans Warped Tour hustling necklaces outside in the
lines every morning and had enough money to begin a new life in the Northwest.
Eventually, that money began to run out after 3 months of bills and I realized I needed to get a "real job". I didn't know what I could do well other then sell stuff so I ended up selling Subarus in Oregon. It seemed like an easy gig.
After 4 months of complete despair and heartache in the industry, I quit the same day I was baptized and felt this call on my life to share this message that was given to me years ago. That no matter what changed in our lives, we are pursued by an undeniable, eternal love Yesterday, Today, and Forever.
Then, Now, Always was just my previous band's album title and a necklace that was kind of selling on Etsy. I knew I had something I believed in and could even sell. So we ended up finding a family friend named Bob and began production of our first necklaces as a business! He had the most amazing hobby garage/man cave ever!
I was also finding out about other music festivals that we could start traveling to and setting up shop at and it was then I knew we could make this into a full-time thing.
We ended up traveling 9 months out of the year and even to Europe our first year with Warped Tour and began to question why were we paying rent when we could just buy an RV. So once again, we sold everything and moved into a new home but this time on wheels.
Overtime, I realized in running a business there are only 3 hard facts. Gross, Cost, and Net. My best advice I gave myself...never look at Gross. Put most of your attention on Cost. As we started adding more inventory, festivals, and traveling, everything added up quickly but the RV allowed us to not have the normal overhead of a business. Our rent was $375 in the RV, we mainly hired family members when we needed help, and our warehouse was my wife's childhood bedroom. We kept everything else on the RV and shipped whatever we needed to the festivals while going and seeing the country in between!
"You don’t live for vacations because you don’t need a break from what you’re doing—working, playing, and relaxing are one and the same. You don’t even pay attention to how many hours you’re working because to you, it’s not really work. You’re making money, but you’d do whatever it is you’re doing for free.”
After 2 years on the road, we were wanting to start a family and eventually purchase a home. Ironically, my long time friend called me and asked if I would be interested in coming back to Orlando to work on staff as a pastor at a small church where I could create new relationships, connect people, and love them. These are 3 things I live for by the way. It felt like a surprise gift as it allowed me to keep running the business while pulling in extra income to start saving for a home and family while living in my best friend's backyard for a year.
The job lasted a year and a half and once again the calling I first heard long ago was back on my life and back on the road. We ended up selling the RV though and moved into a small rental in hopes to grow a family.
Still wondering if the business was able to sustain itself, we kept doing music festivals and had 2 amazing summers growing our brand with the Vans Warped Tour. Last summer was our biggest year to date and wouldn't you know it, we were able to buy our first home and begin renovations all right before our beautiful first born Millie Quinn blessed the world on Nov 11, 2018.
Now, there are so many more things to talk about on the logistics of building up cash flow, going debt free, living dirt cheap, and making plans that I will share in a later blog, but there are a couple of huge points I will leave you with that have guided me over the last 6 years in "How to pull any of this off!"
1. Remember, this life is so short. It is also our greatest gift. Seek and Find what you were called to do on this earth. Narrow it down to 3 words your closest friends would call you. Mine are Connector, Creator, Communicator. If I'm not doing any of these daily, I am not honoring the purpose I have been given.
2. Everyday is completely uncertain. There are no guarantees no matter how much time, effort, and money you put into something. You could quit any day, you could barely make enough money for years and then one year make all the difference only to find you have to be even wiser to make sure your business keeps sustaining the next year. Everything changes. What is certain after a while though is if you truly are living your purpose, you wouldn't trade the hills or valleys for anything else.
3. The most important thing you have is your Time. Spend it with the people you love, invest it in what brings you the deepest joy, don't just settle at happiness. Fill your time in the places that make you come to life! At the end of the year, I probably could have made a little more selling Subarus. I would have been able to open my bank account and predict the stability and security but I'm finding my wealth in other portfolios filled with memories that make it all worth the time I've been given. Waking up next to my wife in the morning desert sun, reuniting with old friends that I would normally not see, hearing my baby daughter find her voice in Sedona. Time. More precious than gold. Moments we leave behind that shape us into who we are to become.