June – six months into the year – felt aptly like the half way point for the Founder’s Circle work. This month we will be finishing the first round of muslin blouses bringing the total to 10. I have begun to add some additional Founder’s – we’d like to get to 20 by year’s end. We have completed 5 virtual fittings and are shipping our first final blouse.
And – as we hit the halfway point during the month of June we found ourselves totally wiped and needing to figure out how to forge ahead, and to work through the next part of the year in a less fatiguing way. I got a lot of encouraging notes from you after my last Weekly Letter. Yes – you may have read between the lines that our team got pretty fatigued, ready for some much needed breaks and time off this summer. It is interesting to note that sometimes we don’t recognize how much we need a break until we take it. I took a break for a few weeks in June and it is a wild thing to get to reset and realize how hard you have been pushing (even if it feels like pushing a bolder that moves inches at a time!).
Right before my break my financial advisor, Lauren Lizardo, who you may have noticed in my blogs seems to drop one profound, perspective-changing bit of advice during each of our monthly meetings, shared this whopper with me: breaks are the most important thing we can do for our work and for our team. (It took weeks for that one to get past my productivity monsters who were saying “Oh sure – breaks! But when does the real work get done?!!”).
Her comment wasn’t just about breaks – she heard me relay the marathon 5- hour Monday nights that occur after our full-time workdays. And what we were seeing is that progress is super difficult during these meetings. Turns out when you are tired, you move slowly and make mistakes, that you then have to fix when you are tired – me and the sewers – all of us. So two suggestions came out of Lauren’s advice: 1) take breaks and support your team to get the breaks they need; 2) don’t insist on a rigid schedule while the team needs to work in the evenings or on weekends because of our day jobs. The novice apprentice started to really kill it when she could find a couple hours a few times a week to come in when she could work productively – forgoing the beastly 5 hours on Monday night.
This revelation about rest has me wondering about my reticence to take breaks – to acknowledge that working tired on a regular basis has real ramifications. It is OK to push some days and get to see how strong we are – but not as a regular part of our work. Good work is best done rested. And even as I write this I am thinking – someone stronger, tougher could do good work super tired – with a newborn for instance or a new puppy or a disabled child. Where does this come from? – we as a culture tend to glorify stories of people who work insane hours. We right articles about them, we make documentaries about them – see the documentary Jiro Dreams of Sushi – and we use these stories to set unrealistic expectations for ourselves and our dreams.
Well this entrepreneur for one is recovering from this cultural idea, watching it do a number on me and my team. I am going to go ahead and reject it. In hindsight, it seems to me that it is a way for our economic culture to use and abuse people until they descend into addition or get cancer from being overworked and then we forget about them and someone else makes a fortune from the status quo.
But I know that I do my best work when I get rest, when I am able to exercise and take breaks, eat healthy food. So where is the disconnect? Why do we buy into the nonsense of the human machine – the optimal person that can work without breaks and win that way? Well it is hard to unlearn these cultural work habits, but with a little courage and some honesty perhaps we can do it.
So that is how we will move forward in the coming months – with the flexibility, humility and honesty to show up and do the best work we are able to, until we can take it full time.
On the womenswear workshop space front – the roof fix worked! No leaks with the last big rainstorms, so the space is ready for repairs. Two weeks off, meant two weeks not bugging my super busy landlord to move forward with repairs – so refreshed from my time off I am ready to start pushing it forward again. We also began work designing our sign which is going to be a beautiful metal bracket hanging sign. So exciting. I will share photos when it is made.
Thank you for all you support. I hope you are finding time to rest this summer. You can feel that the whole nation needs to rest. Seriously. Rest and refresh!
Thank you for all your support.
Go, fight, win.