Corporate Culture

When Marty and I first met each other, our dream was to figure out a way to work together. We knew that we really enjoyed each other’s company and that we possessed complimentary skill sets, but at the time, we weren’t sure what we could possibly do in the same workplace (graphic designer and copywriter? Newsletter-writer girl and newsletter-layout guy?). We started making up elaborate fantasies about running retreat centres, workshops, and the like. Marty was just beginning his art career back then, and I was still testing out the waters as a counsellor/volunteer coordinator/occasional newsletter-writing girl in a local non-profit organization. (In other words: we certainly weren’t rich, but we were very happy and imaginative!)

Years passed. Marty and I still dreamed about working together, but (in our hardened old age, cough cough) we were more resigned to leading separate business lives if needed. Marty’s art career was more established by then, and I was now testing out the waters as a finance/data entry/’hold on, what exactly is my job?’ girl at a(nother) local non-profit organization.

Then last summer happened. After our first six months at the harbour (with Marty working full-time and me working on evenings, weekends, and during all of my holidays), it seemed like we magically created a perfect space for me in Marty’s growing art practice– should I choose to fill it. It was clear that the business was expanding and that I enjoyed (nay, loved) being a part of it. The question then became whether I would (or could) leave a regular paycheque behind to pursue our old dreams in real life.

Leaving behind the security of a biweekly paycheque, medical and dental benefits, and all of the post-it notes I could ever possibly want or need was not easy. I knew in my heart that I wanted to give this art thing a go, but I really struggled with leaving my job, knowing that a lot of people thought I was crazy to do so. Yes, a lot of people were supportive, too, but some of the support was more cautious and tentative, like ‘Awwww! You do what feels best for you… even if it’s crafts, I guess’ –not rock-solid, enthusiastic ‘I believe that you will be successful with this, even by objective, third-party standards!’ support. (Don’t get me wrong– the support I received from my blog peeps here was very real and very appreciated. The reactions of other people in my circle were a bit more tepid, though.)

Anyway. As you know, I did leave my job and I did give up my corporate badge– in favour of living our dream! Marty and I worked our asses off this summer. Sure, it looked like we were just hanging out by the water and working on our tans, but it was actually really hard work! We built up inventory, packaged thousands of prints/posters/greeting cards, worked on a brand for Marty’s artwork, and reinforced this brand by giving top notch customer service for 10-14 hours every. single. day. We sold stuff. We made ourselves available to people’s questions and comments, stayed ‘on’ for months on end, made do on little sleep and lots of teriyaki sauce, and most importantly: we had fun!

During the dog days of summer... and still smiling!

By my count, we’ve had a very successful summer, though I’m not sure if we’d measure up to objective, third-party assessments of ‘success’ just yet. Nevertheless: I’m elated to be where I am right now. I know without a doubt that leaving my office job was the right move, and I can’t tell you how happy I am to know that Marty and I will get a break soon, right when my old workplace is transitioning into the 16-week hectic period otherwise known as Accounting Associate H-E-L-L. 🙂 The distance is great.

I joke that I’m going to hibernate and/or do nothing but kick back and enjoy some pina coladas from October to March. In all honesty, though, I’ll be busy working behind the scenes with Marty’s art business, not to mention (finally!) unpacking some boxes from our move back in April… I think the reality of not having ye olde biweekly paycheque won’t really kick in for me until about January or so, but even still: knowing that I took a chance and put my whole self into something I really believe in is totally worth it. I’m going to make it after all!

2 responses

  1. Dana, your’s and Marty’s story is a great testimony to the level of passion and commitment it takes to pursue the dream of truly making it as a successful artist.
    Trials and tribulations are to be expected, and perseverance is what matters most.
    As Thomas Edison said ‘Genius is one percent inspiration, ninety-nine percent perspiration. ‘

    The nuts and bolts, printing, wrapping, setting up and taking down counts every bit as much as the creative moment of each brush stroke.

  2. Woohoo!! This winter will be interesting hey? Are you going to focus on the website? What will “your job” be when you aren’t at the harbour?
    You should start an etsy shop and sell your knitting, seriously.
    On that topic – just think! You will be able to knit and blog away this winter. So great!

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